Watching TED videos in preparation for TEDxNASA Wednesday, I can quickly feel myself turning into a knowledge junkie. It’s actually really exciting though, and quite seductive. Fifteen minutes per idea, four ideas an hour, if you can muster the attention to sit still, you can watch the universe unfold before you.
Three Ideas and One Digression
Three ideas really stuck with me today, but before I start, I want to think a little about captivating ideas in general. Sometimes I feel that TED is just the start of a new wave of idea-virus propagation. Look at what gives us drive as human beings, how people describe their ideas as Something that grabs hold of them, unrelinquishingly, until they have either accomplished or disproved it. Ideas as the medium of information exchange- forget DNA- but what makes an idea so powerful? What describes the nature of its hold?
An idea is sometimes powerful because it opens a new dimension/perspective on how to see things. In this case, the idea is a combination of two different things, two different concepts overlayed on top of one another to synthesize another concept. Other times, we embrace an idea because it is “cool,” because our culture tells us that is socially positive to devote time to innovation.
But for most of us, we make new things because things currently in the world are broken. There is pain, in the world- and the objective of the idea, and energies of the idea, is to heal the pain. Necessity, is the mother of innovation. Not coolness, not metaphorical binoculars.
But two out of the three ideas today are related to music/arts, and only one is related to pain. An idea is also interesting when it introduces possibilites, when it opens up new capabilities in the world, and fire the human imagination. That’s also an important, though oft overlooked motivator- the human imagination is a frivilous being, who is delighted by any chance to frolic in new fields. Hearing about a cool new idea is akin to annexing a new scope of territory, and my imagination darts forward in eager anticipation to run through its contours. Maps of ideas- and how they form..
Alright, now back to the three ideas.
Single Source Temporal Iteration
Maya Beiser, cellist, records seven copies of her self playing different parts of an eight person etude, and performs onstage. You’ve probably seen this idea before, either by one-man-bands who record their music, or in the form of video games (the Japanese Cursor 10 game, Kongregate’s In the Company of Myself). All of them come back to the same idea, of using technology’s high fidelity recording to increase the scope of one’s ability to iterate different things to spin a complex narrattive from, as Maya says, a single source.
You can do anything, just not at the same time. A recurring theme, as we will see.
But to finish first on Maya, SSTI is the coolest at the moment of release, when one opens the floodgates of temporally seperated loops to deliver a multisensory stream of experience belieing the repetitve iterations done in preparation.
The next performance also uses SSTI, but the focus is on another technology rather than a mode of delivery. Beatjazz, invented by Onyx Ashanti, is a style of electronic music composed improptu using hand held controllers, a mouthpiece, and a phone. But the thing that captured my attention was the linking between music and movement. Though Onyx was using buttons on his controllers to initiate sound generation, the position at which he held his arms also affected the tone, pitch, instrument. The natural expansion is a full body motion suit, with sensors to record appropriate signals, and then translate kinematics to signals to acoustics. And so one way we can more fully utilize our sensory organs is to be able to assign everyone a musical signature, as a compilation of all of the idiosyncratic quirks of one’s movement. A new type of performers, who integrate body movement with music, instead of traditional choreography in which we plan to music.
Work Life Balance. In search of work life balance, I will postpone this writing to tomorrow, and get some sleep early (went to bed far too late last night) 🙂
Today: Gave an icebreakers speech at Toastmasters today, won best speech award 😀