25 February 2012

Our Feathered Friends

I recently came across this marvelous homage to the art of Max Ernst, created by Flickr User Seriykotik1970. You can find a number more at his extremely groovy photostream.

Animal Beatbox

I had to include this on Kuriositas but not necessarily because Animal Beatbox breaks new ground in animation or that it will go on to be nominated for an Academy Award. Rather, I wanted to include it because it is so seriously, deliriously silly – and it’s also rather cleverly put together!

It was created by freelance editor Si Bennett, aided and abetted by Adam Merten and Jag Kiranmay. It must have been huge fun to put together though I have to say I probably wouldn’t have the patience to do anything as seamless as this – even if I did have the talent! 

Thanks, guys, for a highly enjoyable 47 seconds!

24 February 2012

Look What's New on the Fourth Plinth

The power that art has to divide opinion! The newest addition to the fourth plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square is doing just that: some see a vision of childish innocence (as I did I have to admit) while others see the continuing almost nonchalant victory of the lazy upper classes over the oiks (the rest of us in other words).

Whatever your opinion (and of course you will have one) it is a remarkable piece. Perhaps the subject lends itself to lightness but I was astonished to discover that it weighs two tonnes. I suppose it would, being made out of bronze. It is also gold plated – perhaps a nod to one of its sponsors, Louis Vuitton. Since 2005 there have been eight attempts to temporarily fill the empty space, this being the latest. It is certainly monumental – looks can be deceptive: this sculpture stands over four meters in height.

The sculpture, by Elmgreen and Dragset is bizarrely titled Powerless Structures, Fig. 101 but is already being called Rocking Horse Boy by many admirers. It was unveiled by AbFab star Joanna Lumley two days ago – with Boris Johnson the Mayor of London already trying to co-opt it as a mascot for the upcoming Summer Olympics in the city (as if it needs any more marketing).

The fourth plinth was vacant for an age – it was originally intended to be the home of a statue of William IV who was to be depicted atop a horse signalling victory. Powerless Structures, Fig. 101 is certainly surrounded by many a warlike statue - it is seen by the artists as a response to its environment.

In other words it is something of a critique which might make some people a little cross – yet another pop at British history they might say. Yet it is difficult not to be charmed by the rocking horse boy – blithely spirited as he is. His gilt may not presage a new golden age for Britain (all that glitters...) but he is a pint-sized puck who will cheer up many a passerby.

Image Credit
First Image - Flickr User Streatham Mike

22 February 2012

The Big Egg Hunt - Featuring Vicky Scott's Egghog!

You may remember that a year or so ago we featured the artist Vicky Scott (above) and her wonderful artwork. There’s a reminder on the left: click on the picture to see the interview and examples of Vicky’s wonderful work.

Well, you just can’t take your eyes off these artists for a second! Vicky has been involved with an upcoming event in London which promises to be great fun! As Easter is coming it is more than appropriate that the project is all to do with eggs. They may not be chocolate but they are, nevertheless, quite special.

The project is known as the Big Egg Hunt –and you may well have guessed by the name what it entails. A number of artists and celebrities, including Vicky, have been invited to create 209 eggs which will then be cunningly hidden all over central London from 21 February to 3 April. This huge hunt (hopefully the largest stalking of Easter Eggs the world has ever seen) has been organized by the Elephant Family and Action for Children.

Vicky’s design is called Egghog (love it!) and, like the event, pretty much does what it says on the label, as you can see from the pictures! Once the hunt is done the eggs will be auctioned for charity. You can get lots more information from the Big Egg Hunt website – and of course, you do not have to be resident in London to make a bid for the egg of your choice!

20 February 2012

Insert Coin

Who said that boys have no imagination? Well, here are two who will admit that to the end –  boy’s lives are dull, dull, dull. Except, of course, that we can see what they are thinking!

Underestimate the imagination of the boys at your peril -  especially if you are taken along for the ride! Yet forbid the moment if you have to insert a coin – boys sometimes need aids.

This is a wonderful animated short, realised by Alisson Thiebaut, Nicolas Garcia Tunon and Louis Beucler. They are or were students at Haute Ecole Albert Jacquard (HEAJ). Remember when you were a boy, gentlemen? Enjoy!

19 February 2012


If you were to see this old woman in a junk yard you might think that she was a little mad. After all, she seems to pass over all the objects of use and instead choose things which were broken long ago and have no apparent purpose left to their existence whatsoever. You might even argue that the old lady shares that certain characteristic with her strange booty. Yet there is a method to her madness..

This is quite an adorable animated short, created by Chelsea Bartlett at the Ringling College of Art and Design for her degree thesis. Short and sweet it may be, but it serves as a reminder that perhaps we should never judge a book by its cover.

The Shard Nears Completion

Twelve years after the idea for this remarkable building was first mooted, The Shard nears completion in London. It dominates the city’s skyline and is by far the tallest building in London (and the European Union), reaching up a staggering 1017 feet. These pictures, all taken in late January and February 2012, show just how The Shard will become an integral part of the London skyline.

If you look closely towards the top of the tower you will see a crane. This is firmly attached to the building’s 55th storey and can slide sleekly upwards to almost the very top. Unsurprisingly this makes it the highest crane in the United Kingdom – and its operator may well qualify as Britain’s bravest crane driver!

At least he has a cabin – for many of the builders involved in the final touches of the spire – constructed of steel and glass – everyday work involves being exposed to the chilly London weather over a thousand feet above the ground. One can only imagine the triple checking of safety harnesses before they venture out!

If you think that the weather has been cold enough in London over the last few weeks at ground level, spare a thought for the workers atop The Shard. Temperatures are a few degrees lower at that height and the winds are often so strong that work has to be temporarily suspended for hours at a time.

The 72nd floor will be home to an observation deck which will afford visitors views of London which until now have only been experienced by those literally in the air – for helicopter or plane passengers. The observation deck will open in February of 2013 and will provide the ‘money shot’ as it were – the view that only a US$ 690M (£435m) tower can deliver!

It must be admitted, it has come a long way in a year. The above was taken in January 2011.

The Shard will house offices up to its 28th floor. Above that there will be three floors of restaurants with a 19 story hotel. Each of the hotel’s 200 rooms will commands the highest nightly rates in the UK capital. As for the ten apartments which will near the top of the tower – whether you think in pounds, euros or dollars then think in the tens of millions before you consider placing a bid for one of them!

The crowning glory on top of all of this, designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, will be the observation floor. Admired and vilified in equal numbers he envisioned, together with the Broadway Malyan firm, a slither of ice, clothed elegantly and entirely in glass. He also drew inspiration from old pictures by Canaletto of the graceful masts of the sailing ships of yesteryear.

Love it or hate it, The Shard (but not its observation floor) will open in May 2012 – just in time for the London 2012 Olympics. Mr Piano is anticipating it will draw in excess of two million visitors each year. If each visitor is charged £20 (and it was the sole source of the building’s income) it would take over ten years to recoup the cost of the construction!

Image Credit Flickr User Pondspider
Image Credit Flickr User Aurelien

Image Credit
First Image - Flickr User George Rex

18 February 2012

Mr Penn Saves the World Again

15 February 2012

Puppy Love

I never thought I would say this about a 108 second animation but this just about nails the character of every dog I have ever known!

Don’t expect too much psychoanalysis of the nature of the beast, of course – but take a look and see if you don’t agree! Puppy Love gave me the broadest smile of the day so far!

It was created by Girish Manuel and his team and although short, this is very sweet! I have to admit to holding my breath for a while though. Man in hot dog suit, dog getting excited – perhaps I have a dirty mind but what I thought was going to happen didn’t (fortunately!).

14 February 2012

Slow Motion Soda Explosion

There is a certain poetry (methinks) to that title and so there is too with this long and very languid look at the release of shaken up soda from its bottle.

In fact, put it together with this soundtrack (supplied by Johnny Guitar Watson singing I Want To Ta-Ta You Baby) and you have something which could be considered altogether rather naughty. If you don’t get that go ask your mother: no, second thoughts – don’t.

The short film was made by David Coiffier with a I-Movix Sprintcam Vvs HD at one hundred frames per second.

There is a marvelous depth of field here and before you ask – this is two second’s of fizz, extended gracefully over two minutes.

13 February 2012

Cthulhu Valentines

A Star Wars Valentine

Lost Love

The Science -and Silliness - of Kissing

A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous. - Ingrid Bergman

Think about it. If a spaceship full of aliens landed on earth to observe human behavior, how on earth would we explain the act of kissing?  One person touches another person with their lips.  Not, of course, lips to lips alone.  Lips to cheek, lips to neck, lips to – well, just about any other body part can be considered.  Imagine the polite but nevertheless obvious squirming with embarrassment that could be involved on either or both sides of the species divide: especially if they landed on Valentine's Day.

Kissing is a means of getting two people so close together that they can't see anything wrong with each other. – Rene Yasenek
An immediate question might be what is the act for?  The reply could constitute the making of a list that even the most list-seeking list seeker on the internet might find overlong.  Tongue nevertheless in cheek, most people would associate kissing with love and sexual desire and the aliens would probably accept this as part of our self-evidently bizarre mating habits.  When this basic question is elaborated upon, however, to include greeting, respect, sympathy, luck giving, affection and, most puzzlingly, false empathy then who would blame our visitors from outer space from turning tail and leaving this planet in a huff?

I am in favor of preserving the French habit of kissing ladies' hands - after all, one must start somewhere. - Sacha Guitry
The origins of the word are old enough – the Old English language gifted the world the word kiss from their own – ‘cyssan’.  Origins of the word aside, the reason for this most simple yet complex act to exist is still perplexing philematologists (those who study kissing).  They cannot decide whether or not kissing is a learned behavior or if it is instinctive. 

A kiss is something you cannot give without taking and cannot take without giving - Author Unknown
Many believe that it is related to grooming and this can be seen between different species on the planet.  Due to the willingness of people to anthropomorphize animals and gleefully spread photos of these occurrences on the internet (guilty as charged) then it is easy to fall in to this potential trap.  It is just as likely that kissing evolved from mothers chewing food for their infants and then passing it from mouth to mouth. So, perhaps the act of kissing does not have a sexual origin at all.

I wasn't kissing her, I was whispering in her mouth. – Chico Marx
Kissing proper involves the body doing quite a lot of work.  Thirty four of the face’s muscles are used in the act as well as a whole host of the body’s postural muscles.  The most important of these is your sphincter muscle - we kid you not.  Your posture may have just changed when you read the last sentence but allow yourself a second or two to relax your sphincter a little.  The body has over forty sphincter muscles and the orbicularis oris muscle (known to friends as the kissing muscle), consists of lots of fibers around the hole that is your mouth all of which have varying directions.  If you play a brass instrument you orbicularis oris will be particularly well developed.

Kiss me and you will see how important I am. – Sylvia Plath
Let’s add, for good measure, the tongue.  When used in the act, kissing becomes French Kissing, or to use the more basic UK slang available to us, it becomes a damn good snog.  This is where the tongue of one or both participants enters the mouth of the other.  (The aliens are now, of course, way past Jupiter, leaving us to ramble on our own).  While we might not like to be seen to encourage teenagers in this act, many evolutionary biologists believe that there is a real function here. 

The first kiss I had was the most disgusting thing in my life. The girl injected about a pound of saliva, into my mouth, and when I walked away I had to spit it all out. – Leonardo DiCaprio
The object of the exercise – as much as prolonged and intense sucking face needs an excuse other than the obvious – is to check out the potential partner’s immune system through the saliva.  It could also be used to avoid breeding with a relative.  Quite how this is done by the body on an instinctive level remains a mystery but many people have been put off further bodily exploration and penetration by a French kiss with another for reasons upon which they cannot quite put their finger.  No need, it seems when the tongue has done it for you.

Kiss and make up - but too much makeup has ruined many a kiss. - Mae West
Of course the kiss is not always a prelude to getting ‘down on it’.  Kisses are mostly used to express affection between people - quite often to say hello or goodbye.  More often than not the lips will just about touch the cheek of the recipient and sometimes no contact at all will be made.  The emergence of the air kiss, a pretense of the act, accompanied by ‘mwah’ as an exhortation (with or without exclamation marks depending on the relationship) could perhaps be an evolution of the act.  Or, it could simply be an expression of desire – the desire to keep one’s (overdone) makeup intact.

People who throw kisses are hopelessly lazy. – Bob Hope
The most likely root of the air kiss is the blown or thrown kiss, which is often done to audiences but can be done between just two people where the physical distance between the two prohibits the act itself.  Sexuality can be removed from the act altogether when the act of kissing is used to display sympathy or reconciliation with others.  It can also be used to offer luck or to celebrate success without any sexual intent whatsoever.  Same sex kissing between men who are heterosexual is quite common in many countries. 

I married the first man I ever kissed.  When I tell this to my children they just about throw up. - Barbara Bush
The kiss is like an iceberg.  This article could be seen as the top ten percent peeking above the water.  With so much more left to say – and with the aliens just having pushed the warp drive button as they pass by Pluto (saddest of ex-planets) – perhaps you might feel the urge to go and do some practical research. Happy kissing!

Kuriositas would like to thank Juan Felipe Rubio (Flickr User Sicoactiva) for making the wonderful photo collages available under Creative Commons.