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Farewell to Sally

Ian Martin
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Ian Martin says goodbye to someone he never knew

MONDAY Oh, this is ridiculous. Apparently you can’t use forced perspective any more because it’s ‘cruel and unnatural’. Online petition SIGNED.

TUESDAY Turns out that petition opposing the forced perspective ban was a hoax. The world’s becoming unfathomable. Where’s the pleasure in exploiting the credulity of others?

WEDNESDAY Launch crowdfunding campaign to save forced perspective..

Where’s the pleasure in exploiting the credulity of others?

THURSDAY I’m knocking up an exquisite little pop-up concert hall in Vilnius. It’ll only be there for a few months. After that they’re using the site for high-end residential development or something.

I love how we all still say that. ‘Or something’. As if there might be anything other than stacked sheaves of deadlocked luxipads planned for anywhere.

The design brief is ‘Strictly Pop-Up’ so it’s being constructed from bamboo and a sort of translucent ecoplasma made by boiling up household rubbish (or possibly food waste, I wasn’t paying attention) with polymers. It’s a lot cheaper than a proper building material anyway.

Acoustics are tricky. They obviously won’t be concert hall standard. Audiences who pay a fortune to hear the finest orchestras in the world can’t reasonably expect the sumptuous nine-course sonic feast you get at La Scala, or another of the good ones. The O2, say.

Instead, we’re making do with ‘value soundcarbing’ for the roof and floor. Chemical additives to the mid-air ranges will enhance ambient tonal flavour. In the industry it’s apparently called a ‘soundwich’.

FRIDAY I am delighted to report that people in Tamworth will soon be able to cycle over the world’s first 4D-printed kryptogel bridge on the world’s first 4D-printed kryptogel bicycle.

‘What?’ you say. ‘I have heard of kryptogel and I understand how you might construct both bicycles and bridges from that most versatile material. But 4-D printing? Really? Are you not talking utter balls?’

My answer: I am designing not merely across cultural and technical boundaries but across dimensions, indeed across time itself. If you choose to categorise that as ‘balls’, so be it. Expect to be ‘blocked’ on Twitter.

SATURDAY Five-a-zeitgeist architectural tropeball. Hyperventilating Shitpipe 3, Prolapsed Vertical Ellipsis 3.

SUNDAY An oddly emotional day. Just finished the artwork for a Soho vaping garden. This will be the last outing for ‘Sally’, the image of a young woman I have included in most of my renderings (‘artist’s impressions’ we used to call them) for as long as I’ve practised my architectural mystery.

Sally originally appeared in a photograph that fell into my possession, an old strip of negatives used as a bookmark. Out of curiosity I had them developed: holiday snaps of distant relatives long dead, squinting and waving into the post-war sun.

In one of the pictures Sally was accidentally caught, a stranger in the background. Reading her Penguin paperback in a park, glimpsed in some unknowable moment. In antique sunglasses and a floral print dress, she might have been transported from a Philip Larkin poem.

I first used cut-out Sally in the 70s, an experimental presentation for an arts centre in Romford. Among other photographic cut-outs she shone, poised and beautiful. Her slender arms and timelessly fashionable clothes clearly demonstrated to the world that Romford girls could bloody well read books in arts centres, thanks very much.

I had loads of prints made, rescuing Sally time and time again from that 1950s holiday snap. She was always just the right size, always perfect. In smaller collages she was a fashion statement, a foregrounded opinion former, a stylish verification. In larger pictures she added a discreet dash of optimism and intelligence.

It became much easier in the computer age, and a digitised Sally has graced every single one of my schemes this century. There she is, cool and fit on a balcony at a private sports centre in Surrey. Waiting at a café table in regenerated Preston. Relaxing in the candied interior of a shmoozed Hackney tower block. Latterly of course she’s been consulting an inferred iPad rather than reading an inferred Kingsley Amis novel. Eternally beautiful.

Alas, the world has changed around her. We can no longer plausibly believe she’s in those exquisite sunglasses, that adorable dress, without being conscious that we are looking at her. All insouciance has evaporated. Sally has effectively become self-aware. And now, my eyes misty with tears, I must return her to infinite darkness.

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