29 April 2012

Kagemono: The Shadow Folk

This is the story of a little fox who, when we meet him, is wandering through the woods on a hunting trip. Unfortunately he soon comes across something quite frightening and dark and ends up the one being hunted instead!  This animated short by Sabrina Cotugno represents her fourth year film at Calarts.  As such the sophistication of the artwork and animation belies the fact that it is an undergraduate work.

The texture of the piece is really quite lovely, giving it a hand painted feel. I also really like the design of our little hero here – especially the extraordinarily bushy tail that Cotugno has given him (or her!).  Altogether this is a charming piece and certainly indicative of greater things to come.


You can have a lot of fun with the alphabet, if you know where to start! This animated short by BlinkMyBrain gives all the letters a new lease of life using the Chunk Five font (cool and free – a really good combination!).  This is a really inventive piece of work, very smoothly executed and the sound track works a treat too!

BlinkMyBrain happens to have a real name, too – Ariel Costa, who is an animation director, graphic and motion designer based in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

28 April 2012

Hummingbirds in Flight

Nothing can quite prepare you for the exquisite sight of a hummingbird on the wing. Nature has truly spoiled us with this astonishing spectacle. Take a look over on Ark in Space as ten different species take flight in their search for food and marvel at the aerodynamics of one of the world's truly astonishing species.

Image Credit

27 April 2012

The Dalek Invasion of MIT

It seems the Daleks are in need of our scientific minds because this week saw their first assault on an American university.  The Stata Center of Massachusetts Institute of Technology became what is to become just the first of their many outposts at earthly institutions of higher education.  Or perhaps they are just fans of the architecture of Frank Gehry and are simply looking for a little home decor inspiration for a new pad back on planet Skaro?

Hmm! We suspect the presence of this particular genetically engineered Kaled mutant, replete with mechanical shell is more to do with student high jinks than any immediate threat of invasion from the fictional frighteners! The Stata Center – which has divided opinion since it opened in 2004 as to whether it is brilliant, a mess or a brilliant mess – has been the victim of a number of pranks (or hacks in modern parlance) in its short life.

The building, which houses MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems, as well as the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy seems to be a magnet to pranksters.  Harry Potter broomsticks, Where’s Waldo’s facial features and a crashed UFO are just some of the hacks that have taken place in and around the center. That’s before you mention the changing of the MIT sign in front of the building – amazing what the addition of two letters (in this case  V and O) in front can do to a name.

This dalek, however, does not seem to be as home made as some of the previous hacks.  It is certainly not an example of the new paradigm but someone has taken a huge amount of time and care to create this classic era replica. One can only hope this dalek reigns supreme at MIT for at least a few days before he is removed to a secure location...

Footnote: If you do not know what a dalek is, read the Wikipedia entry and wonder what you have been missing since 1963!

First Image Credit Chris Devers

Fancy a bit of Shwopping?

Brick Lane in East London became temporary home to almost ten thousand items of discarded clothing.  It seems that this is the amount of clothing that the good citizen of the UK throw out every five minutes (well, 9,513 to be exact but what’s a few hundred between friends?). This extraordinary display came about to raise awareness of something that high street retailers Marks and Spencer will become a household word – shwopping.

The idea is simple really. Instead of throwing away unwanted or used clothes M&S want us to take them to their stores where we can deposit them in a ‘shwop’ drop box.  As they have over three hundred stores in the UK this represents a large scale attempt to recycle clothing, so much of which simply ends up in landfill at the moment.

So, will shwopping (or buy one give one back) catch on? Only time will tell but you have to admit – it’s not a bad idea at all - not that I would particularly appreciate my shop front covered in old clothes for more than a few hours, however good the cause!

22 April 2012

Sea Odyssey - Giant Expectations for Liverpool

Friday 20 April saw a weekend long Sea Odyssey street theater event in Liverpool in the north of England.  The occasion was inspired by a letter written by a little girl to her father. He was a steward above the ill fated RMS Titanic which was registered in Liverpool.

The steward, William McMurray was not one of the lucky passengers and crew who survived the sinking of the ship.  The letter arrived after the Titanic had left on its first and final voyage and was eventually returned to his daughter. Sea Odyssey re-invents this sad tale with the girl (known as Little Girl Giant) traversing the streets of Liverpool on an undertaking.

She is in Liverpool to find out news of her father from her uncle who has taken it upon himself to dive to the wreck of the ship. While he goes to the depths she can do little but wait - and then wander in search of him when he does not show up.

While she awaits news, she does at least have company in the shape of her pet dog. He's a rather cheeky looking boy!

All told the giant marionettes have moved more than 40 kilometers through Liverpool since the event began.Yet none of this would be possible without the hugely skilled team of puppeteers who use their immense experience to breathe life in to their wards.

The vast models are the brainchild of Royal de Luxe which is based in Nantes, France. They got together with Liverpool City Council to organize this extraordinary commemoration of the centenary of the Titanic disaster. The Little Girl Giant is 9 meters high (that’s 30 feet) and her uncle is 15 meters (50 feet).

Over 100,000 people have so far lined the streets of Liverpool to watch the extraordinary journey take place. Sea Odyssey is the last event to make use of European legacy support from the Liverpool Capital of Culture year in 2008. It may be the final occasion that an event in the city is orchestrated as a result of the European funding it received four years ago but is just another example of the ability of a city once written off by politicians to re-invent itself.

Certainly the size of the marionettes could be seen as a visual metaphor for the cultural renaissance of Liverpool over recent years. What once appeared to be lost is found. Yet will the Little Girl Giant and her uncle be reunited? This titanic story has, at least, a happy ending. Here is the moment when they are finally reunited.

First Image Credit Corky Wirral


This is a lot of fun and an unusual take on the horror genre. D tells the story of, well, the letter D. As the fourth point in an unjoined rectangle, poor old D is something of a wimp and scared of the thunder and lightning which is happening outside of the spooky library in which he lives.  However, there is something of which he should be even more frightened – a murderous pen who is looking to prove once and for all that he is mightier than the sword!

D was written, directed and edited by Rafael Velásquez Stanbury and produced by Chiguire Animation Studios, Los Otros Group, CNAC, Rafael Velásquez & René Alex. What is great about this animated short is that it takes a rather (well very!) unpromising premise and makes it a completely enthralling roller coaster of a ride. It is difficult to give human animations character but we really feel for D in his flight from certain inkage! Congratulations to all involved!


This is rather lovely. It is the latest piece by animator Raoul Olou and is based around the theme that in a single breath, life goes on. It was created in Flash which surprised me as it has a much more textured feel than your average flash animation.

However, when I learned that Raoul then painted it frame by frame in Photoshop it made a lot more sense. Hats off to Raoul for what must have been a back breakingly long job.

You have to admit – the overall effect is, indeed, rather lovely.

21 April 2012

The Art of the Elements

This is something that we haven’t seen before though once you see it you wonder why not! Artist and programmer Randi Boice (under her Flickr name tankgirlrs) has given a new artistic lease of life to the Periodic Table of Elements by imagining the first ten in terms of art and photography.  So, take a look and see what you make of them. Click on each picture if you would like to read more about the artist’s concept. Plus, there are lots more examples of her very interesting and diverse work on her Flickr Photostream.

So there you have them - the first ten elements on the periodic table in all their glory. Hydrogen, helium, lithium, beryllium, boron, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, florine and neon have never looked better.