Life at the Top
Far below, embedded in the crushed roof of a car in the front rank, was the body of a man in evening dress. Eleanor Powell, her face like pain swayed from the rail and pushed her way past Crosland. Laing held tightly to the metal bar, shocked and excited at the same time. Almost every balcony on the huge face of the high-rise was now occupied, the residents gazing down as if from their boxes in an enormous outdoor opera house.
This extract from J G Ballard's High-Rise illustrates perfectly albeit in dramatic fashion the danger and attraction of high-rise living. In my block the studio is the stage, a space with an endlessly rotating cast in front of an endlessly rotating vertiginous audience. The open windows mirror open windows and the landscape below drifts out of focus.
The camera set, dusk falls and the pupil widens. There are no sounds of people, no footfalls, no shadows to link hands with bodies, mouths to heads. Just the recurring flicker of bulbs going on and off; fluorescents, incandescents, metal halides, pin sharp LED's, long life energy-savers. The glow of UV fish-tanks leaking a purple haze into the sickly glare of sodium. Light particles creep and spread, amorphous forms suspended in darkness. All the time, watching.