30 June 2014

Happy Unhappy: A Cat's Tale


Sometimes it is the little things in life and not just the big ones that can pierce the heart. Alex the cat knows exactly how that feels because his life, right now, seems to be one long slog and he feels perforated and punctured on a daily basis. We all know an Alex, I think, and this animated short by Jean Liang, made at Sheridan College, points us towards the fact that little, everyday kindnesses can go a long way to heal a wounded heart.

Urban Giants


Between 1928 and 1932, Western Union and AT&T Long Lines built two of the most advanced telecommunications buildings in the world, at 60 Hudson Street and 32 Avenue of the Americas in Lower Manhattan. Nearly a century later, they remain among the world's finest Art Deco towers—and cornerstones of global communication. This is their history, as made by telx with rare pictures and stunning visuals.

To The Other Side


Can you imagine a future where our every whim is catered for? In this vision of the shape of things to come, a group of directors from ArtFX show us the life of the lotus eater in his earthly paradise and – as you might suspect – it is painless but clinical.  Yet will we still be the masters of our own choices? When our man of future days makes a very human mistake he discovers what lies beneath and he ventures to the other side.

Fight or Flight or Whatever


You can always ponder, perhaps even fantasize what you might do if the house was broken in to and you were there, on your own, face to face with masked and armed intruders. This happened to Rob Norman and he refreshingly points out right at the beginning asks poignantly what you do when, at the core of who you are, is a coward? Created by Andrew Norton and Chris Wardle, this talking head tells you exactly what Rob did.

Broken Wand


Things aren’t quite what they used to be for The Amazing Birdum. A washed up magician his audience has long ago departed. A visit from his game obsessed grandson, however, gives him the opportunity to use his broken wand again and to, perhaps, fix an ailing relationship. Yet can intergenerational magic happen? This is a very sweet (and beautifully made) animated short, directed by Anne Yang and Michael Altman at the School of Visual Arts.

Look What This University Did for its Online Military Students


Southern New Hampshire University has recently done something very special for some of its students.

If you were lucky enough to have studied education at a higher level then your graduation ceremony probably meant a lot to you.  It was, after all, the culmination of years of hard work and a way of announcing to the world that you had succeeded in gaining a diploma in your subject area despite any difficulties you may have encountered along the way.

Yet for some people, making it to that significant ceremony is not possible as they are doing something even more important. They are serving their country in its armed forces.  For many of the military students studying online courses at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) it meant that attending their graduation ceremony simply wasn’t going to happen.

So, the university did something rather special for them.  SNHU sent representatives around the world to deliver diplomas to members of the US military community who could not attend their graduation – and it was done as a surprise! Those in receipt of the diploma deliveries had no idea this was going to happen.

When you watch the video above you will see just what a joyful occasions this turned out to be for the lucky four who were visited. They included a sailor on active-duty in Singapore.  He had been provided with a military academic adviser while he had been studying, who offered support and understanding (having been in the forces too). Yet he didn’t bet on SNHU paying him a visit with his diploma.

Ranked 12th on Fast Company’s list of The World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies (the only university thereon), SMHU also offers traditional college courses for veterans and service personnel.  However, for these online students, at the apex of their studies, this visit must have been a graduation dream which came true.

If you are on Twitter, like this post and want to show your appreciation of  US military personnel, simply tweet with the hashtag #SNHUsalute

28 June 2014

Moving Brussels


Moving Brussels is framed as an experimental conversation between dancers and their city. Shot over three days the film marries 29 dancers with the Brussels city transport system. Each dancer was given 30-minutes on location to devise and improvise. As part of the international Moving Cities series, the film features an all Belgian cast, dance genres include ballet, contemporary, hip hop and Congolese.

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…

Street Artist JR Plasters the Paris Panthéon with Portraits

The secular temple of The Pantheon in Paris is home to the remains of thousands of France’s famous sons and daughters including Voltaire, Rousseau, Hugo, and Zola.  During the long overdue restoration of the vast shrine it was decided allow a contemporary project to take place in its environs to help mask some of the renovations. The ‘photograffeur’ and street artist JR collected thousands of portraits of everyday French people and has created one of the largest photographic collages the world has ever seen.

26 June 2014

SPARK: Generating Electricity Through Music


I remember when I was young seeing an artist’s impression of how electricity might be generated in the future – that future era being round about now. It involved pavements which took the power of footfall and produced energy from it. It hasn’t come to pass on a global scale but here is a new idea which I think could really take on.

Sudha, a British percussionist, has invented SPARK – a percussion shaker that converts the energy from playing it in to electricity. Although it is not going to light up the streets it does enable people to, say, charge up a mobile phone or run a light bulb for a few hours, so facilitating study in the hours of darkness.

That may not sound like much but in countries like Kenya, where three quarters of the population still live without electricity it could be a life changer. To learn more about this excellent project, please visit the kickstarter page. If this sounds like a great idea to you, then there is even an opportunity to become fully involved with it and visit Kenya to help out for a week.

22 June 2014

Made in Australia


In October 2012 Eddie Hobson and Sarah Cournay embarked on an epic project to capture Australia through the mediums of time-lapse photography and slow motion. The journey was dedicated to this purpose and they traveled by car, sea and air in excess of 43,000 kilometres, taking more than 300,000 photos. I think that you will find that it was all worthwhile when you watch Made in Australia which is quite phenomenal.

11 Paper Place


This is a boy meets girl story with a slight difference, given that the protagonists are made of paper. Yet if you have ever wondered what happens to all that paper that the work photocopier chews up you need look no further.

11 Paper Place was directed by Daniel Houghton and team for their thesis project at Middlebury College in Vermont, one of America's top liberal arts institutions.

Teeth


Teeth is a short “last laugh” tale of two old friends, their teeth and a series of events that leaves them lost for words.  As far as tales go it isn’t so much shaggy dog as hairless cat in as much as it is over pretty quickly.  Directed by Ruairi O’Brian and John Kennedy, it’s amazing how in just a few short minutes you can paint a picture of a lifetime’s friendly rivalry – and then have a chuckle at the end.

Flowers Opening: Time-lapse


I have friends who have tried creating a time-lapse of flowers opening and believe me, although it doesn’t look like it could be that hard, it is just the opposite. Flowers often do not behave in the way that you want them to and lighting is something which can greatly affect how the film turns out. Yet in his first attempt, David de los Santos has nailed it. You will see lilies, hibiscus and orchids opening in this wonderful time-lapse. How beautiful is nature.

Grounded


Ever had to look after your little brother? Then you will know just how the elder of these two young rabbits feels, especially when you have to spend a day with him at the funfair.  However, the naturally more adventurous younger brother also has a way of getting in the path of danger too… This very lovely animated short was created by a group of students for their thesis at Sheridan College.

The Fire Lab: How Do Fires Spread?


Massive wildfires cost billions of dollars and burn millions of acres in the U.S. every year, but we know surprisingly little about the basic science of how they spread. At the Fire Lab in Missoula, Montana, researchers reverse-engineer spreading fires using wind tunnels, fire-whirl generators, and giant combustion chambers. They're finding that fire is a mysterious phenomenon, and the physics behind it is often counter-intuitive.

16 June 2014

We Shall Not Overcome


You probably know that you have made it when a song of yours gets a stop motion animated fan made music video.  This was created by Rob Millard for Frank Turner’s gloriously anthemic but lyrically unconventional We Shall Not Overcome. The song celebrates individuality and honesty (not to mention a dollop of nonconformism) in such a joyously downbeat way you just have to smile. And the animation is cool too.

Cólera


Cólera is quite rightly getting amazing reviews and for more than just the reason that it is a one shot short film. Created by Spanish filmmakers Señor y Señora and starring one of Spain’s most talented and versatile actors, Luis Tosar, this is a morality tale with a twist. The population village round on a crippled outsider, who they fear and detest equally. Yet their act of intolerance will have consequences beyond their imagination.

Distal: The Men of the National Ballet of Canada


I regularly get requests for more dance on Kuriositas and so, ladies and gentleman, here is something rather special for you. The men of the National Ballet of Canada, Guillaume Côté, Piotr Stanczyk and Keiichi Hirano are presented here in very alluring black and white. Made by creative company Light and Hevvy this not only showcases their film-making skills but also the majestic grace of the dancers.

14 June 2014

Penny Dreadful - Original Opening Title Sequence


It’s always interesting to see something which never quite made it to our screens and this is certainly no exception.

The original opening sequence of Showtime’s Penny Dreadful was at first envisioned as an edgy modern take on classical horror but was cut when the network decided to market it as a strictly dramatic series, replacing it with the (still excellent) version we see on our TV screen each week.

This is something quite different. I especially like the art references throughout, particularly the last shot which channels Gericault's Raft of the Medusa most effectively.

Direwolf: How to Make the Stark's Emblem from Game of Thrones


You remember a few weeks ago when we showed you the fascinating process of making a dragon’s egg from Game of Thrones? The makers of that video, Rextorn Metalwork, were so chuffed by the reception that it got that they have now brought us this - the making of the Direwolf (Stark's Emblem).  Again the creation of this piece involves detailed planning and some exquisite repoussé and chasing techniques.  Watch in awe.

The Risk Not Taken


In a strange but wonderful world a creature envisions the fatal outcome of a potential decision and is granted a chance to alter future events.  The Risk Not Taken, directed by Alex Glawion, is a tale about  making the right decision but it also asks questions.  When the decisions are of such huge consequence, should one individual be allowed to make them? I can’t answer that one but this drew me in and didn’t let me go till the end.

1101: Remarkable New Sculpture Commemorates the First Minute of Peace after the Great War

The small seaside town of Seaham in the North East England unitary district of County Durham has, quietly and with only little reverential fanfare, unveiled what many are hailing as the most significant piece yet of contemporary art to commemorate the First World War.  1101 (otherwise known in full as Eleven-O-One) by local artist Ray Lonsdale is an almost three meter high sculpture in corteen steel of a single British soldier, head bowed and rifle still in hand. It has been an immediate success with local people, who have already nicknamed it Tommy (slang for an ordinary British soldier which although established in the 19th century is particularly associated with the First World War).

12 June 2014

11 Minutes


When he was a teenager, filmmaker Tom Botchii wrote a suicide note.  Fifteen years later he has used the note and made it in to this short psychological thriller.   A man goes on a shooting rampage – but how much, if anything, is real and how much is in his head?  As the last eleven minutes of his life plays out the shooter is filled with many conflicting emotions. What makes this film unusual and powerful, is that you don’t, despite the subject matter, see a single gun throughout.

Take On an Idea


When you have an idea it can spark something akin to a chain reaction.  The lights can go on in so many ways but sometimes you have to refine things until you return to your original idea. I guess that is my interpretation of this visually stunning piece by Fredrik Kasperi who was until recently a motion creative student at Hyper Island in Stockholm, Sweden.  This was his graduation piece.

8 June 2014

Cough


Set in a post-infectious society on the verge of a collective breakdown, Cough (directed by Jason Kempnich) features the social effects of a deadly virus on just a few individuals.  When food shortages during the pandemic force recently widowed George to drive far from home to survive in search of food,  a simple purchase of rations derails when he stumbles upon a Shopkeeper's secret, placing all of them in mortal jeopardy.

Motorbike


Sometimes you realize that walking was the better option. That aside the young protagonist of this animated short by Ari Gibson and Jason Pamment of Mechanical Apple decides that the best way to get to that all important first date is on his trusty motorbike. There were one or two small details he forgot to take in to account, however. Will he get to his date on time?

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.

Alan Turing - Celebrating the Life of a Genius


Yesterday saw the sixtieth anniversary of the death of Alan Turing – one of the most remarkable human beings of the twentieth century. A mathematical genius, hero of the World War II code breakers of Bletchley Park, and father of modern computing, Turing was a mathematician, cryptographer and pioneer of computer science who possessed one of the greatest brains of the 20th century. His life was one of secret accomplishments shadowed by public misfortune.

He was a bright child - condensing Einstein’s Theory of Relativity for his mum at the age of 15. He received a scholarship at King’s College, Cambridge and it is to that august university that we turn to learn more about Alan Turing’s life. In his twenties he turned his attention to one of the most important mathematical problems of the twentieth century – the Decision Problem. He conceived of a machine which would read symbols on a strip of tape – 0s and 1s and showed that dark areas in mathematics would always pose a barrier to the complete truth. This machine model became one of the cornerstones of computer science. He did this when he was only 22.

He then went on to his code breaking work, for which he is rightly famous. Here, Dr James Grime, Enigma Project Officer at Cambridge University's Millennium Mathematics Project explains the code and tells the life story of this remarkable man born 100 years ago today. It concludes with his death on 7 June1954 – betrayed by the British Government and with only a single escape route – suicide – Turing bit from an apple he had previously laced with cyanide. This tragic end to a brilliant life was thirty years before most of his work would become public; the Official Secrets Act meant his true brilliance was not to be acknowledged until many years after his death.

Today, however, we can lift a glass to this most brilliant of men, celebrate his life and his achievements and perhaps speak softly an apology for the sins of our fathers.

7 June 2014

Slothfulness


For one young sloth his dream of flying may always remain simply that, especially when an older, bigger sloth keeps bringing him down to earth.  Yet one can always hope for a eureka moment…

This engaging animated short was created by John McGowan as his thesis project at UMass Dartmouth (he graduated May 2012).

London


This video is a time lapse of London shot by Joe Gallon and produced by Louis Theodossiou to bring out the beautiful colors found around London at day and at night. Isla Day reads the lovely poem created by Emma Bennallick for this project. Isla's innocent voice gives extreme contrast to how the poem usually reads and to how London is usually perceived, which creates a whole new way of looking at London.

Lichen


What is the chemistry that makes two people connect?  This rather lovely short film explores the idea that through chance and coincidence, infinitely small decisions can produce new life.  Through four vignettes we see a couple meet, fall in love, have children and.. well, it’s up to you to watch this.  Boy meets  girl this surely is, but with plenty of food for thought along the way.Lichen was directed by Kevin Lim of Honey Soda Films.

1914 - 2014: One Hundred Years Time Lapse


Not the usual time lapse that we have on Kuriositas which normally cover a day or two at most This one, by Stijn Bollaert show the Belgian city of Antwerp in 1914 followed by images of exactly the same places from this year.  It just goes to show how much (or conversely how little) some places change in a hundred years.  It also demonstrates, I think, just how resilient a species we are that we can recover from so much devastation.

My White Trash Family: The Art of Kim Alsbrooks

When artist Kim Alsbrooks lived in North Carolina she was struck by class dogma that she would come across, something which one might think had disappeared a number of decades ago.  Yet subjective history, myth and sentimentality are a powerful mix. This triggered in her something of a fascinating idea.

6 June 2014

Would You Give Your Telephone Number to a Complete Stranger?


This is a very interesting idea and one which might touch a nerve with you.  Can a number of actors, armed only with information gleaned from the internet, convince five complete strangers that they are good friends?

The answer as you will see from the video above is a yes and shows that if you can convince five people (to whom you are or at least should be completely unfamiliar) that you know each other well, that the next step could quite easily be stealing their identities from them.

The People’s ID Bot Project from Experian set out to raise awareness online about just how our relaxed approach to the information that we post on the internet might make us more susceptible than we might think to identity fraud.

Could it be that a particular British tendency to be civil to strangers makes them a little more vulnerable to being conned? Perhaps – some Brits are so polite that they might even let people get away with something like this, just to maintain their politeness.

If you want to see how you are at risk of identity fraud, pop over to Experian's Identity Project and join others fighting identity fraud.

You can also get lots of tips about how to better manage your personal information online by going to the The People’s ID Bot Project  Facebook page. There are some great tips there such as 5 things you should do to keep safe online (which has a great accompanying infographic), but probably don’t.  It also keeps you bang up to date with the latest malware threats and security breaches at famous websites.

The folks at the The People’s ID Bot Project envisage a future where everyone in Britain will have their own ID bot, a super-smart way of protecting their identities and staying safe online which will alert them at once if they are at risk of fraud.  I for one can’t wait for that day to come – let us know what you think about these issues.
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