But can emerging science and technology defeat loneliness? How will interhuman relationships evolve in this context? Are we seeing the collapse of the institution of marriage? Is the potential for sexual education still unexplored? How is our psyche responding to all these changes? Can we find real intimacy amid shifting identities and permanent surveillance?
On Friday the TEDxViennaSalon event “The future of intimacy” bravely tackled these questions at the MAK in Vienna.
A culinary journey provided by the refugee project Topfreisen
Interactive experiences (a whole new meaning of this term in the context of intimacy :P)
5 things from the TEDxVienna “Future of intimacy” worth sharing:
1. Let’s talk about sex
What could go less hand-in-hand than the topics sex & intimacy to get to know new people at a TEDxVienna event? WRONG! Apparently I underestimated our openness and willingness to share intimate bits and pieces of our lives. Everyone was even more excited than at the usual conferences to test the interactive experiences, spanning from OMGYes demystifying women’s sexual pleasure for visitors via touchscreen simulations and feedback to VR experiences presented by VREI.
2. Sex education is more than just the technical details
As we heard from sex educator Yana Tallon-Hicks, teens learn about sex from porn and for them the perception of sex mostly equals penis-vagina penetration. However, she argues that what we don’t learn from porn is how we talk about sexual pleasure. She strongly believes we need to develop an ability to openly discuss sexual desires with teens. Finding a voice to express oneself should also help to convey the most important part of any intimate relationship: Consent!
“Teach your young person about consent. Teach them the words to know how to practice it.” Yana Tallon-Hicks.
3. The globalisation of love as a chance to make a better world
Globalisation has its romantic sides too! Nowadays, 18% of new marriages in Vienna are multicultural. The globalisation of love (GloLo) is more than food compromises and overcoming language barriers. Author Wendy Williams told us that many things fundamental to life and death, like sex, religion and traditions bring along with them potential arguments. Yet, these disputes about our differences will lead to a better world, she argues. Why? It is because of the little ones. GloLo children inadvertently become ambassadors of world peace by seeing their parents accepting cultural differences and recognising that we are actually more alike than different.
4. Technology overcomes distance
Globalisation does not only bring people from different regions of the world together but also separates them. The constant demand to follow your job, education and dreams to all corners of the planet is not always compatible with relationships and one has to make a long distance relationship work. Human contact might still be preferred, but technical assistance can ease the pain of separation and lust for intimacy. For this reason MIT research Dan Chen makes friendly robots: Friend 1 comforts you while you work. Friend 2 sits on your shoulder and gently touches you. Friend 3 makes eye contact with you. Friend 4 lets you cuddle it. Friend 5 holds your hand. The teledildonics pioneer Toon Timmermans from Kiiroo presented his sex devices that allow 2 or more people to experience real-time physical interaction via the internet.
For those who are not (yet?) willing to let technology invade their private intimate space Amy Adele introduced the audience to sexting, messaging sexual content. Researching this topic since 2008, she shared experiences and rules of sexting with us.
Sexting tip: Men are advised not to show their penises, and women are advised not to show their faces.
5. Create safe spaces to cope with relationship conflicts
Psychoanalyst Himanshu Giri shared with us his personal insight on human relationships based on his work with people from diverse cultural backgrounds who have difficulties with intimate relationships. He explained that in problematic relationships people feel doomed to repeat their patterns over and over again. We create these patterns for ourselves in order to create safe spaces to run to when needed. He advocates for safe environments as they helps us to dive into our past and get in touch with the emotions we experience during unpleasant situations.
All talks will be soon available online! Hard to grasp in a blog post and thus highly recommended viewing is the dance performance from Sharon Booth, creative director of body>data>space and Ghislaine Boddington’s talk showing her wonderful installation and projects!
We thank all attendees, exhibitors, sponsors, speakers and volunteers for making it such a great event and sharing intimate information with all of us!
See you soon!
more photos here!
Thanks to our wonderful photographers: Michael Janousek, TJ Alshemaeree, Thomas Suchanek, Philipp Schwartz, Natalia Sander