22 February 2015

1900 – 2000


Everyone has to eat, even if they are from the year 2000.  Time travellers Georges and Madeleine audition for a show but the theater manager is less than impressed with what they have to show… Can they come up with something truly spectacular? This animated short by a very talented group of young animators is hugely enjoyable –and explains a little history (sort of) along the way.
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19 February 2015

¡MONSTRO!


Somewhere up the Amazon a ramshackle team searches for a legendary creature, possible a distant relative of one once found in a black lagoon.  They are closer than they think but when it appears, mostro turns out to be Amazonian in more ways than one.  Directed by Chris Romano, the monster movies of the 1950s now have an absolutely fabulous contemporary stablemate!
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Japan – The Land of Vending Machines

Anyone who lives in a town or city is used to the sight of the odd vending machine. As a convenience they have no equal – at least when they work or have not run out of the product they are supposed to sell. Yet where most countries have vending machines for a limited range of goods the Japanese have taken it to extremes. Japan truly is the country of vending machines and some of the items you can get from them might surprise you.

Image Credit Flickr User Livvy
Who needs people to sell meat and vegetables when a machine will do just as well?  Here a variety of green things are on sale to those who wish to purchase.  To many people in the rest of the world this would seem like quite an odd idea – those who like to have a good squeeze of their veggies before buying them would have to break the glass first.

Spelling Rules for the Zombie Apocalypse


In my other life I am a college lecturer, teaching 16-19 year olds, many of whom do not have English as their first language.  In order to help them engage with the language I try to make the (potential) tedium of learning a little more visually stimulating (at least when I have the time!).  This is one such attempt.  A large number of my students are currently obsessed with The Walking Dead so I thought I would attempt something along similar lines but with a little learning thrown in for good measure (other than that which we learn from the show itself).

Spelling rules for the zombie apocalypse
? Yes, I know – good spelling is the last thing one would probably consider during this sort of extinction level event (the nonsense of it appealed to me).  I suspect that I had more fun making it than my students will have working through it!

As frequent readers of Kuriositas will know, I love animation but my own skills are somewhat lacking, so please forgive the amateur nature of the video above!
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18 February 2015

Roommate Wanted - Dead or Alive


If you have ever been a student then you have probably had to face the prospect of living with strangers in order to afford a place to live and all its associated expenses. So it is with this medical student in this entertaining short by students of the Animation Workshop. Yet smelly socks and untidiness are the least of this medical student’s problems when his prospective roommate turns out to be a zombie.
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Monkey Symphony


Planet of the Apes this ain’t.  Or maybe it is – it’s all about timelines, after all.  Two talented chimpanzee pianists are forced to go their separate ways but years later their paths cross again.

This enjoyable animated short was created by a group of very talented students at ESMA, the world renowned graduate art school in Montpelier, France.
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17 February 2015

How an Astronomer advanced the Continental Drift Theory


Why are there oceans and why are there continents?  Between 1906 and 1908 Alfred Wegener went on an expedition to the high arctic, doing experiments which had never been done before while trying his best to survive at the same time. As unlikely as it sounds he became the scientist (and he wasn't even a geologist) behind the theory of continental drift. Flora Lichtman and Sharon Shattuck have the story.
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Dragonfly Delight - Amazing Macrophotography

The sight of a dragonfly is one of the more remarkable that nature has to offer. The Ark In Space, with the help of some astounding macrophotography, takes a look at the life cycle of the dragonfly as well as its remarkable and unusual physiology.

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Remember Lidice

On 2 July 1942, most of the children of Lidice, a small village in what was then Czechoslovakia, were handed over to the Łódź Gestapo office. Those 82 children were then transported to the extermination camp at Chełmno 70 kilometers away. There they were gassed to death. This remarkable sculpture by by Marie Uchytilová commemorates them. Yet what had they (and their families) done to warrant such an end?

The events leading to their death were complex but the pivotal moment had been the assassination of the Acting Reichsprotektor of the Nazi Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, Reinhard Heydrich. Czechoslovakia had been occupied by Nazi Germany since the April of 1939 and Heydrich was a greatly detested figure of oppressive authority. He was attacked by a British trained team of Czech and Slovak soldiers. From the moment of his death a week later on June 4, 1942, from septicemia caused by his injuries, the whole country knew there would be reprisals. Nothing, however, could prepare them for the horror that was to come.

Richard Wagner's Parzival interpreted as a Lush Fashion Video


The stories say that the Holy Grail will only reveal itself to a pure fool enlightened by compassion.  Shot at Chateau de Pierrefonds and Abbaye d'Ourscamps, this gorgeous fashion short directed by by Julien Landais takes the prelude to Wagner’s Parzival and interprets the essence of the story in just over five minutes. It stars Sarah Marshall, Emily Caillon and Thibault Theodore Babin.
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A Message from the Year 10191


Mons is the European Capital of Culture 2015 so to get the year underway the Belgian city unleashed CLOE on an unsuspecting audience.  Created by Dirty Monitor this is a Video mapping performance at 360° featuring a vision of the future transmitted to the past.  The courtyard of Mons’ Carré des Arts (the city’s Graduate School of Art Federation) was transformed as all four sides became the surface for 20 video projectors covering 4400 square meters. Amazing work.
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Watch the Tardis Take Off and Land Like You Have Never Seen Before


Don’t you just love it when new life is breathed in to something that you already adore? The Tardis, that time and space machine which has carried a certain Doctor around for over fifty of our earth years, is always seen dematerializing (and re-materializing) in the same manner. And who would have it any other way?

Yet – just yet – YouTube Timelord John Smith has created this amazing sequence which shows how take-off and landing might seem from the perspective of the Tardis herself.  It’s so I decided that the screenshot to the left would have to be of the Tardis just before dematerialises so as not to spoil any of it (or was it just the whole thing moves too damn quickly?) Whatever the case, I love it!
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15 February 2015

The Giant Puffball: Nature’s Orbicular Idiosyncrasy

There are worse things you can find in the woods.  As summer turns to fall, woodland and meadows the world over play host to one of nature’s more orbicular idiosyncrasies.  It is large, round, white and has a distinctly extra-terrestrial appearance.  Yet the giant puffball is very much of this world, albeit one of its stranger fungal denizens.

It can also make for a tasty meal.

Image Credit Nunzy Gareffa
As much as anything else the giant puffball is noticeable and notable by its unexpected and sometimes astonishing size.   It has a distinct lack of camouflage advantage and can become a meal – not to mention a temporary home – to any passing herbivore such as the rabbit above.  Yet although easy prey to animals its structure is immensely strong.  Giant puffballs have been seen to push up slabs of asphalt as they develop, such is the powerful forces generated by their growth.

Pandemonio


This amazing animation by Valerio Spinelli (aka Pixelpongo) features a kaleidoscope of cultural icons, monsters and other bizarre creatures brought to life by a process of overlapping felt circles – yet fuzzy felt this ain’t.  In an act of respect to the marvel of geometry, no shape was stretched or shaped out of its circular perfection.  The result is a menagerie of the extraordinary brought to life through unexpected means.
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Valentine’s Day a Disaster? This May Make You Feel Better


No cards or chocolates or roses or anything remotely valentiney? Never mind! Romance isn’t always everything that it’s cracked up to be.  Sometimes (to misquote the Pet Shop Boys) love might come quickly and you can’t stop falling. In Cupid by 23½ (filmmaker Daniel Harding's production company) two strangers inexplicably catch each other’s eye. However. sometimes, compatibility isn’t always guaranteed when cupid has a hand…
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Ballet Dancer Sergei Polunin interprets Hozier’s Take Me to Church


There are still many people who would never classify ballet as cool – not that their opinion matters much to those who know otherwise.  Yet if any of you still need convincing take a look at this.  Ukrainian ballet dancer Sergei Polunin (the Royal Ballet’s youngest ever principal) takes Take Me to Church by Hozier and simply dazzles throughout.  The video was directed by David LaChapelle with choreography by Jade Hale-Christofi.
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Watch the Potter’s Wheel from the Perspective of the Vase


If you have ever seen Ghost (the 1990 movie starring Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore) then you will be aware of how the potter’s wheel can be manipulated on film to become something quite, well, suggestive.  Not to anthropomorphize ceramics, of course, but one can only wonder how the poor vase felt. 

This short featuring Eric Landon of Tortus in Copenhagen goes some way to address that grave injustice. It follows the process of ceramic making from the perspective of the vase rather than the person, the creation rather than the creator (which sounds like something of a lesson for life).  Patrick and Demi may have been cute (and Eric is rather dashing too) but the real beauty can be found in the process of creation, dizzying though it may be at times. I would almost guarantee that you won’t be able to stop watching this until the process is complete. And then you might have to hold on to something for a while.
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14 February 2015

Love Valley – Seeing is Believing

Love Valley in Cappadocia, Turkey certainly has a claim to fame – a very large one. Rather euphemistically named, the valley is home to rock structures that bear a passing resemblance to… well - make your own mind up. Seeing, as they say, is believing.

Cappadocia (Kapadokya in Turkish) is a region of exceptional natural wonders, none more so than the giant monuments left by Mother Nature in Love Valley. Situated in the very heart of modern day Turkey this natural wonder sits on a high plateau over a thousand meters in altitude. Rainfall is sparse in this area and the place has hot dry summers and bitterly cold snowy winters. There is little rainfall and so the region is generally arid. In this environment these huge phallic natural structures seems like some sort of ancient homage to male fertility. However, they are far from man-made despite the possible resemblance to manhood.

Paramotor Paradise


I must have lived a sheltered life as I had never heard of a paramotor before today (and neither has my spellchecker but that is neither here nor there).  Now I have I have this overwhelming urge to go and enlist in the closest paramotoring club and take to the skies using this elegant and very, very cool form of transport.

Essentially a paramotor is a powered paraglider and combines the ease of flying you get with the latter with the added bonus of powered flight.  Ed Lowder, who has flown helicopters and planes for three decades, explains in this video by Christopher of featherlightppg.com why he has never had more fun in the sky than when zipping along in his paramotor.
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13 February 2015

Valentine


This Valentine’s Day you might just realize that love has been lingering (rather like a bad smell) under your nose for some time.  Or perhaps not.  This one is for you if you are single, especially if you have a friend with boyfriend problems who simply will not shut up about it! However you spend the day, hopefully this short film by Kate Herron will brighten up your day a little.
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Glow-in-the-dark Borrowers Arrive in San Francisco


Indoor miniature golf seems like enough of a draw for any restaurant but not for Urban Putt in San Francisco.  They commissioned artist, designer and technologist Dan Rosenfeld to create Sleepwalkers, an interactive installation which is so cool it will probably attract more diners than the golf course. These tiny luminous beings living in the walls of the restaurant really do put the miniature in to golf.  Someone put me on a plane to San Francisco. Now.
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Cloudrise


When you suddenly see the rest of your life in front of you it can be a breath-taking experience. So it is for Miko and Tenku who have achieved their dream of a cloud ship of their own.  Yet when their dream becomes a nightmare they are faced with the greatest challenge of their lives – to get to live another day.  This thrilling animated short was directed and animated by Denver Jackson.
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Mo‘ynaq – Graveyard of Ships in the Desert

Many have visited an abandoned city and wondered what catastrophic event could have caused such an exodus from a metropolis once so evidently thriving. Yet these cities are usually hundreds if not thousands of years old, the everyday clamor and cry of civilization just an echo. Visit Mo'ynaq in Uzbekistan, however, and you can see apocalypse right here, right now.

The Soviet era sign still welcomes people to the city. Yet there are few visitors who stay more than a few hours. They all leave after they have done looking at what is reminiscent of a scene from a science fiction disaster movie - big ships adrift in the desert.
Amung Feedjit
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