31 October 2010

Welcome to the Kuriositas Halloween Special.  We thought that for the next day or so we would devote our pages to that night which comes along once a year - and try and frighten the beejesus out of you.  Honestly, would we do that?  Really?  Well, maybe.  Enjoy our Halloween offerings - and may whoever you may believe in have mercy on your soul....

30 October 2010

Teddy Saw


Were you ever mean to your toys when you were a kid?  If you were then perhaps you should think twice before watching this - because toys have a long memory and they will catch up with you and punish you eventually.

Created by Ben Schwartz this short film will have you on the edge of your seats.  Will the now grown up abuser of toys be given his just desserts or will he escape? 

Only time will tell - and in the great tradition of horror movies he does not have much of that...

Monster Date


Those crazy kids over at the Vancouver Film School are the modern day equivalents of Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney.  The big difference, though, is that instead of putting on a show, these guys create a very funny and hugely enjoyable video for Halloween.  This has absolutely nothing to do with their degree work, it was just something that they felt like doing.  And what an awesome job they make of it!

The concept is quite simple and straightforward (which is why perhaps it makes this such blissful viewing).  Harkening back to the video dating fad of the 1980s this piece features a series of lonely hearted monsters in search of the special one.  Most varieties of monsters are represented, from vampires to zombies and there is even an appearance by a genie.  There are quite a number of great one liners, but for me, the genie has just about the best line - " I'm not looking for a girl who's just interested in rubbing my lamp".

The monsters here are fairly reminiscent - in terms of makeup and character - to the types we used to see in Buffy - and the whole thing is produced with wit and panache.  If this is what the students at the VFS make in their spare time, one can only wonder what amazing films they come up with for their degree projects.

Is this a tribute or a pastiche?  Who can really tell and to be frank, who cares?  It is great stuff, especially coming up to Halloween.  The fun doesn't stop there either.  The makers are inviting responses over at their YouTube channel. If you have the desire, you can create your own response (you have to be in full fancy dress) and submit it there.

28 October 2010

An Epick Story of Love and Puppets


We didn't deliberately set out to make today music day on Kuriositas but we had to make space for this little gem by Epick featuring Elle King.  This is the new video for the NYC based hip hop artist and is entitled I don't Mind. Puppet meister and animator Jonah Oskow  has just finished shooting it.  It made us smile!

While we are not sure about the legality of inter-species love affairs we would have to make an exception here as they seem generally quite happy - albeit a tad dysfunctional - though we might have been spared a few of the bedroom scenes!

Born on the Upper west side of New York City, Epick has been making music since he was a Cathedral School chorister - which no doubt has nothing to do with his affinity to puppets.  Although his music is yet to go global we are assured that his first EP (the oddly titled Six Inches - well, I never!) was appreciated by all his friends and family who rated it as really good.

That's how we classify this video - really, really good - and it deserves more than the two thousand or so hits it has had on YouTube!  This is an artist who needs to be at the forefront a little more - he has already made successful commercial music for the likes of Honda and Sprite so you probably know his music, if not his name already.  Epick, this was epic!

Click on the picture of the happy couple to get the tine on that new fangled itunes website.

North Korea's Military parade in Slow Motion


A short time ago the regime of Kim Jong-il in North Korea allowed the international media in to watch its largest ever military parade.  This was part of their ever so slightly obvious campaign to establish his son, Kim Jong-un as heir apparent (although the irony of a communist state having this sort of royal lineage is apparently lost on the family).

That aside, Guardian UK staff Dan Chung and Tania Branigan could hardly pass up this invitation and this film is a lasting visual record of their time their.  It was shot on Canon 60D and most of it is in slow motion - you get a real sense of being there.

Creep - New Animated Interpretation of the Radiohead Song


Jaw, meet floor. You may have heard the musical interpretation of the Radiohead song Creep if you saw some of the trailers for The Social Network before it hit the cinemas.

It is sung by the Scala & Kolacny Brothers choir which is a rather bizarre name for one which consists completely of female singers, but there you go.  The reason why it has that name is that the choir is run by two brothers, Stijn and Steven who conduct and accompany the Belgian choir.  A haunting version of the song, no doubt, but now joined with a visual element.

The choir's interpretation of the song is different, to say the least and that is probably what attracted animator Alex Heller.  This from Ms Heller herself - My name is Alex and I am trapped in the suburbs. I have absolutely nothing better to do than fantasize about other people's lives. That's a nice (possibly tongue in cheek) introduction but take her talents as an animator, a Belgian girl's choir and a Radiohead song beloved by many and you might think that you have a recipe for disaster.

Not so.  The three come together seamlessly.  I was absolutely blown away by this animation and it just goes to show (Mr Pixar) that you don't need a huge budget to produce an animation that has class, pathos and a real heart. We all want to belong but sometimes recreating ourselves to suit others will end in more rejection and hurt than if we just remain true to what we are.  This wonderful short animation is composed of 1554 pictures, shot with a Nikon D60.  Fantastic.

If you are curious to see what theBelgian Scala & Kolacny Brothers choir look like in the flesh, here they are performing the song on a Dutch TV show.

27 October 2010

Leonardo da Vinci - His Women in 2.5D


I am sure that Leonardo da Vinci would never have envisaged his art being used in this manner but I would like to think (finger crossed) that he would have approved. 

This is a hypnotic piece of animation by the enigmatic Alicia7777777 (seven sevens!) and features a number of the women painted by the master during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.  All in all we get to see seven of his works in a different light than usual.

Here is the running list if you need reminding which work is which.

  • 00:03 – Mona Lisa or La Gioconda
  • 00:16 – Ginevra Benci
  • 00:29 – La belle ferronnière
  • 00:43 – Lady with an Ermine
  • 00:57 – Madonna Litta
  • 01:11 – Madonna mit der Nelke (Madonne à l'enfant)
  • 01:28 – Benois Madonna
If you like this then you may very well want to visit Alicia7777777's Vimeo page where she has a series of equally entrancing animations.  There she take son the likes of Salvador Dali, Vermeer and El Greco among a number of others.  Strange, fascinating and delightful work.

Lancelittle


I love this. The adventures of a knight on his imaginary horse are just the sort of thing to brighten up a grey autumnal day. Directed by Alexandre Iliach it has a little twist in its tale which although half expected makes this a nicely rounded piece of animation. It takes me back to the time when... well, that's another story.

Here you can follow Lancelittle's adventures as he pursues a mysterious ball of wall.  Up and down the land he follows it and encounters one or two obstacles on the way. Will his quest ever end?  Watch the animation and find out!

26 October 2010

The Birds: Hitchcock's Prequel Rediscovered after 47 Years


Alfred Hitchcock was known to experiment with different and new ways of making movies and this is a prime example.  When a movie is successful these days there are not only sequels but quite often prequels too. This is just one example - and it looks as if it is going to be just as good as the original. Languising in the vaults for years this could prove to be Alfred Hitchcock's lost masterpiece that the world has been wondering about for so long.

Shot back to back with the original in 1963 Hitchock experimented with this way of making films decades before Peter Jackson did it with The Lord of the Rings trilogy. However, the studio at the time thought that the audience would tire of two films on the same subject and mothballed the project, releasing what they thought would be the more luvrative of the two movies.

Its filming and very existence was clouded in such secrecy that it had almost come to be thought of as simply one of those Hollywood legends until it was recently rediscoverd.  Now it has been found again it is hoped that it will gain at least the reputation of the film that was released in its place.

ROA’s Rabbit in a Stew

For some it is simply graffiti and should be treated as such – painted over and forgotten about. For others, ROA the secretive Belgian street artist left something remarkable on Hackney High Street last year which should be preserved.

When he exhibited his work in Hackney, London last year the artist asked the owners of a recording studio if he could leave a memento on the wall of their premises. They agreed and so the rabbit took shape. However, Hackney Council has now served the owners with a removal notice.

They have 14 days to do it themselves otherwise the council will ask a contractor to come along and remove or obliterated the graffiti. The building’s owners are horrified (as are we at Kuriositas Towers to be honest) that the street art has been condemned so blithely by a local authority which depends financially to an extent on those who come to see its street art. Perhaps they might send the contractors out to clean the streets for the same amount of time - it could be argued that the pavements of Hackney would be better served by this than a certain wall by paint.

Sadly, it looks likely that the rabbit will end up being removed. Only last year a Banksy piece of the royal family which had been present for almost ten years was painted over by the London council. Philistines.

Watch out for our forthcoming piece on ROA!

Vintage Computer Ad Fest

It is easy to forget, sometimes, which products made us excited in the past. Back in 1984, the year of Big Brother (original stylee), one of the neatest little portables around was the Epson Geneva.  It even had plug-in application ROMs to make up for the lack of disk space.  Show a teenager this today and the first thing they will point out is that the screen is tiny and - where on earth is the mouse? Well as this was the year that the Apple Macintosh was introduced (remember that advertising campaign?) you could tell them that it was the year the mouse really took off.  But not for the Epson Geneva, which you could get for just under a thousand dollars. Talking of money...

Sorry about the length of this ad but you have to give it to the people who designed it - make it as loooong as possible and get the customer excited about the 286 processor (ah the days before they put the p in to pentium.  Yet look at the price!  As Shaggy would say - yikes!  Despite the high class processing power of the 286, $2,699 is rather steep for 1987 prices, don't you think?  A real WTF moment before the term acronym was invented.

If that price is something they would not get away with nowadays, the advertisment above harkens back to when the Mad Men could be overtly sexist and get away with it.  If she can only cook as well as Honeywell can compute is the byline.  Oh dear.  The Honeywell Kitchen Computer never quite did what it promised either - to revolutionise kitchen planning but although you may mark them down for the innate sexism of their ad they were prescient in one way.  Many people do use their laptops (etc) in the kitchen these days, albeit not always to help them cook. This product came out in 1969, the year after 2001: A Space Odyssey.  More optimistic times perhaps?

Although the word hubris might spring immediately to mind with the advertising campaign for the short lived Honeywell Kitchen Helper, then chutzpah might be an appropriate word to describe Apple's 1976 ad above.  Two hunded years after the revolution and they had the audacity to tell the business world that they could make better decisions than Jefferson by using their computer systems.  Crikey!

Staying with Apple for a while, they certainly knew how to shock - male nudity (partial or otherwise) was virtually unheard of in advertising in1980 but Apple were struggling with getting their products' uses across to the wider population.  So, they started a creative writing competition, asking people to write about the unusual or interesting use you've found for your Apple.  It can only be wondered how many of the entries were deemd unsuitable for digestion by the general population.  Today, the wording of the competition would have to be thought through very, very carefully.

Perhaps it was a hard lesson, but there was more than a single fatal flaw comparing utilities software with superheros as Norton did in 1995. Mmm.


One company that could see the future was Atari - this ad from 1982 does play it safe in a number of ways.  It emphasises the educational advantages of a home computer, it stresses that you can solve problems like mortage and loan analysis and that their home computer will allow you to manage your world a lot better.  However.  The little girl is playing Caverns of Mars.  Way ahead of their time!

Before we discuss the ad itself, what is the name of the actor at the far right?  I recognise his face but cannot put a name to it - he was obviously jobbing at the time but went on to greater things. This ad stresses the fact that it will be computing power that will extend productivity and that one programmer will be able to do so much more work but within the same hours. In other words, don't panic, it won't be you doing an eighty hour week.  They lied.

ISC gave us the Intercolor 3261 in 1979 and it was one of the first ever desktops to give the world a color visual display unit.  It didn't come cheap, however - at the time it was priced at $3,300 which would be the equivalent of spending $10K on a PC these days.  Similar then to one of those ultra expensive cars in the showroom that people (OK, mostly men) gaze at longingly before moving in to their prcie range.

The Old Spice guy may have brought facial hair back in to the fold when it comes to advertising but there was a time back in the eighties when a lot of facial hair was no drawback to being the star of an advert.  If the crystal ball had been available to the makers of some of the products above they would have withdrawn the R&D money years before the product ever necessitated the advertisment.  Yet although in some ways these adverts would not see the light of day in 2010 you can't help but feel sometimes plus ca change.

25 October 2010

The Cousin Tree

If like me you come from a family with many branches it is sometimes difficult to remember who is what - certainly when it comes to the exact familial relationship that you have with them.  For example, if my Grandfather's sister had a child and that child had a child, what relationship does their child have with me?  Would they be a first cousin once removed or a second cousin?  It can all get quite bewildering, especially when you get in to the realms of things like first cousin twice removed and second cousin once removed.  For pity's sake!

(How did this picure of the day of the dead get here?)

So, imagine my relief when I was mooching around Wikimedia (hey, we all have to have our hobbies and serial killing, frankly, wasn't me) and I came across this.  It is a Cousin Tree which is a very straightforward way of finding who is who in your family in terms of their relationship with you.  To avoid confusion it starts with the straightforward (I am your father, Luke RJ!) and then goes on to the more complicated relationships, like who is your great grandmother's sister's great grandchild in relation to your good self (that would be your third cousin).

Finally, a simple diagram that maps out who is who in a family - this may well alter the pecking order chez Kuriositas on a permanant basis.  I will be printing a copy off in full color and taking it along to the next family wedding (most likely funeral to be frank, they always pack the old 'uns in) and shall be impressing various members of my family with my astounding in-depth knowledge of family trees, especially our own.  "Don't be silly!" I will hissper (a cross between a hiss and a whisper - and don't say you have never uttered one) during the service, "X is actually your third cousin twice removed! I mean, duh!"

Blimey - I am getting a little over excited about the prospect.  I may even have to laminate it.

Image Credit Wikimedia
Day of the dead image  Flickr User Glen's Pics

What is YOUR Favourite Sculpture?

The response to our recents Hands in the Sands was so good that we decided it would be a great idea to hand things over to you for a while.  So, with no more ado, let's get on with it.  What is your favorite sculpture?  I know that these things can change and I did think of appending the post's title with at the moment.  However, we will leave the question as it is.

If you could, please send me your favorite sculpture (I wish!  I should say details thereof) to taliesyn30@aol.com - or leave a message in the comment box below.  Please tell us what, where and by whom - and if possible a few sentences explaining why it is your favorite.  Plus your own name or handle (and country too if possible). We can start with mine. Although it is contemporary, don't let that stop you submitting something from Ancient Greece if it is your favorite!  I should be able to source high quality copyright free images - fingers crossed - but if it is something lesser known and you have taken some cool pictures yourself, please send them too!

Mine is a fairly new sculpture, only two years old.  It is called El alma del Ebro or in English The Soul of the Ebro, after the largest river in Spain.  It is the work of Jaume Plensa who was born in Barcelona in 1955. The sculpture is was specially commissioned for the International Exposition in Zaragoza.  The theme of the exhibition ws Water and Sustainable Development.  It encapsulated both my interest in the environment and in very, very large pieces of art - it is eleven meters in height.  The letters represent the cells of the human body which of course is made mostly of water.  White lettering and a hollow interior invite you to take a look inside, to peer indeed - and perhaps to reflect on our very personal relationship with H20.

Direct emails first!

1. Nike of Samothrace
From Melissa, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
"When I was 19 I took a 'sabatical' from college (after failing most of my classes) and convinced my parents to let me go to Paris and study french for a semester.  Among other things, I wandered around museums and parks, writing in my journal, trying to figure out the course of my life and generally wasting time.  One day at the Louvre I turned the corner and there she was, in all of her winged glory, soaring high above me.    I swear I heard trumpets.  It was there that I decided to start on the long road of unemployment and became an art history student.  I worked for an auction house but am now a repressed housewife who dreams of those afternoons spent wandering with my journal & colored pencils.  Some day I'll see her again......"
Commenter's Choices..(with a comment or two of my own!)

From Rozelle:
My favourite is The Motherland Calls in Mamaev Kurgan, Volgograd (previously Stalingrad). It's 85m tall and was named the tallest sculpture in the world from 1967 to 1989. I love the ferocious look on her face, it really does conjure up a Mother protecting her children from threat.
and here she is...
Yes, she is certainly scary - you wouldn't want her to be your mother if you were late for your dinner, that's for sure!  She belongs to a school of sculpture that isn't necessarily in vogue at the moment, representing such a full on and dare I say nationalistic stance.  However, having said that I am sure that history will judge her for her aesthetics more than the politics that stimulated her birth.

From Kaylar:
When I read the title, immediately Picasso's Goat came to mind. I've tried to shove it out, electing other, nicer scuptures; but there is just something about an artist using virtual garbage to create an animal that eats garbage..and I won't mention how he got the patina to look that way either
There were a few to choose from here (for reasons best left to a psychologist, Picasso had a thing about goats), so I am guessing that you meant this one, Kaylar!  It certainly does have a certain patina - now just how was that created?

OK - over to you!

AIDS - Graffiti Animation Scores


The issue of AIDS is still huge, despite the fact that the media do not seem to be paying it a huge amount of attention recently.  However, people are still getting the virus and are still getting ill and are still dying - so I do not make any apologies for presenting you this short animation, made for the French market, which some of you may judge as a little OTT for Kuriositas.

However, please, if you are offended by things of a suggestive, saucy or ribald nature then do not click on the play button of this video.

However, if you like seeing humor used as a way of getting across a very important public health  message, then click play now.  This is a clever piece of animation - and not done on the cheap either - which uses a piece of graffiti (the type seen at least since the days of Pompeii) to deliver the message - by making it come alive.  It (let's call the young lad Dick) doesn't get to deliver its, er, message until it learns a particular lesson.

This is, I think, the kind of sexual health message that would get the point across to its chosen demographic (young, dumb and full of aplomb) and by doing so it might derail the sensibilities of an older generation or those inclined to prudery.  Produced by the French agency TBWA PARIS, it was directed by the very talented Yoann Lemoine

The Panic Broadcast



We just had to include this somewhere in the run up to 30 October when (albeit in 1938) a notorious episode of the US radio drama Mercury Theater was broadcast.  As a special Halloweed treat they adpated HG Wells' novel of Martian invaders, The War of the Worlds.

In a series of new bulletins, the first forty minutes of the show was presented as a live on air eye-witness account of the invasion.  People looked at their radios strangely and half believed what they were hearing that night. What made it worse was the fact that Mercury Theater had no commercial breaks - so it just added to the realism of the show.

Some versions of history have it that there was mass panic.  This was simply not so but there was certainly mass indignation with many partially or completely taken in people complaining that the show had been too real (a complaint which still regularly happens about TV shows and movies to this day).  However, the whole thing did no harm to the career of the young man who had brought it all together - Orson Welles.

So, to celebrate that 30 October broadcast, here is a contemporary re-animation (as it were) of parts of the show, brought vividly to life by the Dead Astronauts.  There are even subtitles for our Spanish readers, which thanks to our latest stats I can tell you make up over 20% of Kuriositas' readership.It's a great adpatation of the broadcast - made even greater by the fact that all the characters are played by people knitted out of wool, possibly even crocheted.  Odd but strangely cool, or is that strangely odd but cool?

24 October 2010

The Man Who Saved The World?

Take a look at the face in the picture.  It is a man you have possibly never heard of.  His name was Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov and he quite possibly saved your life or, if you were born after 1962, those of your parents, so enabling you to be born.  He personally stopped the launch of a nuclear weapon which could have led to Armageddon between the word’s then superpowers, the USA and the USSR.

What decision led this farm boy from a small farm near Moscow (which is many miles from any coast) to become a sailor is not recorded.  However, he spent a distinguished naval career mostly in submarines during the Cold War.

Arkhipov had already had one scrape with history before the events of 1962.  The year previously he had been second in command of a K-19 submarine, a Hotel class nuclear sub which was prone to problems.  On American Independence Day 1961 the sub was south of Greenland when an explosion almost disabled the submarine.  It was only the self-sacrifice of seven members of the crew which resulted in their deaths that stopped the submarine from blowing up.

These crew members managed to improvise a circuit which enabled the reactor to cool.

However, the submariners had been about to riot – in fear of their lives from radiation poisoning - and it was only the cool headedness of Arkhipov and his personal backing of the Captain that saved the sub from a mutiny.

This would have made most people ready and willing to head for the hills and never see the inside of a submarine again.  Not Arkhipov, however and this was just as well.  The following year he faced his moment of truth – one which had he not held his cool might have led to the end of civilisation as it was then known.

In the October of 1962 Arkhipov was again deputy commander of a sub carrying anti-ship nuclear torpedoes, this time the Hotel class ballistic missile submarine B-59.  The submarine was off the coast of Cuba and the Missile Crisis was at its peak.  The US had established a naval blockade of the communist island and Arkhipov's submarine (along with three others) was ordered to sneak through and help set up a secret submarine base there.

So began a deadly game of cat and mouse which involved US destroyers dropping depth charges to try and flush the submarines from the hidden reaches of the sea.  Arkhipov’s submarine was trapped by the aircraft Carrier USS Randolph and eleven US Navy Destroyers.  The depth charges they dropped were practice ones, with the intent of driving the submarine to the surface.

Such was the bombardment that finally Arkhipov’s submarine surfaced.  It returned to the USSR with its metaphorical tail between its legs.  Arkhipov continued in the service of the Soviet Navy, rising to the rank of Vice Admiral (below) and retired sometime in the mid 1990s.  He died in 1999.

Yet what was not discovered until years later were the activities on the submarine before it surfaced.   The Captain of the submarine, his nerves shot to pieces by the bombardment had ordered the assembly of one of the nuclear torpedoes and had been preparing to take a shot at one of the destroyers.

He believed that a war must have already started.

Moscow had left the decision to use one of these nukes with the captain of the submarine but with a proviso.  If he felt the need to use the weapon the next two officers in terms of rank had to agree to its use as well.  The political officer on board said yes.  The Executive Officer, Arkhipov, said no.

As such the shot that could have triggered a nuclear war never happened.  One can only imagine what the world might be like today if Arkhipov had been the third to utter ‘yes’ on that fateful day.

Eleven


Have you ever needed to make a really important phonecall really quickly and then been held in a really irritating holding queue with an automated voice for company?  If so then you will appreciate (and perhaps commiserate) with the protaganist, the numerically named 4511, of this very funny animated short by Anzovin Studio.

Here a regular Starship Trooper finds himself in a sticky situation and to avoid an even stickier ends he decides to call for an extraction team.  You can guess what happens next!  This is a highly enjoyable two minute which combines science fiction, comedy and animation with panache and flair.  It also plays nicely with the visual style of fps video game cut scenes.

Anzovin was founded ten years ago by the father and son team of Steve and Raf Anzovin with a remit to create CG character animation.  Their studio is based in the high-tech and cultural center of the Pionerr Valley in Massachussets.   They have worked with Intel, Lego and Microsoft among others.

95ers: Echoes - Uber Cool Ultra Indie Film Making


You should really take a look at this if you are interested in science fiction, independent film making – or indeed both. You wouldn’t want to feel left out when everyone else is talking about this, would you? In fact, you should probably be the first to talk about this.

95ers: Echoes is an ultra independent film making project. Driven by Tom Durham (the Director) and his wife Ali (who plays the lead role in the movie) this is as near to the definition of a labor of love that I have ever come across. For four years they have been working on this project and now the movie is almost completely finished. The sneak previews of the movie look like it will be something special – particularly because of (or perhaps, with apologies, despite) its ultra indie roots. The quality looks like mainstream film making and this project could really, really work.

The plot is classic science fiction fare. Sally (above) can rewind time a few seconds. Moment can be redone until they come out the way that she wants them.  As you can imagine this talent can come in handy. She works at the FBI and her life is under control not least because of this ability she has had since she was a child. However her scientist husband mysteriously disappears and then strangers appear who seem to know her abilities, possess technology from beyond our time and they soon determine their target – Sally herself. She must find the truth about what is going on before the very fabric of her being fades to nothing.

The story of the making of the movie could almost be a movie in itself. They had no money, no time and no friends in high places – certainly three prerequisites for getting a movie made these days (well, at any point in the history of cinema to be honest).

As well as that, this husband and wife team has four children, full time jobs and responsibilities. It must have taken an incredible amount of self-belief to get this far and they do come across as people who are totally sold on their own idea which is the first step in making it so (sorry, Jean Luc). The movie has represented a very long and hard road for both of them , involving guerilla shooting, going broke, grey hairs in abundance (so they say, they both look glowingly healthy!) – yet it still needs an extra push to get there. Let’s hand over to them to explain the situation.



The movie is now in post production, thanks to lots of things including a second mortgage not to mention generous family members. Tom and Ali are still looking for sponsors to help out with this final part of the project - as well as for people to simply spread the word.

For more information, take a look at their 95ers website. There is lots of information there about the project as a whole as well as how you can donate.  The pair are not asking for something for nothing, however.  There are loads of goodies that you can get by donating.  An evening out with Ali is not one of them - before you ask, gentlemen!

Hands in the Sands

All over the world sculptures have used terra firma is a visual metaphor for water.  Hands reach out from the sands in the most unexpected places.  We thought we would show you a selection. We will start with The Awakening which can be found on the Maryland shores of the Potomac.  The creation of J Seward Johnson Jr it consists of five separate parts, made from aluminium.

It had been the large statue rising from the ground in residence in the East Potomac Park since 1980 but was moved to the National Harbor in George's County in 2007.  At the time many people objected to its going, particularly the male members of the community who had been unable to resist, when boys, clambering in and out of the gian't mouth.

They still get to play with the statue in its new home however.  The overall impression we get from this statue is one of panic - it is as if the giant (who would be 100 feet high if he was standing) is drowning, a theme which many hands in the sands share.  The right foot and left hand are barely above the surface.  The right art, however, reaches out further - 17 feet all told.  Some think that the statue is of the sea god Neptune, others think it's just a great big aluminium impression of a man being buried alive.  The former explanation is best for the squeamish.

It also gives photographers the opportunity for some trick photography.

In Uruguay the sculpture Monument to the Drowned (Monumento al Ahogado) is know locally simply as La Mano or The Hand.  It is just that - a single hand protruding from the sands on Brava Beach in Punta del Este - one of the country's popular beach resorts.

The hand is the creation of Chilean artist Mario Irarrázabal and was made during a competition on the beach in 1982.  The competition was held on the public square but there were no places left so Irarrázabal decided to create his on the beach.  It serves as a warning that the waters at La Barra (part of the beach) are not safe for casual swimmers.

Irarrázabal completed the sculpture in only six days.  It is made from plastic and concrete reinforced with bars made of steel.  Although it occasionally falls foul of graffiti artists it is enjoyed by most (including it seems the local dogs) and is the only sculpture from the competition still in situ.

Irarrázabal  returned to his home country of Chile and to the Atacama Desert for his next project.  Entitled simply Mano del Desierto (Hand of the Desert) it is simply a hand protruding from the sand, but perhaps not quite human.  Is it a sign of greeting?

div style="text-align: center;">Image Credit Flickr User Teosaurio
It looks like something Fox Mulder may have used to claim that the truth is out there.

The scultpure is not in danger of being stolen.  It stands eleven meters (or 36 feet) and is too heavy to be taken away in the night unless by the most organised of art thieves.  Inuagurated in 1992 this statue too has been the victim of graffiti (which must be annoying, disappointing and perhaps distressing when you reach it).

It is near Route 5 which is part of the Pan-American Highway.  As such it has become a focal point or meeting place for on the road tourists, including these bikers from Compass Expeditions.  The guys certainly enable us to get a real feel for the sheer size of the Hand in the Desert.

Homigot in Korea is home to The Hand of Harmony. Not only is this hand on the beach but each day the waves lap around it.  Made of bronze and granite it is one of a pair, the other being safely on land.  However, to this writer it looks suspiciously like something Charlton Heston might find at the end of a film featuring talking apes.

It has proved difficult to discover the originator of this work.  Korean websites maintain that it was a gtoup effort and is a symbol of the pursuit by all Korean citizens of a better quality of life.  It certainly looks impressive in the light of dawn. Waving or drowning?

Help!
Do you know of any sculptures that would fit in with the others in this post?  If so, either leave a message below or contact Kuriositas using the Contact and Submit Links tab at the top of the page.  If we can find good quality Creative Commons pictures, we will add on to this and make it an ongoing 'project'.  Thanks!

First Reply!

Kuriositas reader Axton Nichols dropped me a line with a picture of the sculpture above.  He says "Your Hands in the Sands post reminded me of a statue here on campus at the University of Oklahoma.  Obviously it's not a hand, or in the sand, but I see it everyday when I go to class and have always thought it was neat."

It certainly is that. - OK it isn't quite hands in the sand but it is magnificent. It is called Pastoral Dreamer and is a triple life size bronze sculpture by David L Phelps originally commissioned in 2003.  Phelps is an internationally collected sculptor known for monumental contemporary figurative artwork in bronze, cast concrete and fabricated steel. He also creates small and medium sized sculptures as unique pieces and in editions of bronze castings.  Thanks, Axton for the picture.
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