The five-minute museum

6 minutes

Last acre

12 minutes

The wolf dividing Norway

29 minutes

The evolution of cynicism

5 minutes

Unreal city

6 minutes

Fast-forward through a history of human artefacts, from arrowheads to plastic toys

For his short film The Five-Minute Museum (2015), the UK director Paul Bush was given access to objects in some of the premier historical museums of Europe, including the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the Bern Historical Museum in Switzerland. The resulting short video provides a whirlwind survey of human history, from arrowheads to plastic toys. Flipping through objects at a rate of 24 images per second, Bush builds a series of stop-motion animations spanning from the Bronze Age to the Information Age, and touching on such timeless and intertwined human endeavours as religion, recreation, food, currency and war. Meticulously crafted with impressive sound design to match, the resulting film forms an arc that perhaps mirrors the character of humanity itself – brimming with contradictions, and cascading ever forward.

Director: Paul Bush

Producers: Gerd Gockell, Ted Sieger, Jochen Ehmann

A world of shacks and shanties is a place of makeshift beauty on England’s margins

At the beginning of the 20th century, a number of impoverished Britons set out in search of their own Arcadia. They found it, for a time, in poorly developed strips of land that had been neglected or abandoned by others. This cheap or sometimes even free land gave these pioneers a place to build their own humble shacks out of old bits of wood and boat, creating utopias that came to be called ‘Plotlands’. Life in the Plotlands continues still, and is precarious, improvised and marginal – yet full of rugged beauty. The UK filmmakers Jacob Cartwright and Nick Jordan capture that makeshift, unconventional beauty in this short documentary, set to Peter Warlock’s inimitable composition The Curlew (1920-22) and filmed on the salt marshes of Lowsy Point near Barrow-in-Furness in northwest England.

Directors: Jacob Cartwright, Nick Jordan

Narrator: Judy May

The divisive debate over hunting Norway’s endangered wolves

During the 1960s, wolves nearly vanished from Norway’s landscape due to overhunting; now, there are no more than 70 wolves left in the country. Although the wild predators – known to prey on farmers’ livestock – received protection under law in 1971, the debate between hunters and conservationists over the fate of the remaining endangered population has been heated and divisive ever since. The Wolf Dividing Norway shows how this debate culminates in December 2019, as groups on both sides of the conflict wait to hear whether the government will authorise the annual winter wolf hunt. With unprecedented access to remote communities at the heart of the debate, the Norwegian documentary filmmaker Kyrre Lien humanises the frustration coming from both sides, providing a sensitive look at one of Norway’s most polarising topics.

Director: Kyrre Lien

Cynicism was born when Diogenes rejected materialism and manners

Plato once described the philosopher Diogenes of Sinope as ‘a Socrates gone mad!’ It’s a good comparison. Like Socrates, Diogenes gave the bird to respectable society. He undermined status and manners in the 4th century BCE with his bottomless reserve of shamelessness and irreverence, opting to live on the streets like a stray dog. But, of course, there was a method to his madness. In this short video by TED-Ed, the Irish philosopher William D Desmond explains how Diogenes lived an authentic and ascetic life in accordance with nature, and how in doing so he founded the philosophy of cynicism – an iconoclastic tradition that continues to illuminate and infuriate today.

Video by TED-Ed

Director: Avi Ofer

Writer: William D Desmond

How an augmented reality app transformed London into an immersive art gallery

If you ever hopped on the Pokémon GO craze, you’ll have an inkling of how digital technology is increasingly capable of adding rich new slices to everyday life. The public exhibition ‘Unreal City’, which ran from 8 December 2020 to 5 January 2021 on the River Thames in London – and is, until 9 February 2021, available for at-home viewing – similarly superimposed digital layers on to reality, but with an aim to transform the city into an immersive augmented reality (AR) art gallery. An initiative from the AR app Acute Art and Dazed Media, the exhibition featured 36 digital sculptures from artists around the globe, and was arranged as a riverside walking tour at a time when indoor museums had become mostly inaccessible due to COVID-19. Featuring images of some of the sculptures and words from artists including Olafur Eliasson, Tomás Saraceno, Cao Fei and KAWS, this trailer for the ‘Unreal City’ exhibition is an exciting glimpse into the potential for AR as it continues to transform cities in strange and surprising ways.

Director: Kate Villevoye

Website: Dazed

Fast-forward through a history of human artefacts, from arrowheads to plastic toys

For his short film The Five-Minute Museum (2015), the UK director Paul Bush was given access to objects in some of the premier historical museums of Europe, including the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the Bern Historical Museum in Switzerland. The resulting short video provides a whirlwind survey of human history, from arrowheads to plastic toys. Flipping through objects at a rate of 24 images per second, Bush builds a series of stop-motion animations spanning from the Bronze Age to the Information Age, and touching on such timeless and intertwined human endeavours as religion, recreation, food, currency and war. Meticulously crafted with impressive sound design to match, the resulting film forms an arc that perhaps mirrors the character of humanity itself – brimming with contradictions, and cascading ever forward.

Director: Paul Bush

Producers: Gerd Gockell, Ted Sieger, Jochen Ehmann

Aeon is not-for-profit
and free for everyone
Make a donation
Get Aeon straight
to your inbox
Join our newsletter

Elizabeth I of England (c1588), artist unknown. One of three known as the Armada portraits and on display in Woburn Abbey. Courtesy Wikipedia

Essay/
Cognition and intelligence
How to be a genius

I travelled the world and trawled the archive to unearth the hidden lessons from history’s most brilliant people

Craig Wright

Emerging towards 241 18th Street (centre), home to Amazon’s new HQ2 in Crystal City, Virginia. Photo by Dermot Tatlow/Panos Pictures

Essay/
Technology and the self
The problem with prediction

Cognitive scientists and corporations alike see human minds as predictive machines. Right or wrong, they will change how we think

Joseph Fridman