Shards of Truth

18 Sep

Here’s something spooky:

Anything look familiar? Much as I’d love to turn this into a conspiracy theory, I’m feeling a bit too sane this morning, but I am rather taken with the thought that Renzo Piano might be a fan of this BBC adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984. When it was broadcast in 1953, this sequence would have struck Londoners for other reasons entirely: at that point, St Paul’s Cathedral was the tallest building in the city, and the Tower of the Houses of Parliament wasn’t far behind (or below, whatever). The scale given by the juxtaposition of the latter with the crudely superimposed Ministry of Truth might well have seemed improbable to contemporary viewers, even as the first high-rise council estates started to appear across the crater-ridden capital.

I still can’t get over the novelty of the new-look London skyline; The Shard still seems to me as though it had been pasted onto a panoramic photo, as impressive and alien as these eerily prescient images must have appeared to the few British families who possessed television sets in the early 1950s. Uncanny architecture aside, at least nobody’s watching Big Brother any more…


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