My new critical stream of thought
Ian Martin redesigns the idea of British artists
MONDAY A mysterious cabal of leisure investors has asked me to ‘remagine’ the world of snooker.
Their briefing paper Thinking Outside The Crucible puts the case for a future snooker venue in general - and I have to say quite negative - terms. ‘Something that doesn’t look like an illegal boxing arena inside. And that doesn’t remind you of municipal swimming baths when the camera follows the players back to their dressing rooms.’
Understood. Seriously, I’m all over this gig like a luminescent shroud. Yeah, I’m thinking powerful fusion: retro Saturday Night Fever dance floor meets Tate Modern Turbine Hall. The spectators like puffins, lofted into balconies and boxes, kept well away from the interviews with past champions and any temptation to gurn and wave in the background.
That’s another thing. As well as conceptualising a contemporary snooker colosseum, I’m also applying my content management skills to design a better audience to fill it.
OUT: hefty middle-aged men dressed in synthetics. IN: oligarchs, art geezers, Middleton types, tax swervers, all in natural fibres.
TUESDAY In the morning, watercolouring and soft-pencil scribbling. In the afternoon, 3D abstract bronze printing and spatial software modelling. In the evening, conversion of synaptic energy into pure creative impulse, early night.
WEDNESDAY Redesign the idea of British artists, making them more conscious of their economic leverage and putting imaginary little red stickers on their chins.
THURSDAY Knock out proposals for the world’s first self-aware Permanent Tallest Building. Organic expansion packs are stored in the top five storeys, their release triggered by a GPS alert of any encroaching second tallest building.
FRIDAY My friend Darcy the architecture critic is away for a few days, staying at a ‘gaytique hotel’ in Bratislava. He insists it’s fieldwork for an edgy new niche heritage show he’s presenting on the Euro lifestyle cable channel Hefty Poppa.
‘Stop looking so sceptical,’ Darcy says, avoiding eye contact. ‘Nicheritage is totally a word. So is gaytique. We’re looking at the whole boutique ideology stroke phenomenon in a sort of pop-up yet comprehensive way and we’re travelling across Europe in a pink Cortina Mark 2 and for your information the show’s called Boutiques Roadshow, so can you look after Bess or not?’
Bess of Hardwick, the architectural border collie and Darcy’s muse, looks at me pleadingly through her tortoiseshell spectacles and gives a little bark. Of course I’ll look after her. She’s much better company these days than Darcy, with his passive-aggressive headwear and self-pitying blouson.
Darcy’s mind is elsewhere, possibly Bratislava. ‘They said “Guide Dogs Only”. I explained Bess was very much a guide, helping me through the everyday socio-cultural labyrinth. They accused me of winding them up. Whatever, it’s moot, the insurance is ridiculous…’
Bess and I leave him to it and go off to laugh at some gritty urban brasserie in Kensington she’s reviewing for The Guardian. I’m her official scribe this week, so I just scribble down what she’s thinking to type up later.
We stand across the road to get a better look at the facade, all asymmetrical blobs of smoked glass and skeins of terracotta nova, apparently held together by oversized knuckles of butch steel clamping. Words have been puked randomly across everything. ‘Eat’ it gasps, weakly. ‘Think. Live. Share.’ It’s as if the place is daring you to go somewhere else.
Bess looks at the brasserie quizzically through her weeny Philip Johnsons, straining her leash in its direction. ‘Arch!’ she cries. ‘Rough! Rough! Grrr! Arch! Crit! Crit! Rough!’ I agree. This brasserie does look like it was designed by some wanker for a bet.
We cross the road to get a better look. Through the wibbly-wobbly glass we see people looking icily at their surroundings, predisposed to complain … Oh no. Bess has taken her criticism to the next level by pissing up the Damien Hirst bike rack.
She pants conspiratorially at me. It’s like we’re sharing a joke. Ha ha ha! Is that what’s happening here? I piss on the Damien Hirst bike rack too, then we leg it.
SATURDAY Take Bess to park with ‘the bag’ and ‘the glove’. Like her, I disdain the mundane layout of much of our recreational spaces. But today I do not follow her critical lead in this matter.
SUNDAY Contentment in the recliner, reviewing the newspapers with Bess in her scaled-down Olympic ‘bird’s nest’. Nice to have a growling companion.