16 December 2017

The Amazing Longsheng Rice Terraces


Village elders have a saying in Longsheng: where there is soil there is a terrace. Two hours ride from the city of Guilin in Guanxi province the problem of growing rice on steep hills was long ago solved. From the Yuan Dynasty at the end of the thirteenth century the colossal task of terracing the Longsheng hills to provide a rice harvest began.

3 December 2017

If You Have Never Wanted to Visit Budapest, You Will After Watching This


Budapest is the largest city in Hungary and its capital.  It is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe with a history that goes back to well before the Christian era.  This timelapse (with hyperlapse sections in there for good measure) was created by Sergey Tatarinov, a photographer from Moscow, Russia.  You can see why Forbes ranked Budapest as Europe’s 7th most idyllic place to live.

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Weightless


Even a day by the lake on an idyllic summer’s day is little respite for young Felix from his melancholic life.  His overprotective mother chooses completely the wrong spot and the fact he is a wheelchair user disbars him from the short wooden pier and the welcoming waters of the lake.  He spots a pretty young girl and things begin to look up but when tragedy threatens to strike it is up to Felix to save the day.

Weightless is about that time in your life when you long to break free of the apron strings, when love comes calling for the first, breathless time and about achieving independence through your own actions, regardless of the cards you may have been dealt. I have been meaning to feature this charming short by Bobin Film for some time – and watching it again I have no clue why I haven’t – it’s just lovely. 
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Hybris


Take a trip around a nature reserve with something of a difference: all the animals within its walls are hybrids.  Above you can see the killer whale penguin hybrid, just one of menagerie caught on camera by a pair of intrepid French journalists (in truth students at ArtFX). However, things do start to get a little worrying when their guide leaves them and they stray where they shouldn’t…
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The Spotted Lake of Osoyoos

A short ride northwest of the small Canadian town of Osoyoos there is a body of water which has come to be known in English as Spotted Lake.  It is believed to be the most mineralized lake on the planet with 365 ‘circles’ – one for each day of the year – in a myriad of shapes, sizes and depths. It is an extraordinary natural phenomenon.

It is called by the Ki lil xw (pronounced Kliluk) by the Okanagan, one of the aboriginal peoples in Canada collectively called the First Nations.  For them, it is a sacred medicine lake and their people have been coming to the lake in search of cures for various ailments for centuries.  There are hundreds of ceremonial cairns surrounding the lake, many of which are so old that they have been buried by time.

26 November 2017

The History of the Tulip


The Himalayan mountain range was the original home of the tulip even though most of us associate the flower with the Netherlands.  How it got there makes for a fascinating story, from the courts of the Turkish dynasties to its Dutch arrival, this animation gives us the whole history.  That shouldn’t really be too much of a surprise as it was created especially for the Tulip Museum in Amsterdam by Stepahne Kaas, an independent Dutch maker of film, documentaries, short fiction, music videos, commercials and this.

When the tulip got there it was considered such a rare and interesting flower that it sparked something of a social frenzy which would eventually lead to the down fall of an entire economy (known as the tulip bubble).  It’s amazing to think that a single flower could be responsible for all of that, but watch the video and discover the truth for yourself!
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The Sim Chung Story


This is a rather lovely animated version of a traditional Korean myth.  It tells the story of a dutiful daughter, Sim Chung, whose mother died when she was young and whose father is blind.  Promised that his life will be restored if she sells herself to sailors for sacrifice, Sim Chung does so and as she hits the waves her adventures are barely beginning.

You do have to bear with the first minute or so of this animated short by M9 as it does take time to tell the story before the full visual treat gets underway.  But do stick with it – the underwater sequences are quite lovely.  Plus the denizens of the deep put Gershwin to good use!
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Bismuth: Beautiful Diamagnetic Chemical Element

Until the 18th century it was often mistaken for tin or lead. Yet once refined in to its purest form it becomes a thing of great beauty. About twice as abundant as gold, the chance are you have come unwittingly in to contact with it if you have ever had a minor digestive upset. As a bismuth oxide core structure with salicylate ions attached to the surface (uh huh) you probably know it as Pepto-Bismol. What you see here is the chemical element bismuth in crystalline form.

Paris Hyperlapse


The time-lapse is dead, long live the hyperlapse!  This is perhaps not a completely truthful statement but one which could be argued over a glass of wine or two.  And where better to do that than the city of lights, Paris?  This remarkable hyperlapse by Kirill Neiezhmakov shows the city in all its spectacle.

The video shows some of the best examples I have seen of the hyperlapse techniques which involves moving the camera while still shooting at a speed normally associated with time-lapse.  It’s a new(ish) technique and one that has been evolving at some speed recently - Neiezhmakov and his ilk are comfortably taking it to the next level with some huge, sweeping shots that make you wonder exactly how they were done.  They  certainly make me scratch my head.  Have a gawp and see if you can work it out yourself.
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12 November 2017

The Dandelion - Whimsical World-Wide Weed

The humble dandelion. From your garden to almost the ends of the earth this small but conspicuous plant flourishes. Gardeners do not appreciate its presence, considering it a weed, even though its flowering usually indicates the beginning of the honey bee season and could be seen as a welcome sign. Its simplistic looking structure hides a few surprising secrets and its cultural resonance, especially in Europe is strong. Here is a short but sincere homage to one of the small wonders of our botanical world.

Let’s start with the names, both common and scientific. In English, dandelion is a corruption of the French. Originally it was called ‘dent de lion’ and the name came over in 1066 with a certain William and his Conquerors. It means ‘lion’s tooth’ and many people mistakenly believe it refers to the orange colored flower head, confusing the words beard and tooth.

Sprout


A woman decides that she wants a child and goes about getting one in quite an unconventional way.  She decides to go mail order and grow one in a plant pot.  Although this is not quite what one might expect to have delivered using Amazon et al, this animated short by Anne Breymann could prove one day to be a cautionary tale!  Be careful if you were going to click the play button expecting a happy ending!

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Polaroid


Is it the things that you can’t see that terrify you the most?  Perhaps you had better not watch this, then, for there are ways to see behind the corner of your eye in to a different world.  Written, produced and directed by Joey Greene this is not for the faint-hearted especially if you are not a big fan of those made me jump and I’m still clinging to the ceiling by my fingernails moments.

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5 November 2017

Spain on the Edge

For many, Spain is and forever will be associated with its beautiful coastline and beaches and that is certainly where most tourists head.  However, there is an altogether steeper side to this larger than you might have thought country on the Iberian Peninsula.  This is Spain on the edge.

Our first stop is Malaga to the town of Ronda which dates back to Neolithic times.  The town of over thirty thousand people is built either side of a dizzying ravine.  There are three bridges which span the gap between the sides.  First there is the Puente Romano or Roman Bridge. There is the Puente Viejo or Old Bridge, and then comes the Puente Nuevo (New Bridge – which is the name it was given when it was completed in 1793).

I Am Here


Alone in an aging cosmos, a traveler's pilgrimage comes to an end.  He has a story to tell but who to tell it to at the end of time and space?

This enigmatic animated short was created by Eoin Duffy, whose work we have featured a number of times on Kuriositas.

Stick with it to the end…
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The Last Time


Have you just quit smoking or are on the verge of giving up? Then this is for you.  One woman struggles with trying to finish with cigarettes forever but, like some sort of destructive relationship, she is just drawn towards them again and again (and includes some strong language).  The Last Time, directed by RCA graduate Christine Hooper and narrated by Charlotte Ritchie of Fresh Meat fame, captures just how hard it is for smokers to stub out love’s flame.

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4 November 2017

Please Help Keep Kurositas Online

You may or may not know this but Kuriositas is curated by just one person – and that person would be me! There are a number of expenses that the site incurs each month and so, with my cap in my hand, I’m going to beg a favour.

If you enjoy Kuriositas, please consider helping out with the cost of running the site.  As you can guess, it takes a lot of time and effort, too!

Below this post you will see a button which will enable you to make a contribution safely and securely. There is also a Support Kuriositas button right at the top right hand corner of the site.

You can give as little or as much as you like – I’m not going to limit your choices. Anything will be gratefully received and will help to ensure that I can carry on bringing you all the great science, art and interesting things in-between that makes the site what it is.

So, if you read or watch something that you have really enjoyed, please think about sending us a small donation. Thanks!

Best regards

Robert-John

PS: The donation page is set to US dollars as that is where we get most of our traffic from. So, if you are outside the USA please remember to calculate the amount from your currency first!

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Hollywood Zombies


This new movie imagines a Hollywood overrun by a zombie virus, where all of your favorite stars are turned in to the living dead and stalk the world in search of flesh. Well, sounds like a great idea but this is a fake trailer by the super-talented Fabrice Mathieu.

Once more, Fabrice has put his very clever film editing techniques in to full-throttle – I for one would pay to see this movie!

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Mistletoe – Festive Favorite on the Decline

Kissing under the mistletoe has been a tradition since Victorian times in England and before that in other countries. When the railway arrived in the UK, this yuletide habit spread from southern England to the north and beyond. The chances are if you are offered a seasonal kiss then the person making the offer may well be waving a bunch of it over your head.

The legends around mistletoe go back further than a few centuries – it has always been associated with fecundity and the winter solstice. The white fruit has a parallel with human reproduction which is impossible to avoid – and one of its favorite hosts, the apple tree, is also a favorite among people.

29 October 2017

The Devil in the Cathedral: the Lucifer of Liège

Cathédrale Saint-Paul (Liège 2017)
The Cathedral of Saint Paul in the Belgian city of Liège was founded in the tenth century.  As one might expect from a Catholic place of worship it is full of representations of the men and women from the history – Biblical and otherwise – of Christianity.  Yet as the pulpit is approached, a striking white marble sculpture arrests the eye: a beautiful young man in an agony of thought. Which venerable icon of the church might this be?  A martyr? A disciple? Or even an angel? It is the latter but this angel is notorious, despised, fallen. It transpires that there is a sinner – and a significant one at that - in the midst of the saints.

The Lucifer of Liège
Amung Feedjit
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