We are out of Volkstheater – It was a blast! Yesterday the TEDxVienna event “OUT THERE” took place at the Volkstheater. Réka Artner und Vlad Gozman took attendees on a journey of ideas.
>3000 livestream viewers
862 #TEDxVienna tweets
100 conversations with the TEDxVienna Idea Bot
11 satellite events in 3 cities
One human attribute is curiosity – to discover what is out there and how it actually works. There is a plethora of ways to do so. For example Martha Cooper documented Graffitis in NYC and so did not only discover a subculture but also influenced the course of HipHop culture with her photo book Subway Art. It was especially influential in bringing Graffiti to Europe (remember pre-Internet time!). Outer space is for science a vastly unexplored space, like naked walls are a canvas for Graffiti. Katherine Freese rocked the boat with the fact, that the universe is made of only 5% “normal” matter, but 95% dark matter. “Dark” was the key word for Holley Moyes, who spent more than an average person in the dark, namely in caves. Being an archeologist, she has been studying the effects of darkness on the mind to understand the cultural role caves have played in human history. Her study shows that people confronted with questions in the dark tend, to pick more imaginary answers than during daylight exposure. Thus, caves and their darkness most likely played a crucial role in unfolding imagination in human history.
Ronald Mallett informed us of nothing less than that time travels are possible. Yep, you heard right! They are theoretically possible, we are just not yet able to produce the necessary energy. But Ronald warned us that due to the many-worlds interpretation you are going on a journey to the future or past without a return ticket – you end up in a parallel universe. With exploring new places and their potential commercialisation, there undoubtedly come risks. But who is actually taking care of them? Politics? Well, as we learned from space lawyer Frans van der Dunk, there are- if any- very confusing space laws in Europe. Is a space shuttle with wings an aircraft? Is outer space 100 or 1000 km above the ground?
Put yourself OUT THERE
Well, we put speaker Eugene Quinn out there. Walking live into the Volkstheater while giving his talk, underlined his advocacy for walking through a city. He organises walks through Vienna to analyse the city in a different way by walking (e.g. Smell like Wien Spirit tour). But not only physical activity changes perception. Graham Shaw, a communication expert, convinced the audience that vision learning is a tremendously powerful tool by showing that everyone in Volkstheater cannot only draw but improve their memory by doing so. This astonishing session was full of “Wow” and “Oh” sounds as snowboarder Jamie Barrow shared with us his willpower to overcome his severe injury and we met the youngest scholar of the University of Oxford Josuah Beckford reciting his poem. Session two had actually two Harrys. On stage the mentalist Harry Lucas tapped into the mind of randomly picked attendees and recalled their telephone number or last vacation location, while Harry Baker’s loose tongue impressed us with the Falafelloeffel poem and told us the pitfalls and wonders of learning a new language.
Create OUT THERE
We all fall into the trap of seeing the world in stereotypes. One occupation especially makes use of this mind trap – magicians like Kyle Eschen exploit these cognitive blindspots shamelessly to blow our minds. Or as Kyle explained to us “As a magician, it’s my job to confuse you. It’s my job to make you filter out the wrong things.” What evolution has invented as protection mechanism, is somewhat unhandy when it comes to creativity. Programmer Hannah Davis indeed showed us what it means to gain a new angle on a subject. She created the algorithm TransProse, that systematically translates text into music by using a lexicon with words connected to emotional tags. Here you can also listen to a U.S. presidential debate between Clinton and Trump converted into music. Not too hard to guess which one is Trump… Marcello Schermer drew our attention to another misconception: Africa can learn from the West. He explained that this is not necessarily true by the example of the booming and flourishing startup culture. As Mark Zuckerberg said: “The future will be built in Africa.” Children are often resistent to this unintentional blindness. Designer Dominic Wilcox takes the ideas of kids seriously and he is convinced, children are the inventors of the future. Wilcox showed us results of inventions from children he works with in his project “INVENTORS!”: a high-five machine, umbrellas for ladybugs or a family scooter. The best example for a little inventor was our 14 years old speaker Jacob Smilg, who invented a device to communicate with his friend Ethan, who was struck by a lightning.
Change OUT THERE
— Peter Steinberger (@steipete) October 22, 2016
Out there are not only scientific revolutions going on. We are in need of cultural and societal changes to ensure mutual respect and peaceful living together. Julia Ebner, from the first counter extremism think tank Quilliam, showed us the tremendous parallels of far right and Islamic extremists. The usage of similar methods and thus their unintentional cooperation makes both ideology highly attractive to many people. “Islamic extremists say ‘the West is at war with Islam and the far right says ‘Islam is at war with the West”, said Julia Ebner. Both opinions fit and do not argue against each other, but the perspective is different. Julia argued further that if we share stories, then the agonist of the narrative should not be human. It should rather be a global challenge. This would circumvent the amplification of mutual stirring up. Two women wrapped up the event by showing us that the attitude to a subject counts and impacts the people around us.
The investigative journalist Carrie Poppy investigates the paranormal. She debunked numerous hokuspokus superstitions. But still she urges to take peoples’ believes seriously as for them they appear real and therefore do exist. The cause of this mysterious incidence can be debated and investigated though. Mortician Caitlin Doughty made death her life. Before death was outsourced to companies, home wakes were common and the family took time to say goodbye to a loved one. Nowadays, this has been taken out the hand of the family. Professional funeral companies shuffle out the dead bodies as if “death would be an emergency”. In our modern society the thought of death evokes anxiety. Caitlin advocates to make death a part of your life as it is a natural part of it.
Videos of each talk will be provided on our youtube channel in the near future!
Thanks to all attendees, speakers, partners, sponsors, team members, volunteers and exhibitors for making it such a special day!
And we hope that everyone found something they like in their goodie bag 🙂
— Robert Glashüttner (@glashuettner) October 22, 2016