The Monopolis Commission
Ian Martin does some big thinking
MONDAY Hey, internet. Stop telling me that hundreds of casual workers have died during the construction of my Enfolding Vulvate Stadium in Qatar.
It’s not that I still don’t care. It’s just that I still know nothing about it.
TUESDAY A day for ‘thinking big’. And my first big thought of the day is that it doesn’t matter if words or ideas look ugly – grotesque, even – as long as they too are BIG.
I’m following the lead of the big Mayor of London, my old friend Loaf, and putting ‘opolis’ on the ends of words to make them and me look more important.
You’d be hard-pushed to come up with an uglier word than Olympicopolis, but Loaf’s managed it with the new interstitial enterprise zone, Hammersmith Flyoveropolis.
The challenge is to take this idea of ‘quaintly British gigantism’ global, so I spend the afternoon working up massive overseas masterplans (Gallipoliopolis, Annapolisopolis) and a generic ‘popupopolis’ that could quietly go off anywhere.
WEDNESDAY Mind closed for essential imagineering works. I’m currently imagineering a ludicrous sealed ‘city’ in Dubai that blends Las Ramblas, Times Square, a cartoon version of Paris in the 1950s and an exact copy of the Dubai Hypermall down the road into an architectural smoothie.
What I can’t imagineer is the sort of two-dimensional pillock who would actually want to be there. I’ll contract this bit out, I think. Maybe consult someone in Dubai who understands this particular subset of jaded shitbags, that I may more readily pander to them in the future and exploit their cynicism.
THURSDAY Surprise gig. I’ve been asked to mentally reorder Spatchcob in Oxfordshire. The charming former Space Age market town suddenly needs a new brand identity.
The old one was firmly nailed to the sky in the form of striking, massive concrete cooling towers that soared gracefully above it for half a century, but they were blown up by the power station’s private operators last week when nobody was looking.
Of course it was for the best. The towers have been pulverised, so they must have been eyesores. That’s just common sense. But now everyone’s looking for something to put Spatchcob on the map.
Until last weekend, people would see the towers from miles away and go ‘Look! Spatchcob! The coolest place in the world because it has THREE really cool cooling towers, let’s swing by for lunch in one of its several heritage pubs, hey, maybe they’ve got a Costa there.’
For the last few days though, confused travellers have been scanning the horizon, convinced they’re lost, and made do with the Burger King at the next M40 services, which has definitely got a Costa.
The client brief at least is clear: ‘Spatchcob languished in the shadow of those looming fat bastard 20th century chimneys for decades. They used to burn coal there before it shut down. COAL! Who needs a shrine to coal? We need to look to the future, not to coal-powered nostalgia.’
Accordingly, the cultural development of Spatchcob will focus on broadening the appeal of its already popular steam railway museum.
I’m suggesting son et lumière evenings where the engines speak to visitors using the voices of actual railwaymen from the glory days of steam, and then all the engines sing a poignant number about the fleeting significance of humanity. Also I’m suggesting they put a Costa in the museum.
FRIDAY Work on my ‘invisiblised traffic’ project to conserve historic streets. Aimed more at casual observers than pedestrians, to be honest.
SATURDAY My very important art installation, Shut Up I’m Thinking, is activated today in Tamworth Central Library.
The 4m-tall pavilion is constructed from Amazon cardboard and discarded food bank items – expired cans of own-brand beans and tuna, dry pasta, puy lentils and so on. Visitors interact with the project by looking at and thinking about the pavilion as an ‘outsider’, then entering and thinking about it anew as a temporary inhabitant.
‘In this way an italicised pavilion analogue is assembled from the community’s collective dialogue,’ as I tell myself in the catalogue.
The cardboard is displaced by folding, flapping memory. The tuna cans etc are conceptually overwritten by discarded items from the community’s thought bank.
Mark my words, people will be shutting up and thinking about this for some time.
SUNDAY Create an autopolis in the recliner.