26 January 2015

Twenty Wonderful Words Which Shouldn’t be Allowed to Wither

There are many words these days that are rarely used – and that is a great shame as even the simple act of their enunciation can bring on a smile, such is their irrefragable brilliance.

Go on, drop a few in to your next conversation and ensure their preservation.  You are guaranteed to be the cynosure of attention and contesseration will be guaranteed.

In other words you will be the life and soul of the party and make many friends.

Nutation
This could also be known as nodding dog syndrome – and quite often it happens at work.  Do you have a colleague who – in their keenness to show that they understand and agree with you – nod their heads for so long and so consistently that you become afraid that it will fall off?  Then they are demonstrating nutation.

Agastopia
Do you like or admire a particular part of someone’s body – or for that matter that special place on bodies in general?  Then that means that you are agastopic.  Perhaps you can be relieved in one way – at least you have an alternative word to fetish at long last.

Originality


This is a short piece that explores the concept of originality by Vucko. This piece achieves this by combining influential quotes from the world’s most creative minds over the past five decades (Pablo Picasso, Jim Jarmusch, Woodrow, Wilson, Lincoln Steffens, Dieter Rams, Jean Luc Godard and others) to create a single narrative that defines what it means to be original. Enjoy!

Sana'a: The Melody of our Alienation


Sana’a the capital of Yemen has always been on my bucket list: in fact I have had a fascination for the whole country since I discovered its amazing architecture.  Yet Yemen is a country in flux, its future uncertain.  This elegeic  piece by Abdurahman Hussain send us a reminder that no matter how strange the city feels, people are not strangers in their own city. This is their city. This is where they belong. This is where they will make a difference as agents of peace.

Here are Some Hats from A to Z


I love hats and it’s distressing to see that (certainly in Europe and the US) their once proud ubiquity not to mention diversity has been diminished to such an extent that the one you see most of all is associated with a certain sport involving bats (and worn by those who have for the most part never played it).  To remind us of the proud heritage and legacy of this most noble covering for the head, here is an alphabet of hats by animator Joe presser.

18 January 2015

The Radome - Amazing Hi-Tech Radar Umbrella

Brittany, France - Image Credit Flickr User Schoeband
They look as if they might be home to families of extra-terrestrials recently arrived on earth from some sort of galactic cataclysm – and they are everywhere and increasing in number. Yet there is no need to call in the air force just yet if you spot one of these on your travels. Your average radome may look like it is from a science fiction novel but its real purpose is much more down to earth: it is a kind of umbrella.

Teufelsberg, Germany - Image Credit Flickr User Snapsi

Sunday Short Movie: Beyond Memories


Sophie believes that the only way to move on with her life is to forget about a past relationship. In desperation, she disposes of the last symbol of their love but quickly discovers that as the memories begin to fade, her desire to preserve them only grows stronger.  Written and directed by Cristina Molino, Beyond Memories stars Jolene Anderson and Colin Branca.  It looks gorgeous and tells a simple but fascinating tale.

The Biology of Risk Taking: Why Do Teenage Boys Put Themselves in Danger?


If you have ever wondered why teenage boys act so, well, stupidly, then this should give you an insight.  Created by Stefane Lefort for an exhibition about risk in La Cité des Sciences et de l'industrie de Paris, it follows young Maxine who is enjoying a day out at the pool but wants to impress some girls. Should he leap off the top of the diving platform or retreat back to his friends, tail between his legs?

The biological processes around risk are set in motion, starting in his brain.  Will the fight or flight impulse kick in and advise on discretion being the better part of valor or will Maxine jump? As he is a teenager you can guess what happens but this is a fascinating insight in to how, in so many ways, as a teenager he just can’t help himself.

Petit Paris


Sean Collins lived in Paris as a young man and returned there last year to make this amazing tilt-shift video. With the help of his girlfriend he filmed this from the Eiffel Tower, Tour Montparnasse, Notre Dame and Arc De Triumph.

You can’t say that many women will help their man compose a love letter, even if it is to a city but the result here is a beautiful, elegiac paean to Paris. Collins heads Bodhi Films, (Sanskrit for enlightenment) a film production company dedicated to creating enlightening works of art through motion picture.

Followers


A man escapes from prison at the same time as a boy runs away from school.  Their paths are destined to meet in a type of synchronicity which might just save the boy’s life in any number of ways.

Written and directed by Gints Zilbalodis, this enigmatic animated short shows that the possibility for personal redemption can, like love, appear when you are least expecting it.

17 January 2015

Urbex – The Art of Urban Exploration

Most of us now live in towns and cities and you might assume that these areas are fully mapped out and known to all. However, some places become unseen or out of bounds and, left to their own devices, become almost geographical blind spots. Join us as some of these off-limits areas are infiltrated – with some startling photographic results.

13 January 2015

The Forgotten Space Below Dupont Circle

What lies below Washington DC's Dupont Circle? Something forgotten about for years but incredibly interesting.  PBS Digital Studios takes us on a tour of the amazing 75,000 square feet of abandoned tunnels that have remained inaccessible for most of the last 50 years.  As well as some fantastic footage of this abandoned trolley tunnel and its stations there is an interesting insight in to what this amazing space might become.

Why Children Need to Keep Quiet on Trains


If you know a child who persists in showing you up when traveling on trains then show them this immediately.  It is something of a tall tale, created by Kilogramme is an animation company based in Manchester, England.  However, once you have plonked the errant infant down in front of this joyous animated short they shouldn’t bother you again – at least when on a series of connected railway carriages or wagons moved by a locomotive. Hurrah!

The Secret History of the Banana


I knew a little about the dark side of the banana but Bananas, Sardines and Sharks tells a remarkable true story of a Cold War coup and warns us that no matter how cheap and convenient our stuff is, there is always a price to pay.

It was created by Delve, a channel presenting regular video essays of knowledge and thought provoking ideas.

Together: A Story of Paris, Nazis, Jews and Muslims, based on True Events


When one considers what happened in Paris last week it is perhaps an opportune time to show this short film which is based on true events.  Together (Ensemble in French and directed by Mohamed Fekrane) is set in 1942 at the height of the Nazi occupation of France.

The round-ups of Jewish people has begun but one small child, Isaac, escapes them.  He seeks refuge in a place which, over sixty years later, might make one incredulous – the Paris Mosque.

There he comes under the protection of Si Kaddour Benghabrit, the Imam of the mosque, together with a number of other children.  Faced with a terrible predicament, the Imam and his community must choose between giving up the children to certain death or risking their own lives: the Nazis are hot on the trail of the missing children.

It has been estimated that Kaddour Benghabrit and his brethren saved between 600 and 1500 Jewish lives.  This, surely, and not the atrocities committed in Paris last week, shows the embodiment of Islam in its truest form.

11 January 2015

Watch What Happens When a Four-Year-Old Tries Siri


Sometimes Siri just doesn’t understand… especially if you are four years old.  Over the last few years artist Tyler Jordan and his partner have been in hysterics over what the intelligent personal assistant and knowledge navigator has made of their son Hazen’s requests for information.

Hazen's requests are exactly what you might expect a four year old to ask (Star Wars, Lego and so on) but, bless her, most of the time Siri just doesn’t get it!  Yet Hazen doesn't give up - he tries numerous requests much to Siri's bewilderment.

It's perhaps a good job that Hazen didn't ask Siri to look up himself because she might just confuse his name with hazing and that would simply open up another can of worms altogether... Moral of the story, anyone?  Yes, exactly, but this is great fun anyway.

Paris Unity Rally in Pictures: Millions Come Together in Solidarity

For a day, Paris became the capital of the world when 1.6 million People converged on the streets of the French capital.  Just a few days after the country suffered one its worst terrorist attacks the country responded with the biggest demonstration in its history, larger even than those which marked the Liberation of Paris in 1945. Across France up to four million people participated in events to demonstrate unity after the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo offices and a kosher supermarket which killed 17 people.

Here are a selection of pictures from the rally which show the staggering amount of people who wished to show to the world that they were still in harmony, that the ideals of liberté, égalité and fraternité are still very much intact.  More than 40 leaders from around the world also participated yet today was very much a day of the people, by the people and for the people. May their ideals persevere, flourish and grow stronger forevermore. As Je Suis Charlie still echoes through the streets of Paris and proliferates around the world, so it is hoped, will peace.

120 Years Watching Movies Together


On December 28 1885 the Lumiere Brothers performed for their first paying audience at the Grand Cafe in Boulevard des Capucines, marking the debut of cinema as we know it.  So why not celebrate 120 years of watching movies together?  Here is a wonderful montage created by Tandem Entertainment which goes through the entire history of cinema through the perspective of cinema audiences which appeared in movies.  Surely some sort of paradox there?

10 January 2015

Reach


When you live on a desert planet, life can be harsh. In fact, this little alien carries around his cup just in case he comes across one of his world’s rare clouds. The only problem is that when he does find one it moves – but not like the clouds that we know! This lovely animation which shows how an act of selflessness can resonate was created by Ahmed Elmatarawi, an animator based in Cairo.

Iguazu Falls – Big Water of the Borders

In the local Tupi language, the word means big water.  One look at the staggering Iguazu Falls, located on the border of the Brazilian State of Paraná and the Argentine Province of Misiones and you realise that this is no exaggeration.

Batman Evolution


Take music which spans over fifty years of superhero history, throw in a piano and over 100 tracks of cello not to mention three legendary cars and what do you get? Something like Batman Evolution, by The Piano Guys who started making music videos together for fun and now make an awful lot of people happy.  The Utah-based classical-pop group has surpassed itself with this.  Sit back and revel, people!

Dust Dance


Sometimes you just have to dance. Shot by Basti Hansen deep in the Israeli Desert, at the Dead Sea and in Tel Aviv-Yafo with dancer Mor Datner, Dust Dance evokes the joy of spontaneous movement with some stunning backdrops.

There is fire, piercings and even a hula hoop thrown in there for good measure – I hope you find this as entrancing as I did!

What Not to Eat Before the First Date


One of the rules of a successful first date is don’t eat curry or garlic or, especially, herring beforehand.  However, there always has to be one who ignores the rule and this young man discovers that his fishy breath destroys everything in its path as he makes his way to meet his young lady.

Created in collaboration by Klomp with the Netherlands Film Fund, SNS Reaal and Pathé this screened in front of Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy in all Dutch Pathé cinemas. The Dutch have all the fun, it seems!

4 January 2015

The Fire Rainbow: Beautiful and Rare Circumhorizontal Arc

If you are very lucky you may see a fire rainbow once or twice in your life. It sounds almost as if it could be the title of one of a series of children’s books – Harry Potter and the Fire Rainbow has a certain ring to it: but this phenomenon is not fiction. If you are in the right place and at the right time then a fire rainbow is something that you will remember.

To name it properly, a fire rainbow is a circumhorizontal arc. It is also known as a circumhorizon arc but whichever you chose, scientists (and aficionados) call it a CHA. It is given its name because it looks as if a rainbow has spontaneously combusted as it made its way across the sky. One might even suspect that some malign fairy or goblin has blown the rainbow up to stop some errant human discovering that elusive pot of gold at its end...

The Eerie Abandoned Silos of Washington, DC


The McMillan Sand Filtration Site is one of Washington DC's most conspicuous mysteries: a fenced-off 25-acre grassy plain just over 2 miles north of Capitol Hill, marked by rows of tall concrete cylinders clothed in overgrown ferns. Unbeknownst to the thousands of commuters and residents that pass by its rusted gates daily, below this sprawling parcel of land lies a series of vast underground caverns built in the early 20th century by the Army Corps of Engineers as a natural purification facility for DC's water supply.

Sealed to the public at the onset of World War II, the park above the filtration cells has been inaccessible ever since. Now, almost 30 years since its official closure, the site - a curious holdout among DC's recent wave of rapid urban development - has become the subject of a widespread debate over its future use.

Journey Inside a Coffee Roaster Machine


You may think that there are few places that no one has been before (or in this case, a camera).  Yet this is the first time (to anyone’s knowledge) that a camera has been put in to a coffee roaster machine.

This is freshly roasted coffee as you have never seen it before. Created by Kavekalmar, it is quite astonishing what our coffee goes through before it goes through us…

Sunday Short Movie: The Ticket


There are so many things that we think of only after something is over.  Here a pair of star-crossed lovers take advantage of an opportunity to steal a magical moment together (not to mention their wedding outfits).  Yet in this short written and directed by Po Chan and starring Mark Hapka (who you might remember from The Ghost Whisperer and/or Days of Our Lives) and Hilary Anderson (from Harold and Kumar) nothing is quite as it seems.

Love Recipe


As much as there is an art of war there is one for love too.  Here, a couple get ready for their romantic encounter – both in their own inimitable way.  However, they both have their own particular and very individual recipe with which they hope to further enamor their partner.

This charming and funny animated short was made by a group of students at Supinfocom in France.

2 January 2015

Young Faces of the American Civil War

Somehow we expect their faces to be different, not so staggeringly modern looking.  Place them in contemporary clothing and all of these young men would not look out of place in a mall or a high school yearbook. Yet these extraordinary ambrotype and tintype photographs were taken during the American Civil War (1861-1865). Almost 150 years separates their lives from our own yet their youthful faces retain a powerful resonance and an immediacy which brings that dreadful conflict in to our imagination.

Who were these young men? What sort of lives did they live during and (one hopes) after the Civil War? The names of many of the young men pictured here are unknown, their fates a mystery. Yet despite the century and a half gap between their careful posing for the camera, some can still be identified. Astonishingly, names can still be discovered, as well as insight in to their character and personality.

Appearance and Reality


Often the impression we try to give in public is just the opposite of what we actually feel like inside.  This difference between appearance and reality is perfectly captured here by animators Zhenia Pavlenko and Elena Rogova.

I loved, too, the juxtaposition between the adults in this vide and the little boy and the dog.  What innocence affords…

FACTORY293


The Second World War is raging and in the blizzard struck hinterlands of the USSR Factory 293 is in trouble.  An inspection is due and the power has just gone out but that is just the start of the day’s difficulties for war-hero Grigori and his female workforce.

Written and directed by Roderick Mackay for Meaning Maker and Digital Media Arts, you may not believe this but FACTORY293 was filmed entirely in the much sunnier climes of Perth, Western Australia.  Yet although this is surprising in itself the strength of the film lies in its direction and the wonderful performances of the actors, particularly its stand-out leads Lizzie Schebesta and Myles Pollard.

Kumbh Mela: The Greatest Gathering or People on the Planet


Kumbh Mela is a Hindu pilgrimage which attracts, each year, the greatest peaceful get together of people in the world.  The  Maha Kumbh Mela of 2013 saw over 100 million people gather to bathe at dawn in the sacred Ganges River.

Time-lapse Photography and Adventure Filmmaker Rufus Blackwell was there and captured these astounding time-lapse images.

1 January 2015

Frost Flowers: Nature’s Exquisite Ice Extrusion

It is as beautiful as it is rare.  A frost flower is created on autumn or early winter mornings when ice in extremely thin layers is pushed out from the stems of plants or occasionally wood. This extrusion creates wonderful patterns which curl and fold into gorgeous frozen petioles giving this phenomenon both its name and its appearance.

Conditions have to be just so for frost flowers to form.  Early winter and late autumn are the optimum time to come across them as although the weather conditions must be freezing it is vital that the ground is not.

Happy New Year 2015


When I was a kid my very ancient next door neighbor used to come and watch TV with us. Invariably, when a show ended, he would look at my mother and say (with a bit of a twinkle in his eye) "what was that all about, dear?" I feel a bit like that when it comes to 2014..!

However, that year has now passed so I would like to wish you all a wonderful and happy new year from Kuriositas.  May 2015 bring all that you want!  It’s also the Year of the Sheep in the Chinese calendar and I thought this animation by Kobayashi Daisuke suited Kuriositas down to the ground!  So, out with the old and in with the new – Happy New Year!

Amung Feedjit
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