EXCLUSIVE

Please vote for me

34 minutes

Liza

2 minutes

3D-printing coral reefs

4 minutes

The final nights

18 minutes

Jackson Pollock: Blue Poles

17 minutes

See real democracy in action – how Chinese third-graders elect a class monitor

‘What kind of thing is “Democracy”?’

Born into an authoritarian state that professes to value the greater good over individual expression, many Chinese children have little familiarity with Western ideals of democracy. Nevertheless, they prove themselves quick studies in Please Vote For Me, which chronicles China’s first ever modern classroom election, held among third-graders in the city of Wuhan. After the students learn the basic tenets of democracy, a campaign for the position of class monitor swiftly descends into an all too familiar jumble of campaign promises, back-room deals and dirty tricks. Funny, touching and full of small surprises, the Chinese director Weijun Chen’s documentary is a wry look at the democratic process and all its chaotic, imperfect promise.

This version of Please Vote For Me was excerpted for Wholphin from a feature-length documentary of the same name.

Director: Weijun Chen

Producer: Don Edkins

Websites: www.steps.co.za, whydemocracy.net, afridocs.net

Can you express sounds with sights? An artist takes a crack at animating jazz piano

For his short film Liza, the French animator Bastien Dupriez aimed to create ‘a kind of visual transcription’ of the George Gershwin song Liza (All the Clouds’ll Roll Away) (1929), as performed by the French musician Jean-Michel Pilc. As the rollicking jazz piano builds, the frame splashes with abstract shapes and colours, as well as hints of human forms. The resulting effect is of visuals built to accompany and respond to the mood of the music, rather than the much more familiar inverse experience. Beyond serving as a mesmerising slice of audiovisual eye candy – and it certainly is that – the piece also provokes a bevy of intriguing questions about our multisensory experience of art.

Director: Bastien Dupriez

Ceramic coral reefs and sawdust houses – the architects 3D-printing the future from scratch

3D printing is moving beyond plastics: instead, the American architects Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello (working together as Rael San Fratello) use a wide array of recycled and organic materials – everything from car tyres and sawdust to grape skins and coffee grounds. Via experimentation with such novel substances, the duo aims not only to create more sustainable approaches to 3D printing, but to brainstorm innovative solutions to pressing societal problems too. This video from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York takes viewers inside Rael San Fratello’s ‘print farm’ in Northern California, and spotlights two of their most promising initiatives – a project to support coral reef restoration via protective clay ‘coral seeding units’, and a prototype cabin built from ceramic and sawdust tiles to help solve California’s affordable housing crisis.

Video by MoMA

Director: Jennifer Sharpe

What a ‘good death’ can look like, in the quiet company of a compassionate stranger

‘When I can’t do things for someone else, I simply become unhappy,’ says Loes Prakke, waiting outside the front door of a small house late one evening. She rings, enters and introduces herself to Joop, an elderly man who is sitting up in bed and clearly sick. She tells him she’ll be staying through the night, so that Joop’s loved one, Ria, can get some rest. After acknowledging his hardship, she offers to spend some time chatting so they might get to know one another a bit.

The third volunteer to watch over Joop in his illness, Loes’s warm presence is a simple yet deeply meaningful gift to the couple – a reassurance that Joop will be cared for and comfortable during this final phase of his life. In her short documentary The Final Nights, the Dutch director Reneé van der Ven matches the gentle presence of her subject with her filmmaking, capturing Loes’s extraordinary gift for compassion with a respectful observational style. In chronicling Loes and Joop’s nights together, the film quietly reflects on the meaning of a ‘good death’, as well as the power of human connection in its many distinct forms.

Director: Reneé van der Ven

Why a Jackson Pollock masterpiece became an Australian tabloid sensation

The American abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock (1912-56) is a rare artist whose name, style and influence has grown to reach far beyond the art world. But when the National Gallery of Australia in 1973 bought one of Pollock’s most celebrated works, Blue Poles (1952), for a record-breaking sum of US$2 million, it set off a national controversy over the merits of abstract art, as well as about the painting’s place in Australia’s national collection. This short documentary from the New York City-based filmmaker Alison Chernick recalls the unlikely story of how the Australian government’s landmark purchase divided the nation as well as the art world, became an unlikely tabloid sensation, and ultimately found its place in Australian culture.

Director: Alison Chernick

Producer: Alison Wright

Website: National Gallery of Australia

See real democracy in action – how Chinese third-graders elect a class monitor

‘What kind of thing is “Democracy”?’

Born into an authoritarian state that professes to value the greater good over individual expression, many Chinese children have little familiarity with Western ideals of democracy. Nevertheless, they prove themselves quick studies in Please Vote For Me, which chronicles China’s first ever modern classroom election, held among third-graders in the city of Wuhan. After the students learn the basic tenets of democracy, a campaign for the position of class monitor swiftly descends into an all too familiar jumble of campaign promises, back-room deals and dirty tricks. Funny, touching and full of small surprises, the Chinese director Weijun Chen’s documentary is a wry look at the democratic process and all its chaotic, imperfect promise.

This version of Please Vote For Me was excerpted for Wholphin from a feature-length documentary of the same name.

Director: Weijun Chen

Producer: Don Edkins

Websites: www.steps.co.za, whydemocracy.net, afridocs.net

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