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Reshaping our world one app at a time with the Etch-a-Space

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Ian Martin has a breakthrough and puts Etch-a-Space to the test

Monday. Eureka, baby. After struggling with this immovable building Greenpeace have asked me to design on land they bought to block Heathrow’s third runway, a breakthrough. I’ll go for a layered, nationalist approach.

First, we inter the remains of the original Dad’s Army cast in a Cemetery of Defiance. Above that, a boutique Anglo-Saxon Holocaust Museum. Above that, a kitten hospice. Above that, a gold-framed glass slab filled with mysterious mauve gas and labelled ‘DIANA’. Above that, a Sherlock Holmes flat with Stephen Fry in it, ‘tweeting’. And on the roof, a little medieval forest with miniature wolves. Yeah, bulldoze THAT lot, capitalist pigs! and

Tuesday. To the launch of Apple’s latest multi-media sensation, the Etch-a-Space. Everyone says it will revolutionise the way we see 3D modelling by making it look really easy.

‘Now ANYONE can be an architect’ is a pretty thin promise, in my view. Still, some of the amateur demo renderings are impressive. Here’s one: ‘an ecologically compliant and vigorously humane nursery school designed by a nine-year-old Muslim girl.’ Although I fail to see the relevance of religious culture, gender, age, building use, the concept of architectural compassion or magical flowers to be honest.

The most ingenious thing about the Etch-a-Space is its ability to be pre-ordered. There’s already a queue of geeky little avatars a mile long on Amazon. And, of course, current non-availability has significantly increased its desirability.

We all get to have a tweak at the aftershow. I try the Disengaged Level setting to start with. It seems much too easy. I seem to have knocked out an entire neurological research campus in 15 minutes, complete with a stable block and dry ski slope and everything. I turn the setting up to maximum – Enigmatic Level – but it’s impossible. In order to proceed I’m supposed to have at least one of the following: a knighthood, fluent Arabic, supper with David Cameron.

Wednesday. Plan my international architectural exhibition. The theme is People Meet In Architecture. Obviously I’ll be pushing the conceptual boundaries of ‘architecture’ and ‘people’. The event will occur in a special pavilion designed by someone famous and the opening night will be attended by politicians, journalists and celebrities.

Thursday. A call from Darcy Farquear’say, epic space correspondent of the Creative on Sunday and former acquaintance.

He has a spare ‘hottest ticket in town’. Would I be interested? Appalling though the prospect is of spending an evening in the company of this insufferable clown and his portable dog, I am tempted. The hot ticket in question is for the strictly invitation-only Pecha Kucha karaoke night at the Cock and Spandrel, a haughty gastropub in Camden.

I arrive a bit late. The atmosphere is charged with fizzing genius. Darcy, to be fair, has taken the liberty of getting us a jug of Eclectic Mix, the house cocktail. He tells me I have just missed ‘the most AMAZING epic space narrative prose slam’ by Jacob Kinderegg. I can see Kinderegg slumped at a nearby table, spent, euphoric. He pulls off his trademark cowboy boots and sends them spinning into a rowdy crowd by the bar, then downs an entire bottle of prosecco. He definitely looks as though he had a good gig.

Next up is beatboxing animateur MC Baggy. To the astonishment of a sophisticated audience who thought they’d heard and seen it all before, Baggy raps over four separate slideshows mixed in ‘non-real time’ by Continuum, DJ in residence at the Town and Country Planning Association. After a dense, tense three minutes, nobody is in any doubt that the themes of Cumbernauld, fried breakfast, Chinese children, fishing boats in fog, riot policemen, Lady Gaga, Hampton Court Maze, garden sheds, climate change, the Hayward Gallery, people playing bingo in the ’60s, abandoned cars, gnocchi, the M61, thermographs of the House of Commons, Ayn Rand’s funeral and Welwyn Garden City are all intimately connected.

That’s enough cutting-edge critique for me. I rise unsteadily to my feet, shake Darcy’s hand stiffly and leave. I completely ignore his mewling dachshund, who’s wearing a little Philippe Starck romper suit.

Friday. Propose a remodelling of the Midlands, using a special ‘environmental liposuction’ technique.

Saturday. Indoor five-a-zeitgeist theoretical football at the Institute of Plasmic Arts. Autotuned Frozen Musicians 3, iTectoPods In Shuffle Mode 5.

Sunday. Intellectual regeneration in the recliner, including a creative quarter after lunch.


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