Aaron Hughes' "Five Cents," a concrete critique of contemporary capitalism

New York-based artist Aaron Hughes has released his South by Southwest Audience Award-winning short "Five Cents" for free on Vimeo.

In this short, Hughes skillfully mixes hand-drawn drawings with real-life capitalist symbols to create a tangible narrative that anyone who has ever been overwhelmed trying to keep up with the Joneses can relate to. The filmmaker's ability to maintain aesthetic fidelity in the face of an ever-changing canvas is impressive. Somehow the screen never feels cluttered, even though nearly every frame is filled with dozens of lines of text.

According to Hughes,

[Five Cents] is a critique of contemporary capitalism inspired by my own struggles with debt as a student and my time working for the New York Federal Reserve (which was recycling financial newspapers to make this film). It is the story of a consumer whose series of purchases got out of hand.

The short stories were hand-painted in ink, whiteout, gouache paint, and gold leaf on thousands of old market data pages from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Financial Times.

The short film has almost no dialogue, but Brian Cox of "Succession" makes a cameo appearance.