English Director Ben Wheatley has taken on the task of adapting Ballard’s novel for the screen (yet to be released in New Zealand). Like Lillico, Wheatley must have puzzled (differently) over how to represent the interior spaces of Ballard’s dystopian apartment block, which provides far more than a simple backdrop to the story. His solution is to set the film within the social and architectural context of the 1970s, also when the novel was written if not explicitly set. This was a period dominated in the UK at least by the upsurge and subsequent resistance to Brutalist Council Estates. Among the early responses to the film and its representation of architecture, Architectural theorist Owen Hatherley has cautioned against understanding this apartment block through Brutalism. He recently tweeted ‘Not seen the film and it may be great but anyone who thinks High-Rise is set in a council block hasn’t read it’, quickly followed by ‘it is not Balfron Tower, it is the Barbican. Thank you’. Hatherley presented a lecture at City Gallery Wellington on the art and architecture of the Moscow Underground in association with Demented Architecture.
In attempting to make connections between the work in Demented Architecture and Ballard’s High Rise as introduced by Lillico, one might think that the connection to the exhibition’s primary medium of Lego would prove the most resistant. Enter the mysterious Lego Loki, who has undertaken his own project to make a scene-by-scene adaptation of High Rise in Lego (brickhighrise.co.uk). Like Lillico and Wheatley, Loki has had to imagine and draw these architectural spaces in order to remake them in his medium, with special attention paid to Laing’s apartment.
Read more about the Demented Architecture exhibtion here: High Times City Gallery Wellington