“I’m beginning to see my situation is too ideal for accidents” (Seal the real I, Amazing IV)

Malcom Morley, Beach Scene (1968)

Ballard: What do you think it is your father really does?

Prince: He’s interested in applying the physical facts of the environment on people. What he calls the third revolution. The “facts” he says are the things that have come after the consumerism of the postindustrial revolution.

Ballard: In other words?

Prince: He invades people’s lives with the very products they produce.

Ballard: He modifies the behavior of a particular group of people by what they consume?

Prince: Exactly. He uses things like TVs, microchips, computers, chemicals, tape recorders, cameras. He’s very advanced at how to undermine your situation with what you think you already own and what you think you might control.

Ballard: Like say, the film in your camera?

Prince: Yes. Something as ordinary as a roll of Tri-X. He can very easily dismantle the convention of getting back your snapshots by infusing those snapshots with the element of imagination and thus destabilize what was expected to be everyday pedestrian reality. Serious illness and trauma could result upon opening what was hoped to be pictures of your sweetheart or pictures of the family barbecue. Once a friend of his told me how he planned to somehow prescribe a type of contact lens for Castro, a kind that would produce dystopia. Imagine Castro putting on a shirt and thinking the shirt was alive. Sometimes his ideas are outlandishly absurd. Really funny. Some of them sound like a joke. Never knowing when to take him seriously is part of his design.


Prince: Overdetermination. I should feel strange. Pissed off or something. But I don’t. You know, if I think about my situation, it’s just another conventionalized reality. What’s happening to me is probably normal. Or going to be. A look at things to come perhaps. The people who have been flying me around haven’t exactly acted surprised. I guess this is why I didn’t get it–but am beginning to get it now. I’m beginning to get the sense that it’s the sensation of normality that might be the most extreme conclusion to the hypothesis.

Ballard: Normality as the next special effect?

Prince: Something like that.

Richard Prince talks to J.G. Ballard,
transcribed by Richard Prince from J.G. Ballard’s notes taken in an August ’67 conversation between J.G. Ballard and Richard Prince


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