Head in the Cloud – Lets Push Things Forward

Teenage Engineering‘s seductive electronics strike again, this time in the shape of the OD-11 speaker at CES last week. The world’s first cloud speaker shows smart thinking from the Swedes who capture the music listening needs of the near future (with Rdio offering content via the cloud and even Amazon announcing digital duplicates via the cloud with every physical purchase). TE also doff their snap-backs to the past – inspired by Stig Carlsson – the maverick who bought loudspeakers out of the enthusiasts lair and into the living room. TE, like Carlsson, are responding to the new generation of listeners.

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As a simple speaker I hope this will be compatible with as much content as possible – no longer will we be switching off the radio to turn on Spotify instead we will just be able to push content to it. Is this the end of the myriad of specific and dedicated devices, like the TV and radio? Will the future be flexible screens and speakers? I kind of hope so.

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Rain Again. Again.

Possibly inspired by last year’s wet weather, or an equally damp festive trip home to the North – I put my Print Club screen printing gift to use yesterday.

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Learning to expose the image onto the screen in the morning, you get inky in the afternoon and it’s not long before you get to see the fruits of your labour.

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It’s a pretty thorough course for beginners and it’s hands on all the way through which is great. Think I may have been infected by the inky bug though. Want to do it all over again already.

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Rain Again

After the second wettest year on record, a visit to Random International’s Rain Room installation at the Barbican seemed an apt way to begin 2013.

I’ve never felt more British – happy to queue for a couple of hours in order to stand inside a room of rain.

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Except it’s not real rain of course because clever sensors ‘turn off’ the rain to ensure you don’t actually get wet. Wish real clouds had these.

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Happy New Year?

Happy New Year?

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Daphne Oram – Wave Forms

A delightful little exhibition at the Science Museum charting the origins of electronic music. Without this woman, there’d be no Kraftwerk or Aphex Twin. Who knew?

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Daphne Oram – Nice [Aphex] Twin set

Painting wave forms onto film she manipulated electronic sounds. Music notation in waves and shapes is a really lovely democratisation of music writing and is something I love about seeing songs on Soundcloud.

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Sound waves

Peter Zinovieff’s score for December Hollow is entirely graphical – the different areas indicate the different musical moods and tones. How delightful.

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And then I saw this:

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Synthi-K keyboard by EMS – touch tone

One of the most beautiful electronic musical instruments ever. The silver circuit tracks complete on touch to produce the notes. Whilst we live in a world of albeit beautiful monoliths, a device that shows it’s guts is somewhat exciting and sort of reassuring.

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Designed to Win: Graeme Obree

After unexpectedly getting caught up in all the excitement of London TwentyTwelfty, a visit to the Design Museum’s Designed to Win exhibition filled the gap between the closing ceremony of the Olympics and the torch lighting of the Paralympics.

Examining the role and impact of design on sport, my favourite story of the exhibition was that of cyclist Graeme Obree.

In 1993, this relatively unknown amateur was inspired to challenge the One Hour Record, a feat that sees what distance the cyclist can travel in one hour of cycling in a velodrome. Not content with the physical challenge, Obree also handmade his own bike using various reclaimed components, including parts from a washing machine. Testing it on a local bypass with the help of a friend, a borrowed car and by adopting a unique ‘Superman’ riding position, on his second attempt (in less than 24 hours) he broke the record. There’s a lovely little 1993 mini documentary video that accompanies the exhibit.

A beautiful example, not of man versus machine, but man WITH machine. Kraftwerk would be proud.

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Thomas Heatherwick – Architexture

Thomas Heatherwick Studio have a show at the V&A. Heatherwick is a true 3D designer exploring surface, texture and transformation with an incredible body of work on display.

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B of the Bang – a seemingly random explosion of spikes that are actually meticulously geometrically placed. It’s a shame that the construction safety has decommissioned the sculpture as it is ambitious and inspiring.

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There’s a poetry to the Studio’s work too. When a ship spilled its load of timber on the south coast – Heatherwick used it as inspiration for a local swimming pool.

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The ground appears to crack open to reveal a luscious green park below in this design. Stunning.

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The glowing Seed Cathedral for the Shanghai Expo would’ve been incredible to visit. Thousands of seeds set in resin rods channeling light from the outside in – the light play continually changing throughout the day.

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Can’t wait for this volcanic looking power station in Teeside to be built.

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And the new Routemaster of course…the exhibition even inspired me to wait for 8 x 38 buses to pass so I could give it a ride for the first time. Lovely – with two staircases, a panoramic view and even better, the return of the bus conductor.

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