I don't actually have a cellphone. Well, I do - someone gave me an old one to sit in the car's glove compartment, since by law they have to be able to call the emergency services even after they're disconnected. It's a minimal, residual function. I've just never had the urge to phone people. No, really, I'm not making that up.
But phoning people is pretty much the smallest thing these units now do. Cellphone - or mobile - is now a misnomer for the article, almost as outdated as its legacy terms ring and dial. They now live on the internet, with a terminal flashing blue in your ear, a connection between the cyber world and your local sensory apparatus.
They also do something much stranger and conceptually unphonelike. They film short movies. I have no idea why. Videophones are an old Skiffy tradition, but cellphones don't do the central function of a Blade Runner-style videophone, which is to show you to the person you're calling and the person you're calling to you. Instead, their cameras face outwards, at the world you're observing. (Or would be observing, if you weren't looking at your phone.) You film that vista in front of you, and then you send it to someone.
Simon Sellars at the estimable Ballardian website, of course. He is currently running a Ballardian Festival of Home Movies competition. He wants your Ballardian cellphone movies. By that, he means ones which in some way address the adjective Ballardian, which the Collins English Dictionary defines as:
BALLARDIAN: (adj) 1. of James Graham Ballard (J.G. Ballard; born 1930), the British novelist, or his works. (2) resembling or suggestive of the conditions described in Ballard’s novels & stories, esp. dystopian modernity, bleak man-made landscapes & the psychological effects of technological, social or environmental developments.
The competition is sponsored by HarperCollins, which means there are prizes. See Ballardian.com for details.
I won't be entering. There's a clue to why I won't be in this blog post. The first person to work it out wins a free appearance in my comments section.