Vivid

Busy week. Have been in Amsterdam (lovely) and South of France (also lovely). On Sunday we went to a hifi show in the wasteland hotels near Heathrow airport. Many average or averagely good things, and we ended up short of time, so didn’t get to see everything. But the standouts, by far were the Avantgarde Duo and Vivid speakers. The Duos demonstrated (at least from vinyl, through decent valve amplification) the most transparent sound I’ve ever heard. The Vivids, on the other hand, seemed ready for absolutely anything — not as ætherial as the Duos, but as happy with every …

Anubis and Other Automata

Since the 80s, Paul Spooner, Matt Smith and a few like-minded craftspeople have been turning out hand-cranked wooden automata which are in varying degrees witty, dark, twee and incredibly intricate. Once upon a time, their work lived at the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre in Covent Garden, now long-gone. Since then I had lost track of the whole scene, but according to the Observer last weekend, this stuff is now considered very collectable. There’s a retrospective starting at Gallery 27 in Cork Street on September 20th. Evidently Spooner’s intricate mechanisms are inspired by the four-volume Ingenious Mechanisms for Designers and Inventors, edited …

Outlook vs Newton

Back in 1995, my Newton could do stuff like schedule meetings when I made a note that I needed to, say, meet Tim on Friday, and even made a good heuristic attempt at guessing which Tim. Here we are in 2004, and if I get an email from Peter asking if I can do lunch on Friday, Outlook can’t parse that and offer to put it in my diary for me. Progress.