28 August 2017

The Lanterns of the Dead

At some point in the early part of the 12th century, people in the center and west of France began to erect strange constructions – effectively hollow towers with a hole for a lantern at the top - near or in their village graveyards (and before you ask, most were nowhere near the sea).  Although many were moved or destroyed during the revolution, about a hundred survive to this day.  Known as Lanterns of the Dead (Lanternes des Morts) their precise original use is still debated.  However, there are a number of theories surrounding these unusual and enigmatic constructions.

Fenioux - Images

27 August 2017

The Art of the Japanese Manhole

The Japanese have a wonderful relationship with their manhole covers: they treat them as art.  Here is a selection of the ornate, the artistic and the slightly bizarre.

Why Do Some Male Orangutans Have a Flange While Others Do Not?

It might not have been keeping you awake at night but here’s a question.  Why do some male orangutans have a flange – that big flap of skin around their faces – while others don’t? The answer is we probably know the why but only possibly the howThe Ark in Space has the story, and yes – it is all about the passing on of genes but there's more.  Even if you have a flange, as an orangutan you still would not be out of the woods (which, if they could speak, would probably not be the idiom they would use as generally, they seem to like being in the woods…).

Image Credit LK-GA

Dance For Your Life, Puny Human


At least we now know what has happened to all of those people abducted by aliens over the years. They are taken to participate in a particularly lethal competition against a dancebot which just seems to win, whoever is put up against him.  For this particularly unballetic human specimen, things are not looking good in this animated short directed by Justin Connolly who should be snapped up by Aardman (or the likes) immediately.

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


Photographer and filmmaker Kirill Neiezhmakov has excelled himself this time.  Visiting Portugal in May 2014 he took in Lisbon and Sesimbra, creating this amazing combination of time-lapse and hyperlapse, with a little tilt shift thrown in for good measure.  The merge from one place to another is seamless (how does he do that?) as is the transition from terra firma to water.  An outstanding piece of film.

The Wife of Bath's Tale


It is always a surprise for students new to Chaucer just how filthy he was.  Some of the images he put down on paper were truly eye-watering in their general dirtiness.  It’s always odd how that even though we know the history of the time, a lot of which was unpleasant to say the least, we somehow expect the literature to be squeaky clean, the product of a more innocent age.

If Chaucer is certainly not one thing, then it’s innocent.  The Wife of Bath’s tale is full of political incorrectness – so much so that a lot of feminist literature has been written about it - both for and against. The Wife of Bath embodies antifeminist beliefs in some ways but in others she resists them – a contradiction which has made her character so interesting for so long.  So here is her story, one of a knight, but not the kind that you get in Hollywood movies.  Having committed a heinous crime he is sent out in to the world by Queen Guinevere to discover what it is that women truly desire.  See if you agree with what he discovers.

This animated version of the Wife of Bath’s Tale was made by Beryl Productions International in 1999 and was nominated for a huge amount of awards, including an Academy Award.  It won the Emmy and the British BAFTA for Best Animated Film.

Plus, if you are in need of some reading material at the moment, give the tale a go.  Better still, read the Wife of Bath’s Prologue where she recounts her life and her times with her five (yes, five) husbands - and how she got her own way with them.  Chaucer may have put his pen to paper over six hundred years ago, but Allison remains my favorite of his pilgrims and she is a character who has fascinated and reviled readers for centuries.

20 August 2017

10 Amazing Recently Discovered Facts about Spiders

Spider threesome anybody? This is just one of the strange (and possibly disturbing) recently discovered facts about spiders you can read about on our sibling site, Ark in Space.  Yes, one species of spider does engage in the occasional ménage a trois but the reason why neither of the boys loses out might make you go ‘ew’. As a number of facts are about the wild thing, if you are of a sensitive nature you may wish to look away!

19 August 2017

The Strange History of the Sunflower

You may not think that there is much to know about the sunflower. After all, the plant is virtually everywhere. Yet it has something more than a simple, straightforward history and is more of a globe trotter than you may imagine.

Its story has the historical and continental sweep of a Hollywood epic, from the pre-European Americas to Tsarist Russia and back again. Here is the tale of the peripatetic sunflower, accompanied by some stunning photography.

18 August 2017

The Lottery – From Novelty to Tradition to Media Frenzy

In the very beginning, the lottery was something unheard of for modern society. Getting the chance to win enormous prizes for a minute contribution to the prize pool was a novelty of epic proportions. In addition, the social aspect of the lottery draws was something worthy of praise and attention.

The game drew people together and it created a great deal of excitement. Having tickets in the lottery meant being part of this new movement, so everybody who mattered had to have one. As for the lottery draws, these were regarded as glamorous events.

Extinguished


Imagine if we lived in a world where, when we took shine to someone, a flame would light up in a chest cavity.  It might lead to some awkward situations or, conversely, it might also make things a lot easier for those of us with a shyer disposition.  Our hero in this story falls in to the latter category but he doesn’t seem to be having much luck (at least to begin with) in this lovely animated short by Jacob Mann and Ashley Anderson, who created this at Ringling College.

The Greatest Cats In Movies. Ever.


As the internet seems, largely, to have been created to accommodate pictures and videos of cats it seems only fair that Kuriositas gets in on the act.  This video by Burger Fiction features the greatest cats to have appeared on film – both live action and animated.  Think about it, cats in movies. People love movies and people love cats. So here they are together on the internet. What a purrrrrrfect combination, don't you think?

16 August 2017

Dignity: The Statue America Needs Right Now

Ask anyone to name a famous American statue and the chances are they will reply with the Statue of Liberty.  A symbol of global enlightenment representing the freedom to live a life unhampered by oppression there was and still is irony there for those peoples who did not fall in to the innate and historical Euro-centricity of Lady Liberty’s promise.  So perhaps a new monument in South Dakota will do something to redress this balance, at least in terms of statuary.

Image Credit
Dignity – for that is her name – stands on a bluff near the Missouri River, arms outstretched and holding a star-quilted blanket, offering shelter to one and all who might seek her protection.  She is 50-feet high and is made from stainless steel – supported by a huge steel rod in her interior to protect her from the high winds which often whistle across the plains.

15 August 2017

Sahara el Beyda: The White Desert of Egypt

The word sahara means desert in Arabic so when you hear the name Sahara el Beyda you could be forgiven that it means one thing – sand, sand and more sand.  Yet the sight of Egypt’s Sahara el Beyda belies the traditional way one imagines a desert.  Are those icebergs on the horizon?

14 August 2017

Bingewatchers Anonymous


Are you a bingewatcher? Do you promise to yourself that you will only watch one, perhaps two new episodes of your favorite TV drama when it goes online and then sit through the entire season? Then perhaps you need to enroll with Bingewatchers Anonymous, like Jeff, who has been advised by a friend to go along to one of their meetings.  Written and directed by Kody Cunningam, you might recognize yourself among this motley crew but how long before you – and they – fall off the wagon?

God-Mother


Although not necessary this is a perfect excuse to feature some Bulgarian folk music on Kuriositas.  I came across this wonderful, enigmatic animated short by Nina Paley today and as well as being entranced by her work I was further transported by the ethereal, other-worldly singing of the Bulgarian State Radio and Television Female Vocal Choir which I first came across in my 1980s university days.  The combination is simply… well, why don’t you watch it and put your own adjectives in place?

12 August 2017

The Pont du Gard Aqueduct Bridge – Masterpiece of Ancient Building

The question what have the Romans ever done for us? Was famously asked in the Monty Python film Life of Brian and certainly you might think that a few thousand years later that question is potentially redundant.  However, a one look at the Pont du Gard aqueduct bridge may put paid to that idea.

They certainly made things to last.  Although the Pont du Gard is no longer a functioning aqueduct bridge, the very fact that it isclose to two thousand years old and still standing is testament to the skills of its builders (although of course it has had renovations over time).  The fact that it has gone from being useful to simply decorative is neither here nor there.

Crystalapse: Frozen in Timelapse


Iceland never ceases to cause wonder and this beautiful footage, captured in March 2014 is no exception.  You will witness both the Northern lights and the phenomenon of the ice caves in their surreal beauty thanks to brothers Patrick and Henrick Shyu who make up Blue Eden.  Plus if you are something of a hopeless romantic then hang around till the end for something that may not make the ice melt, but almost certainly your heart.

11 August 2017

Based on True Events


There comes a time in any relationship when something akin to this occurs – and after that you could maintain that metaphorically at least, the honeymoon is over.  Written and directed by Gary Allen this speaks volumes without using any words.  It is almost a contemporary reading of the incredibly verbose The Lady's Dressing Room by Jonathan Swift. Centuries apart and using different media, the horror nevertheless remains the same.

Maiden Light - Fabric Dancing on the Edge


“In this project there are a few risks,” says Ashleigh, the aerial fabric dancer taking her performance into new territory in the Flatirons of Boulder, Colorado.  Here, follow the large team of riggers, rock-climbers, photographers, videographers (including produces Craig Muderlak and Tim Davis) as they help to realize Ashleigh’s ambition – to dance without a harness hundreds of meters above the ground. I just hope she told her mother about this afterwards.

intemporalité


Intemporalité is an experimental film made from a large number of photographs (technically its a Hyperlapse and timelapse combined).  The architecture of Paris is deliberately distorted by Didier Viodé but it retains its timelessness and beauty yet you will never have seen the French capital quite like this.  As another way to discover this amazing city it is quite something (even though I challenge anyone to become jaded with the real thing!).

10 August 2017

Writer's Block


If you have something to finish off, an essay, a letter, that novel - then if you don’t get it finished soon you may well end up on Writer’s Block.

Set in a prison for criminally poor writers, this animated short by Wonky Films follows a gang of cons who get a hold of the script to their own lives and attempt to re-write it in order to make their escape.

Snowtime


I am not even going to wonder how this is done, just bask in the beauty of it all.  If you are one of our regular readers then you will know that we like timelapses at Kuriositas.  However, this one is different – very different.  Vyacheslav Ivanov has captured the formation of snow crystals.

Again, I have no clue how it was done but thank you for doing it, Mr Ivanov.

Elefante


Manuel is stuck in a monotonous job, has only one friend that he cannot stand, and his family despises him. Everything will change when the doctor diagnoses him with a rare disease - Manuel is going to turn into an elephant.  Written and directed by Pablo Lurcuen this is a bitter-sweet tale of how sometimes simply being a man is not quite enough yet even in our darkest moments there is still the possibility of redemption,.

9 August 2017

A Rift Runs Through It: Iceland’s Divergence of the Plates

Thingvellir, Iceland: the landscape is wild and desolate but hauntingly beautiful.  Yet the serene magnificence of the surroundings belies an astonishing fact.  It is here as a result of massive, geological trauma.

Image Credit Flickr User Andrew Gibson
This is one of the few places above sea level where you can see with your own eyes what happens when two major tectonic plates drift away from each other.  In fact, Iceland owes its very existence to the tectonic processes which have played out along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge for millions of years.  It was born of the ridge, which runs right through it.

Danny Boy


What happens when the rest of the world loses its head? That question may seem rhetorically metaphorical but for Danny it is a real, literal quandary especially when love is beckoning, however blindly.  You will have to watch to discover how he resolves the situation in this superlatively crafted, enigmatic and multi-award winning animated short written and directed by Marek Skrobecki for Se-Ma-For Studios.

The Trogon: Beautiful Nibblers of the Forest

The Trogon – it sounds like a species of alien out of Star Trek or Doctor Who. However, this family of somewhat overlooked birds has its roots very firmly on planet Earth and the Ark in Space has a great photo feature on them today. These exquisite birds are well worth a look.

Part of the Trogonidae family contains six species which are considered the most beautiful – if not the most unusual – in the family. These are the Quetzals – you can see one in the picture above.Jump over to our sibling site, the Ark in Space, for a glimpse of ten of the 39 species of trogon.

Image Credit Flickr User Brettocop

8 August 2017

Moving Through Saint Petersburg


Take a whistlestop tour through the streets of St Petersburg. From 1732 to 1918 the city was the Imperial Capital of Russia and its many famous landmarks are testament to its history.  This timelapse was created by Geoff Tompkinson with an original soundtrack by with original music score by Vincent Jacq.

The video shows some of the best examples I have seen of hyperlapse techniques.  involves moving the camera while still shooting at a speed normally associated with time-lapse.  It’s a new technique and one that has been evolving recently - Tompkinson and his ilk are comfortably taking it to the next level with some huge, sweeping shots that make you wonder exactly how they were done.

Love in the Time of Advertising


An animated musical love story about a young man who lives inside a billboard and is charged with updating the advertisements. When he falls in love with a beautiful lady living across the highway, he has to use the only method he knows to get his message across - advertising.

Love in the Time of Advertising was co-written, co-directed by David and Matt Berenty

The Island Dwellers


I am not sure quite how to describe The Island Dwellers but I have to add right away that it had quite an impact on me.  It is a history, as it were, of three creative souls who are sustained and inspired by nature, represented here by the sun and her daily cycle through the heavens. Yet when life is so interdependent, what happens when change comes?

Written, directed and animated by Christina Moliterno, watch this significant piece of film-making right to the end or you will miss the final piece of the jigsaw. It's the kind of ooooh moment you got at the end of the original Planet of the Apes.  Watch it and you will see what I mean!

7 August 2017

One Man's Loss


Just when you think it can’t get any worse – it does. Yet for one down and out stepping on a piece of glass turns out to be the best thing that has happened to him for quite a while. Written and directed by Philip Sansom, One Man’s Loss stars Belgian actress Hande Kodja, Tracy Feith as the vagrant and Jeremy Mitchell as the city boy. So, if you are feeling a little down and out today, watch this – and take heart!

A Thousand Words


Sometimes a film can say in three minutes what others struggle to say in two hours. A Thousand Words is one of those: reminiscing over old photographs, a terminally ill husband and his wife struggle with taking what could be their last photograph together. Starring Michael Chwastiak and Alison Myers-Gomez., the touching and poignant A Thousand Words was written, directed and produced by Larica Perera.

6 August 2017

A Timelapse of Flowers


Here is something quite lovely.  The idea behind it is very simple – and it makes the end result all the more effective because of its minimalism.  The plan was to take six flowers, Amaryllis, Lilies, Zygocactus, Rose, Gladiolus and Gardenia and to make a film which captured their bloom.

Yes, the idea is simple enough but the execution is rather more complicated.  Altogether there are over 7,000 photos included in this marvellous timelapse, taking in more than 730 hours.  This was created by Katka Pruskova and – believe it or not – this is her very first timelapse.  Those who are older hands at this particular form of photographic art will tell you that it may look effortless but it is far from easy.  Thanks, Katka!

Underlapse


A word of warning before you watch this – the makers of this video (Claire&Max) have indicated that this video may make you dizzy.  Underlapse is a visual experience and shows how our brains can be lost without its spatial cues.  The idea of time-lapse turned upside down isn’t something I have come across before but this montage of places around the world (and off it) goes from simply a curiosity to quite dazzling in a few minutes.

The Frogs that Carry Their Tadpoles on Their Backs

You might not automatically put frogs on your list of good parents.  After all, they just seem to take to the water, spawn and leave.  Not these frogs, however. There are a number of species who go against this amphibious grain and look after their tadpoles with something approaching devotion (not that I want to anthropomorphize too much).  These species actually carry their tadpoles around on their backs.  Find out what they do this over at the Ark in Space today, replete with a great selection of photographs of tadpole carrying frogsters.

Image Credit Flickr User Pasha Kirillov

5 August 2017

Skull Rock: Is this the Best Super Villain Lair Ever?

Are you a super villain looking for a new lair? Then look no further. Take a look at Skull Rock, also known as Cleft Island. Situated off the coast of Wilsons Promontory in the state of Victoria it is at the southernmost point of the Australian mainland. It is beautiful, unspoiled and above all, peaceful.  From a distance you may not think it is anything to write home about – and that’s the beauty of it.  Your new hi-tech facility, where you can evolve your next fiendish plan without interruption, is hidden in plain sight. Plus it’s handy for the shops.

Agents of the various enemy states against which you plot may search for you but it will be in vain. The last place they will think of looking is this unremarkable and bare piece of rock protruding from the sea.  Yet if we examine the island a little closer, you will soon see that the place is quite possibly perfect for an irredeemable scoundrel such as yourself.

Bigger Than Life - Ice Caves


If you have woken up today with the desire to think up and do something that no one else has yet done then don’t bother with being the first person to film ice caves using a drone. A team from Firefight Films recently traveled to Alaska and did just that – producing these remarkable results. Directed by Lion El Aton with cinematography - by Christopher Carson, take a look while you rethink your plans for the day.

If you need any more time while pondering which world-first you will attempt after lunch then why not take a look at Kuriositas’ own feature on ice caves, from 2011.

4 August 2017

Mite


You may never look at a carpet the same way again after watching Mite, the new animated short from Walter Volbers.  We start in a hotel corridor and work our way down, down, down to the kingdom of the mite where everything in this tiny world becomes monstrous and huge.

However, in this realm beneath our feet, there are some things which remain the same... the dust gets everywhere!

Kiryoku


For his Senior Thesis at Ringling, Christopher Merlino created Kiryoku - a true motion design piece. The imagery tells a compelling story, while incorporating multiple forms of image-making approaches. The figure is treated live-action footage, while the environments, characters, and visual effects are created with 2D and 3D software. Entrancing.

The Grand Circle


The Grand Circle is a stunning, immense expanse of land located in the South-western United States. It encompasses parts of five states – Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Nevada. Not surprisingly it also holds the largest concentration of national parks and monuments in the country. It takes in Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Antelope Canyon, the Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Mesa Verde, Natural Bridges, Canyonlands, and Grand Staircase-Escalante.

If the description is attractive enough, wait to you see this mesmerizing piece of timelapse film by Blue Eden (collaborative project by Patrick Shyu and Henrick Shyu). Shot with the Nikon D800 and Sony a99 there were moments where I had to halt the film and play it back – and I still can’t quite fathom how they managed to capture the shots. Amazing.

3 August 2017

Lila


Hankies out. This is one of the most charming short films I have seen in a while and if this doesn’t bring a tear of joy to your eye then I am afraid nothing will! Lila is a young woman who helps people through her art, in a way you might not quite expect. At its heart I think Lila (written, animated and directed by Carlos Lascano) is a single extended visual metaphor about how individuals can help others through small acts of kindness. Hankies at the ready? Then press play…
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