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Ian Martin: An enfilade of voids

Ian Martin
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Ian Martin designs a blip-up for a Feaux-Arts pop-up

MONDAY Redesign Architectural Europe, giving it a less Architecturally European look by replacing parts of it with new European architectural opportunities.

TUESDAY Lunch with my old friend Tub Haagendas, the internationally acclaimed ‘contrarchitect’. After years of trying to have lunch ‘with’ him I settle these days for experiencing what he calls ‘parallelised dining phenomena’.

While I get stuck into something traditional he bends over his lemon sole like a watchmaker, discarding the fish bit by bit with tweezers and a scalpel to reveal a perfect skeleton. He takes a photograph of it, has a celebratory mouthful of room-temperature water and finally orders pudding. At last, we can talk.

There’s obligatory gossip about mutual friends in the world of plasmic arts. The Nordic superstar who just secretly married an artificial intelligence. The American installation artist who’s had a ‘spacelift’ to make a permanent gallery of her work look fresher. The two eminent Royal Academicians arrested in Piccadilly in the early hours ‘duelling’ with the contents of their catheter bags.

Tub’s enjoying his new niche celebrity as a post-urbanist. To the consternation of his old pre-Modernist mates – a monkish crowd of irritating pillocks who’ve insisted for decades that we must be vegans living in cities to ensure the survival of humanity – Tub has gone rural.

Not just rural. Digital rural. He proposes a ‘nodal pinmap’ of distribution and fulfilment centres throughout Europe, connected by hyperloop. ‘Will they be both generic yet culturally GPS-specific? Why not. Will there be so-called rooms for rumpus, where humans and robots may play together? It is at least possible. Will there be a new typology for these vast buildings, roofed perhaps in some futuristic smart thatch? Who knows?’

I wonder aloud if it’s possible to connect to the future by asking questions about it but Tub’s already deconstructing his trifle.

WEDNESDAY The absolute cheek of some people. I’d been commissioned by a certain multinational technology company (name withheld by superinjunction) to design a ‘Silicon Versailles’ for their ‘global web hang’.

It was to have been the world’s greatest virtual landscaping masterpiece. A riot of complicated pretend fountains. Inferred hectares of glittering lawns enclosed with geometric hedging. Opulent glasshouses full of pixellated quinces and dodos.

I knew something was up when, 28 days after the date of my invoice, the client had failed to take advantage of the standard 5 per cent discount for prompt payment. I was certainly not prepared for the email which arrived this morning.

‘Dude … got our guys to do a straight copy of our new hq in nevada instead. So cool to watch AVATAR ME sitting down to type this email, I’m like WHAAAA? No bad feels bro there are cacti + palm trees + like virtual plants in pots if you need pro-rata gig? Best Steve’.

It’s not the humiliation of a virtual landscape artist being offered the job of pro-rata digital gardener I mind so much as the humiliation of the pro-rata job acceptance.

THURSDAY To Tamworth’s world-class Snakey-Likey Gallery. I am one of four spatial auteurs invited to create a Room For Now in the grounds of this magnificent historic Feaux-Arts structure. Now three years and five months old, it’s one of England’s most ancient and treasured pop-ups.

Its transition from ephemerality to semi-permanence is to be marked this summer with the popping-up of four contemporary blip-ups. Each Room For Now will be ‘a warm take on the idea of Room, how we think about that idea and how it might develop both in our collective consciousness and on a patch of grass close to the gallery’.

My blip-up is a flexible prototype family shelter shaped like an eye, about the size of a little boat, constructed from a cheap and sustainable matrix of Hard Air® and Kryptogel®. A shuttable lid provides privacy and security. The whole thing has adjustable translucence, I’m not an idiot. It’s superlight and so cheap to make they could be scattered around refugee entry points and all over central London for rough sleepers, each one linked electronically to a welfare hotline, AS IF.

It’s an enfilade of voids with subtly different fragrances and some beanbags. Looks amazing in photographs.

FRIDAY ‘Top-out’ my new conical skyscraper, 99 Cheapside, with a massive air rights Flake.

SATURDAY Five-a-zeitgeist theoretical threatball. Recession 2, Secession 3.

SUNDAY Web hang, in the hammock.

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