Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘art’

03 MARCH, 2011

TED 2011: The Rediscovery of Wonder, Day 3

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Embracing chaos, 57 things Google knows about you, and how to 3D-print a kidney.

This week, we’re reporting live from TED 2011: The Rediscovery of Wonder. So far, we warmed up with 5 must-read books by some of this year’s speakers, synthesized highlights from Day 1 and Day 2, and spotlighted an inspired urban intervention by designer and TED Fellow Candy Chang. Today, we’re back — on the brink of our sleep budged — with highlights, photos and notable soundbites from Day 3 — dig in.

Historian Edward Tenner

Culture and technology historian Edward Tenner showed statistical evidence that the greatest time for game-changing innovation in modern history was actually The Great Depression, which had a paradoxically stimulating effect on creativity. He argued that one of the grand questions of our time is how to close the gap between our capabilities and our foresight.

Our ability to innovate is increasing geometrically but our capacity to model those innovations is linear.” ~ Edward Tenner

Tenner’s excellent 1997 book, Why Things Bite Back: Technology & the Revenge of Unintended Consequences, will change the way you think about adversity, opportunity and innovation.

Chris Anderson presenting the winners of the Ads Worth Spreading contest.

Image credit: James Duncan Davidson / TED

TED announced the 10 winners of the inaugural Ads Worth Spreading contest, seeking to reframe commercial communication from an interruption to inspiration.

Eli Pariser of MoveOn.org fame, author of the excellent forthcoming The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You, delivered a stride-stopping and timely curtain-pull on our modern information diet and what we’re being force-fed by the powers of the Internet. Google, apparently, looks at 57 data points to serve us personally tailored search results.

We’ve moved to an age where the Internet is showing us what it thinks we want to see, but not necessarily what we need to see.” ~ Eli Pariser

Which raises the question of responsibility: Is the responsibility of those who serve information to give us more of what we already like and believe, or to open our eyes to new perspectives? And if it’s all algorithmically driven, is there even a place for such responsibility? Our key takeaway from Pariser’s talk, one particularly relevant to our own credo, is that human information curators will have an increasingly important role as moral mitigators of algorithmic personalization efficiency.

Eli Pariser 'We need the new information gatekeepers to encode a sense of civic responsibility into algorithms.'

Image credit: James Duncan Davidson / TED

We need the Internet to introduce us to different ideas and different perspectives.” ~ Eli Pariser

Virginia Tech’s Dennis Hong is building the world’s first vehicle for the visually-impaired. and recently made history with the Blind Driver Challenge.

Dennis Hong 'We need the new information gatekeepers to encode a sense of civic responsibility into algorithms.'

Image credit: James Duncan Davidson / TED

High-functioning autistic savant Daniel Tammet opened the door to his fascinating view of the world. He used synesthesia, the strange neurological crossing of the senses, as an example of how the world is often richer than we think it to be.

Daniel Tammet shows us the world through the eyes of an autistic savant.

Image credit: James Duncan Davidson / TED

Tammet’s Born On A Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant is one of the most fascinating perspective shifts you’ll ever read.

Google's Sebastian Thrun 'We took a driverless car from San Francisco to LA, and no one even noticed there was no driver.'

Image credit: James Duncan Davidson / TED

The idea behind the Stuxnet worm is quite simple: We don’t want Iran to get the bomb.” ~ Ralph Langner

Security consultant Ralph Langner 'Mossad is responsible for Stuxnet. But the real force behind that is not Israel, it is the only cyber force: The U.S.'

Image credit: James Duncan Davidson / TED

In one of the day’s most jaw-dropping demos, the kind that restores one’s faith in humanity, Berkley BionicsEythor Bender showcased the incredible eLEGS exoskeletons, which enable the paralyzed to walk again, and HULC, which enables ordinary people to carry up to 200 lbs. Bender was joined onstage by a soldier, who demoed HULC, and a paralyzed woman who walked for the first time in 18 years thanks to eLEGS.

Eythor Bender on stage with paraplegic Amanda Boxtel, ecstatic in her new non-invasive exoskeleton legs.

Image credit: James Duncan Davidson / TED

Biomedical engineer Fiorenzo Omenetto is developing amazing non-invasive implants made of silicon and silk.

Fiorenzo Omenetto shows a disposable cup made of silk, a biodegradable, biocompatible alternative to the highly unsustainable styrofoam.

Image credit: James Duncan Davidson / TED

There was no shortage of astounding demos today. Anthony Atala, whose work in 3D organ printing is an unbelievable next frontier in medicine, literally “printed” a kidney on the TED stage as 1,700 of the world’s smartest people gasped in awe, speechless.

Anthony Atala 'prints' a kidney to a collective gasp.

Image credit: James Duncan Davidson / TED

The remarkable papercut artist Béatrice Coron, whose stunning artwork we’ve spotted on the New York subway, echoed some of our own beliefs about combinatorial creativity:

I’m influenced by everything I read, everything I see. In life and in paper cutting, everything is connected: One story leads to another.” ~ Beatrice Coron

Watch Coron’s creative process and swoon like we did:

Keep an eye on our live Twitter coverage and come back here tomorrow evening for highlights from the final day.

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02 MARCH, 2011

Drawing Inspiration: An Animated Film about Routine & Serendipity

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Drawing Inspiration is a charming animated modern-day fable about serendipity and the deep desire to transcend aimlessness. It tells the story of a man all too enslaved by his routine who one day finds some mysterious sketches on the park bench he visits daily. The drawings prompt him to reconsider the world and his place in it, as he encounters a young boy whose innocent hunger for the world helps peel away those layers of protection and reclusion.

The making-of instills an even deeper sense of appreciation for both the animation technique and the broader creative vision behind the project.

The work of a team of writers, directors, animators and artists, Drawing Inspiration is the kind of quiet smile-inducer that makes you breathe a little more deeply as you walk to work and look a little more closely as you stroll among your fellow beings.

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01 MARCH, 2011

TED 2011: The Rediscovery of Wonder, Day One

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This week, we’re letting our brains explode so you don’t have to.

This week, we’re reporting live from TED 2011: The Rediscovery of Wonder. Earlier, we warmed up with 5 must-read books by some of this year’s speakers and a lovely urban revitalization art project by TED Fellow Candy Chang. Today, we’re back with highlights from Day One. Ingest, enjoy and ponder.

TED curator Chris Anderson, one of our big cultural heroes, opens the first session of Day One: Monumental. It certainly was.

In an exclusive TED reveal, Martin Scorsese revealed a new project using cutting-edge digital technologies to restore Luchino Visconti’s iconic 50-year-old film Il Gattopardo to its full glory. A partnership between Scorsese’s nonprofit, The Film Foundation, and Gucci, the effort will grow the collection by at least one film from a visionary filmmaker every year.

Astronomer and physicist Janna Levin asked some mind-bending questions about the nature of the universe and played some incredible black hole demonstrations by Andrew Hamilton.

Astronomer Janna Levin tickles the underbelly of the universe with the profound touch of human curiosity.

Image credit: James Duncan Davidson / TED

We have to ask, is it possible that our universe is just a plume off some greater history? Is it possible that we are just one patch in a multiverse? Are there others wondering who else is out there?” ~ Janna Levin

New York Times columnist David Brooks, one of our favorite magazine writers, probed into social psychology and the depths of consciousness.

The effectiveness of a group is not determined by the IQ of the group but by how well they communicate.” ~ David Brooks

David Brooks points out that the human mind takes in about a million pieces of information per minute, of which it's onl consciously aware of about 40.

Image credit: James Duncan Davidson / TED

Emotions are not separate from reason, but they’re the foundation for it because they tell us what to value.” ~ David Brooks

Eric Whitacre told the story of his deeply inspirational virtual choir, which brought together nearly 200 talented singers from around the world in a spellbinding collaborative performance of “Lux Aurumque” via YouTube:

Whitacre finished with the premiere of the project’s sequel, “Sleep 2.0,” bringing together over 2,000 videos from 58 countries in an ambitious collaborative performance of Whitacre’s original 1999 song, “Sleep.” It was revealed to the world for the first time here at TED and debuting online in April.

Al Jazeera founder Wadah Khanfar offered timeless insight on human rights and democracy, wrapped in timely insights from the recent Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions. He shared that Al Jazeera has been banned from Tunisia for years, but the people in the streets became the network’s “reporters,” filling Al Jazeera’s newsrooms with raw footage, tweets and constantly flowing real-time information.

Al Jazeera's Wadah Khanfar delivers an impassioned defense for the monumental importance of journalism in today's global politics.

Image credit: James Duncan Davidson / TED

The values of democracy and the freedom of choice sweeping the Middle East right now are the best opportunity for the world to see stability and tolerance and peace.” ~ Wadah Khanfar

The lovely Sunni Brown goes bold in defense of doodling as a way of making sense of the world and sparking the kind of thinking at the root of innovation. Her book, Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers, is an absolute must-read.

Doodling has a profound impact on the way we process information and solve problems.” ~ Sunni Brown

The Handspring Puppet Company brings to life the Joey the War Horse.

Image credit: James Duncan Davidson / TED

South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company demonstrated their remarkably lifelike puppets that live at the intersection of design and engineering, with a delightful Steampunk feel. Here’s a little teaser from the Indaba design conference:

British architect and designer Thomas Heatherwick showcased some of his remarkable, thoughtful architecture projects, including the mind-blowingly brilliant Seed Cathedral UK pavilion from Shanghai 2010 and London’s astounding rolling bridge.

Seed Cathedral was the only project we ever built that when it was done, looked more like a rendering than the rendering.” ~ Thomas Heatherwick

Arctic photographer Paul Nicklen took us on a bittersweet journey to a frozen wonderland, showcasing the breathtaking beauty and vibrant character of its inhabitants and stressing that by losing polar ice, we risk losing this entire fascinating and rich ecosystem.

Polar photographer and conservation advocate Paul Nicklen made friends with a female leopard seal, who kept bringing him dead penguins as a token of her love. We all have our ways.

Image credit: James Duncan Davidson / TED

See more of his breathtaking work in the most excellent Polar Obsession:

Looking towards an uncertain future, a huge male bear triggers a camera trap, taking his own picture. Leifdefjorden, Spitsbergen, Norway

A gentoo penguin chick peeks, checking for patrolling leopard seals before tempting fate. Port Lockroy, Antarctic Peninsula

Mother bear and two-year-old cub drift on glacier ice. Hudson Strait, Nunavut, Canada

As longtime fans for Bobby McFerrin, whose insight on music and emotion is unmissable, we were overjoyed to see him take the stage and call on TED audience members to join him in some incredible improvisation.

The one and only Bobby McFerrin unleashing his improvisational magic.

Image credit: James Duncan Davidson / TED

Improvisation isn’t about music or talent. It’s about doing what you do and keeping on going.” ~ Bobby McFerrin

Carlo Ratti of MIT’s SENSEable City Lab made a compelling case for using digital tools to better understand and engage with cities. He spotlighted the brilliant Trash Track project, which we’ve raved about before.

Cities account for 2% of the land’s surface, 50% of its population, 75% of its energy production and 80% of its carbon emissions.” ~ Carlo Ratti

Ratti proceeded to demo MIT’s stunningly futuristic FlyFire swarm of bioluminescent robotic mini-helicopters. By the end of the year, Ratti expects to have a working cloud of these “flying pixels.”

We were thrilled to see our friend Aaron Koblin, wildly talented visual artist and data visualization mastermind, finally take the TED stage and showcase some of his brilliant projects, including The Sheep Market, an early creative project using crowdsourcing long before crowdsourcing was a buzzword, Bicycle Built for 2000, an audio-visual collage of 2,088 voice recordings stitched together to sing the iconic “Daisy Bell” HAL song, and The Johnny Cash Project, a mesmerizing global collaborative “resurrection” music video for the legendary artist’s final studio recording.

Data viz wunderkind Aaron Koblin, an authentic geek-rockstar.

Image credit: James Duncan Davidson / TED

The day wrapped up with the announcement of TEDED, an ambitious new effort focusing on global education, currently seeking educators, filmmakers and other creative professionals to contribute to the TEDED Brain Trust.

Keep an eye on our live Twitter coverage and come back here tomorrow evening for highlights from Day Two.

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