Get curated editors’ picks, peeks behind the scenes, film recommendations and more.
At the dawn of the 20th century, Oakland in Maine was part of New England’s thriving manufacturing economy, and was known as the axe-making capital of the world. But by the 1960s, the rise of mass and foreign production had forced almost a dozen Oakland axe manufacturers to close up shop. Filmed in 1964 by the Maine-based photographer and filmmaker Peter Vogt, Pioneer Axe documents the forging of fine axes at Oakland’s last operating workshop, Emerson & Stevens, just months before it, too, was forced out of business. Shot on 35mm black-and-white film, the short captures each stage of the process as this small factory churns out blades with swift efficiency by melding human and machine labour. With its focus on both the craft and the market undercurrents threatening it, the film examines forces of automation and international trade that remain extremely relevant in the US economy today.
Director: Peter Vogt
‘Why does life have to be so complicated?’ A school trip to the world of work
Water, salt and music form a mesmerising visualisation of sound waves
Film and visual culture
A Palme d’Or-winning animation toys with the way our eyes perceive light
How a self-taught autistic artist mines creativity from life’s endless variations
Nature and landscape
An afternoon with hobbyist diamond miners in Arkansas is a thing of rare beauty
Witness the majesty of moths taking flight at 6,000 frames per second
Jocelyn Bell discovered pulsars. The Nobel Prize went to her supervisor
Animals and humans
A bluesy ballad tells the story of Old Bet, the first circus elephant in the US
In this 1975 lecture, the maglev train’s inventor deconstructs his ingenious design