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Ian Martin: Commodity, Firmness, Alt-Right

Ian Martin
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Viktor Schuster’s pamphlet A Solution to the Social Housing Tenant Problem has caused quite a stir

MONDAY An invitation arrives from Castle Zaha. I am summoned for an audience with legendary Überparametrichführer Viktor Schuster. 

It’s not a very warm invitation. ‘Hello. I seek like-minded autocrats and visionaries. Are YOU passionate about fine tailoring and high culture? If you too are willing to dream a new millennium based on agent-based parametric semiology, welcome to my world. No breadheads or timewasters.’ 

I confess I find some of Schuster’s more radical ideas thrilling in their ruthlessness. He advocates the privatisation of all air and space and light. His pamphlet A Solution to the Social Housing Tenant Problem caused quite a stir. Yet even Schuster’s harshest critics acknowledge he makes the projects run on time. 

Let’s see if there’s any ‘alt-arch’ synergy to be explored. 

TUESDAY Of course I knew Zaha back in the mad, early days when young Viktor was a rising star in the Thatcherjugend, rattling around Bavaria in his leder… hang on, what’s this? 

Zaha’s Clerkenwell atelier now has a massive fortified gate! In a daze I present my papers to the private security guard, pay an entrance fee of £18.50 – ‘as Mr Schuster says, it’s the same for everyone’ – and report to reception. Neatly-dressed interns are queuing up to buy their daily ration of workspace, like patient fans at a Kraftwerk gig. 

In the toll-lift to Schuster’s lair his PA goes through a checklist. Would I like to customise my visit? Thirty quid for a handshake, fifty for a selfie. Hm, he IS rather dishy. Why’s the PA putting on a gas mask? I hear Schuster’s voice on the intercom as I lose consciousness: ‘Would you CARE? For some AIR? We take contactless, ha ha ha…’ 

ACTUAL MONDAY Oh God, just a horrible DREAM. Brr. 

ACTUAL TUESDAY Great meeting with Viktor Schuster, very relaxed and wide-ranging. We agree that it is surely better to speak candidly about the general direction of things. After all, if we cannot think the unspeakable, how may we forge the unbelievable? 

I suggest that the logical path through privatised space leads surely to a deregulated citizenry. That’s only fair. Why should the poor, who do not deserve to live in expensive postcodes, be forbidden from cashing themselves in? Let us not call it ‘freelance slavery’ (dread phrase) but perhaps ‘humane monetisation’. Viktor is non-committal ‘but naturally I welcome a debate’. We raise a glass to Commodity. 

WEDNESDAY The City of London has approved my solemn, elegant skyscraper, nicknamed The Thundershaft

Approved grudgingly, it has to be said – ‘Sure, what’s the difference? Who even cares any more? It can join that cluster of turds in the middle, serve everybody right…’ – but permission is permission. 

Redesign the White House, giving it a more palatial feel

THURSDAY Tech interface day. My old friend Beansy the nanofuturologist wants me to road test his latest beta equipment. I’m to report back if anything overheats or ‘misbehaves’. 

In the morning I plug Space Gobbler, a structure sensor rig, into my iPad. Sweep the target area. Export the 3D map to a CAD program that, presumptiously in my view, assumes I must want to create a contemporary living space. Spend the rest of the morning arguing with a VERY bossy sensor rig about curtains. 

In the afternoon I play with Holocrown, a mixed reality app that conjures architectural models in mid-air. This allows the designer to study the effects of the real world on buildings, eg you can blow on them to simulate economic turbulence.

I cause a hologram of my latest project, a militarised police headquarters in the style of a Confederate fort, to shimmer in the middle of the room. I try punching it but somehow get my hand trapped. Luckily my phone’s within reach, I call Beansy and he cabs over to ‘bail me out’. Apparently I had Sinister Mode switched on. 

FRIDAY Redesign the White House, giving it a more palatial feel. The client wants his forthcoming inauguration upgraded to a coronation. As he says, ‘the people have had it with inaugure, they deserve a huge coronary event…’

SATURDAY Five-a-zeitgeist theoretical alt-football. Construed Parametricism 1, Misconstrued Autopoiesis 2. Ugly scenes after the match, winning fans invading the spatial theatre and chanting ‘Who ate all the poiesis? We did! We did!’ 

SUNDAY Value my privacy, at a premium rate, in the recliner.

Illustration by Hanna Melin

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