Mexican handcraft masters: lacquer, gold and cane

6 minutes

The wolf dividing Norway

29 minutes

The evolution of cynicism

5 minutes

Unreal city

6 minutes

Kidnapper ants

5 minutes

Pre-Hispanic and colonial traditions combine in Mario’s uniquely Mexican artworks

From his family workshop in the town of Pátzcuaro in the Mexican state of Michoacán, Mario Agustín crafts religious icons and lavishly adorned plates from organic materials. Using local plants, mineral soil, cochineal insects and even cow urine to create unique materials and brilliant pigments, his crafts combine indigenous techniques dating back as far as 500 BCE with methods from the colonial era to create distinctly Mexican works of art. Part of the Mexican director Mariano Rentería Garnica’s Mexican Handcraft Masters short documentary series on artisans in Michoacán, this short portrait captures how Agustín keeps inherited knowledge alive through his work.

Director: Mariano Rentería Garnica

Producer: Jorge Díez Maza

Website: El Relicario

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

Incredible footage captures the ants that transform other species into loyal servants

You might assume that a creature incapable of feeding itself would have a one-way ticket off the food chain and into the dustbin of extinction. But some ant species with mandibles that are ill-equipped for eating have developed a clever – if not quite mutual – means of finding sustenance and perpetuating. Known as ‘kidnapper’ or ‘slave-making’ ants, these parasitic creatures raid the nests of other ant species, capture their young and carry them to their home nest. Using scents to keep the new arrivals oblivious to the fact that they’re far from home, the kidnappers deploy their captors to tend to their young, forage for their food, and even chew and feed it to them in a process known as trophallaxis. Captured in stunning high definition by the science documentary series Deep Look, this short video tracks red kidnapper ants in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California as they raid, kidnap and brainwash the young from a nearby black ant species’ nest. You can learn more about this video at KQED Science.

Video by KQED Science

Producer and Writer: Josh Cassidy

Narrator and Writer: Lauren Sommer

Pre-Hispanic and colonial traditions combine in Mario’s uniquely Mexican artworks

From his family workshop in the town of Pátzcuaro in the Mexican state of Michoacán, Mario Agustín crafts religious icons and lavishly adorned plates from organic materials. Using local plants, mineral soil, cochineal insects and even cow urine to create unique materials and brilliant pigments, his crafts combine indigenous techniques dating back as far as 500 BCE with methods from the colonial era to create distinctly Mexican works of art. Part of the Mexican director Mariano Rentería Garnica’s Mexican Handcraft Masters short documentary series on artisans in Michoacán, this short portrait captures how Agustín keeps inherited knowledge alive through his work.

Director: Mariano Rentería Garnica

Producer: Jorge Díez Maza

Website: El Relicario

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

Samuel Beckett on the set of Film in New York during his only visit to the United States in 1964. Photo by I C Rappaport/Getty

Essay/
Stories and literature
The wisdom of surrender

Samuel Beckett turned an obscure 17th-century Christian heresy into an artistic vision and an unusual personal philosophy

Andy Wimbush

Districts like the largely Latino Mission District in San Francisco have experienced the effects of gentrification with fast-rising housing costs and the eviction of longtime tenants. 9 May 2015. Photo by Preston Gannaway/New York Times

Essay/
Cities
The harms of gentrification

The exclusion of poorer people from their own neighbourhoods is not just a social problem but a philosophical one

Daniel Putnam