29 October 2017

The Devil in the Cathedral: the Lucifer of Liège

Cathédrale Saint-Paul (Liège 2017)
The Cathedral of Saint Paul in the Belgian city of Liège was founded in the tenth century.  As one might expect from a Catholic place of worship it is full of representations of the men and women from the history – Biblical and otherwise – of Christianity.  Yet as the pulpit is approached, a striking white marble sculpture arrests the eye: a beautiful young man in an agony of thought. Which venerable icon of the church might this be?  A martyr? A disciple? Or even an angel? It is the latter but this angel is notorious, despised, fallen. It transpires that there is a sinner – and a significant one at that - in the midst of the saints.

The Lucifer of Liège

28 October 2017

Amazing Aerial Tramways of the World

Highest
Let’s start with the highest. To do that we must go to Venezuela and the Cableway of Merida. This is a system of four aerial tramways that connect the city of Merida with Tip Mirror. The tramway itself goes from 1640 meters to 4765 meters and that makes it both the highest and longest tourist aerial tramway in the world. The views from the cabins are almost like being in a plane.

Strange how most people do not mind being enclosed in what, according to physics, is not much more than a navigated catapult – that is a passenger plane. However, a good percentage of those who will blithely escape to the sun in a 747 will not step on to an aerial tramway, suspended at most a few hundred meters above the ground, for fear of their lives. However, even though aviation is much safer than many other forms of transport, being a passenger in an aerial tramway is, in turn, safer than being taking a flight in a plane.

27 October 2017

Mont Saint-Michel as Seen by a Drone is Amazing


More than 3 million people visit Mont Saint-Michel each year yet none have seen it quite like this.  The island in Normandy, France is famous for the magnificent abbey which overlooks the town below.  It’s a stunning sight but this video by Freeway Productions goes one step further.  Using a NHK Tokyo drone their team captured Mont Saint-Michel in a way that has never been done before.  You even get close up and personal with the golden statue of Saint Michel at the very top of the abbey’s spire.  Simply amazing.

Beyond


Here’s something that is visually stunning but so open to interpretation you can make of what you will (and I love it when storytelling is clever enough – or perhaps vague enough – to allow for that).  This is a self-initiated project by EGYD Studio.  The visuals are amazing and I have to add that my speakers had a lot of fun with the sound design too.  Altogether, Beyond is something to watch with the lights off and the sound up!

The Laws of Symmetry Explained


Symmetry is vital to understanding and predicting how our universe works. The relationship between symmetry and the mechanics of the universe is fundamental to physics. From Noether’s theorem to the new and exciting world of local symmetries being revealed by modern day physics, Tara Shears explores the physics of symmetry. This animation was produced by Rosanna Wan, part of the 2016-17 animator-in-residence programme at the Royal Instutition, supported by the Sfumato Foundation.

26 October 2017

The Most Unique Casinos in the World


Casinos with a unique design catch the eye

With over 4,000 registered casinos across the world aiming to offer their patrons the ultimate gambling experience, luxury is the main attraction for many visitors. However, it's often the most unique establishments that stand out from the crowd, rather than the most opulent. There are a few casinos off the beaten track that allow gambling fans to experience something completely different to the usual look and feel of slot games, roulette wheels and poker tables. Casinos are constantly becoming more quirky, inventive and ultimately different to try and create a unique selling point for new customers, one of the key attractions is often the design and layout.

25 October 2017

Moon Hill: The Hill with a Hole Through It

The Chinese province of Guangxi, on the border of Vietnam, is renowned throughout the world for the beauty of its karst landscapes.  One of the more unusual features the province has to offer is Moon Hill.  It has a large semi-circular hole which goes right through it.

As such it struck the imagination of those who first came across it and it has been forever known as Moon Hill.

24 October 2017

If You Have Never Wanted to Visit the Dolomites, You Will After You Watch This


The Dolomites are one of those places that once seen are never forgotten.   Located in northeastern Italy, they form a part of the Southern Limestone Alps and they were recently visited by filmmaker Michael Shainblum.  The aerial shots are by shot by Andrew Studer.  Together these very talented men perfectly capture the changing weather conditions around these most mystical, enigmatic of mountains.

Sweet Sugar Candyman


Paris, 1900 – but not quite as we remember it from the black and white photos!  It is a world brimming with color and populated by candy people.  However, their sweet life is interrupted when a crazy anarcho-gumdrop disturbs the peace. His new goal: destroy the Eiffel Tower.  This wonderful animated short was created by Camille Haumont, Michaël Mac, Audrey Mille and Julie Vanandrewelt during their studies at Supinfocom Rubika.

Masterpiece


You might well understand this if you have a friend who is an artist.  In this short film by DessyMak Productions, the artist in question invites his non-artist friends for a sneak preview of the project he has completed for his university master’s degree.  It isn’t quite what they expect and they try to find ways to interpret the masterpiece they see before them.  This short movie is as much about the nature of friendship than that of modern art and has a low-key charm all of its own.  Masterpiece was written and directed by Runyararo Mapfumo.

15 October 2017

Haw Par Villa – Unusual Singapore Theme Park

In 1937 two brothers from Singapore had a dream – they wanted to help people to learn, remember and pass on traditional Chinese values as expressed through myth, legend and the tenets of Confucianism.  They already had a small venue – the Tiger Balm - but wanted to broaden the appeal to a wider audience.  So was born the idea of extending the place to incorporate a garden in which Chinese legends would come to life.

Let the monkey warn you, however.  If you are of a nervous disposition, perhaps it is time to consider whether you wish to continue on this particular journey.

If You Have Never Wanted to Visit Northwestern China, You Will After You Watch This


Gansu Province is located in the northwestern China. To the west of Lanzhou and west of the Yellow River is the famous "Hexi Corridor," an important strategic passage on the ancient Silk Road stretching to the west. This area abounds in rich historical and cultural heritage, including grottoes, ancient buildings and other cultural relics.  This amazing film was made by Luciano Bosticco.

The Disappearance of Willie Bingham


You could say that this is Kuriositas’ offering for Halloween as it certainly has the horror quotient but very cleverly done (even though if you are squeamish at all you will wince on any number of occasions).  Prisoner Willie Bingham has committed a terrible crime and the authorities decide to use him as a pilot for a particularly gruesome kind of punishment.  Written and directed by Matt Richards, this will have you on the edge of your seat.  Scalpels out!

Fox and the Whale


A inquisitive fox goes in search of a mysterious, elusive whale in this enigmatic animated short, directed and produced by Robin Joseph.  If you are fond of your metaphors then you will find any number of them within this curiosity.  Frankly I am not quite sure what to make of it but I do know this – it’s gorgeously made and leaves an impression.  I’m in particular awe of the backgrounds – just exquisite.

11 October 2017

The Deadly Dewdrops of the Drosera

Look closely, but be wary of touching.  Those beautiful glistening drops of dew at the end of the plants you can see in these photographs are not quite what they seem.  In fact, rather than being dew, that jewel of the earth, these gleaming globules are in fact mucilage. Muci-what?

This Way Up


Laying the dead to rest has never been so much trouble. This Oscar Nominated short is directed by Smith & Foulkes and written by Foulkes, Smith, and Christopher O’Reilly, and produced at Nexus by Charlotte Bavasso and Christopher O’Reilly, the film follows two dour unfortunates as they battle a series of misadventures while trying to deliver a coffin to the graveyard.

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


London has always been a city dominated by its river, so it is great to see that the Thames featured in this exemplary time-lapse and hyperlapse by Bordetcky and Svetlana Abrashova of BeHere Too.  The city has never looked so beautiful and as well as the places you would expect to see in such a film – Big Ben and Parliament, Buckingham Palace and Tower Bridge, there are some of the lesser-seen sights of London too. Wonderful.

Watch the Big Bang but Don’t Know the Theory? Take a Look at This…


…because it may just clear up a few things for you about the original Big Bang Theory.  Where Sheldon might blind you with science, this animation, designed by Mike Luzzi and directed by Dan and Jason at Hornet Inc will make it simple. Well, simpler because even at its most basic it is quite a lot to take in – at least in one viewing.  However, as Einstein said: If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.

7 October 2017

Tightrope Walking – The Great Mid-Air Gamble

Did you know that the proper term for tightrope walking is funambulism? The first syllable says it all really – fun – but perhaps only for those who participate in this dangerous activity. It is definitely a gamble walking the tightrope. however choosing a casino to play at doesn't have to be if you read about the top online casino uk options from a trusted review website. However, as you can see from many of these photos, those who take that gamble and walk across the wide open spaces on only a rope seem to enjoy the experience very much.

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Of course, that leaves the rest of us on the ground looking up, emotions a strange mix of awe and dread, as these brave souls traverse the distance from one point of safety to another.  People have been doing this for thousands of years – in fact the term funambulism is Latin in its roots.  However, it was never considered enough of a sport to be considered as an Olympic event – neither in the way back when or in modern times (which is something of a shame, don’t you think?).

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There have also been periods in history when rope-walkers were actively discriminated against.  In Post-Roman France they were forbidden to tightrope in the vicinity of churches.  This doesn’t seem much of a loss until you realise that traveling fairgrounds always pitched up as near to the largest building in a town or village as possible and this was almost inevitably the local church.  So, this was effectively a ban on the activity.

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However, there were times in history when tightrope walkers received the acclaim that they deserved and often became famous.  There were rope walkers at the coronations of many European monarchs including one at the investiture of Queen Isabeau of France in 1389.  This particular rope walker went from the spires of the cathedral to the tallest house in the city.  One can only imagine what was going through his mind as he traversed his dizzying route – what sort of bad omen would it have been, in the minds of the medieval onlookers, had he fallen?

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Yet tightrope walkers persevered and there was even a tradition at the Venice Carnival for an acrobat to walk between Saint Mark’s bell tower and the Piazza.  Yet it wasn’t long before they were once again associated with a criminal element and in the England of the 1700s they were looked upon with some suspicion (although it has to be said that most of those involved in the performing arts were considered immoral by the very choice of their profession).

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Swings and roundabouts – by the 19th and 20th centuries the reputation of tightrope walkers was once again untainted and they were able to pursue fame in their own inimitable if breath-taking way.   They would often appear in casinos, walking the rope high above the gamblers below – one can only wonder if there was any irony intended…

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Entire families would emerge as tightrope stars, including the Wallandas (above) who continue to this very day – in to the seventh generation of tightrope walkers.  Although this intergenerational gambling with the lives of an entire family might seem to be risk-taking taken to a ridiculous degree, the fact that they have persevered through seven generations says an awful lot about their natural or even innate skills.  As you can see from these pictures, bravery can often be associated with a sense of fun and perhaps therein lies the secret of the tightrope walker.  They really do keep the fun in funambulism!

First Image Credit

5 October 2017

Radiation Therapy Explained for Kids


Radiation therapy is a frightening enough prospect for anyone but for kids it can be particularly daunting. Trunk Animation have created this lovely animation for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation as part of their Imaginary Friends Society project (over 20 shorts created to explain scary medical issues to children).  I am quite sure that this, as well as the other films, will be much appreciated not only by the young uns but adults too.  Bravo.

1 October 2017

The Story of Martin Luther


He has had to wait about 500 years, but finally Martin Luther gets his own animated short!  Produced by Tumblehead Animation Studio, this tells how Luther questioned the way that the established church did things and before long created a schism which had both immediate and long-lasting repercussions for not just Europe but the world in general.  As this is ‘completely and utterly accurate’ let this be your history lesson for the day!

Africa’s Unique Volcano: Ol Doinyo Lengai

For countless generations, the Maasai people of Tanzania have called the active volcano which dominates their landscape Ol Doinyo Lengai. The name translates as the Mountain of God.  Yet on the day Eng’ai, one of the gods of the Maasai, created this volcano she must have been in an unusual state of mind. Where most volcanoes spew lava which is rich in silicate materials, Ol Doinyo Lengai is different: very different.

Among all the active volcanoes in the world, Ol Doinyo Lengai is unique.  Its yield of lava is natrocarbonatite in nature. In other words, its mineralogical composition consists of greater than 50 percent carbonate minerals.  A carbonatite is a type of igneous rock more often enveloped in other formations and does not usually make it to the surface on its own.  It is often mistaken for marble. Although there are other examples of natrocarbonatite volcanoes in the world, all but Ol Doinyo Lengai are extinct.  If you want to see a truly different volcano, this is the one to put on the bucket list.
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