It's a beautiful, cool morning in Palm Springs and people seem very energized and perhaps a tad wary about the amount of information we are all about to take in.
Oliver Sacks, famed neurologist and author of books such as Awakenings and Musicology, starts us off. He began with the observation that we see with both our eyes and our brains, and when we see with our brains, we often call it imagination. We are all familiar with the landscape of our own imagination. But when we have hallucinations, our brains are showing us the unfamiliar in a way that mimics perception in a way that seems real. "You're seeing a film that has nothing to do with you."
He says about 10% of blind people have visual hallucinations and 10% of deaf people have auditory hallucinations, but perhaps hundreds of thousands of them are too afraid to tell anyone about them.
He admits that he has blindness in one eye and impairment in the other and experiences geometric hallucinations. He wonders if ornamental or cave art were derived from such visions.
In between the many 18-minute speakers there are a number of 3-minute speakers. To me, it seems they are offering glimpses of the headlines we'll be seeing in the coming years. JoAnn Kuchera-Morin
is a great example of this. She brings us news of her project, Allosphere - 20 researchers can stand inside the sphere and be immersed in their data. Imagine if a research could stand inside an atom and watch the particles spin. Imagine flying into the brain as if it were a world, with blood density heard as music.
Astounding - they can represent quantum flow visually and audibly - a single electron's motion in a way we've never experienced before, joining math, science and art in new ways.
I wonder what would happen if they mapped my brain right now - it is certainly spinning like crazy trying to keep up with the projects she just introduced us to!
Dale Chihuly talks and shows a bit about his beautiful glass art. I'm astounded by his art - having tried glass blowing, I can attest that it is hard to do!
Working on a project called Life in Space. He's framing what we see not as taking in, but as a dialogue between the world and the brain. He's exploring the shifting boundaries of creation and experience of creation - who is the producer, and how is does the perception add to the production?
EVP of Production at Digital Domain, the company responsible for visual effects from films such as Titanic and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. "What you might not know, for the first hour, Benjamin Button is completely CGI from the neck up." I didn't know this was based on an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story...I'll have to read that.
"The human head has been considered the holy grail of our industry"
The human head has been considered the holy grail of our industry. David Fincher wanted Benjamin Button to be played start to end by one actor. So they generated Brad Pitt's head at various ages and married it to the body of various actors of different sizes who did the live action. Exceedingly difficult as it is, right? Add in the little fact that Brad Pitt is extremely recognizable, meaning there would be little tolerance for visual error.
The state of motion capture technology was great but nowhere near what they needed, so they walked away from it and began creating "technology stew" - different techniques from gaming, medical imaging, etc. and appropriated them. Called the entire process Emotion Capture.
I wonder what Brad Pitt thinks about the projections of how he will look at age 80 - it will be fascinating to see how well Rick Baker and the other artists predicted his aging.
Culture of Availability - rise of availability driven by mobile device proliferation across the globe and societal levels, increasing the expectation of availabilty. There's a huge difference between what is socially acceptable and what we actually do.
The Lean, The Stretch - various images of people surreptiously using their mobile devices in social settings. Hilarious stuff - hopefully others captured some images of them. Check out Flickr for TED2009 tagged images.
"Nothing says 'I love you' like 'let me find someone else I give a damn about.'"
The real need is creating shared narratives -
"Our reality now is less interesting than the story we will tell about it later."
What you share becomes the context within which we live. We aren't simply projecting identity, we are creating it."
Request - we are creating technoligy that will create a new world. Please make technologies that make people more human, not less. (these requests carry interesting weight because they are made to an audience that can truly impact those technologies)
Where is 'art' inthe iPhone app store?
"The mouse is the narrowest straw through which you could try to suck all of human expression thru"
Cognitive psychologists have mapped out the shapes and planes we associate with sounds. He created a project to map this backward - Re-Mark (?) - a program takes speech and renders it as shape in real time.
Snout - an 8-foot "snout" with a googly eye. Inside is a robotic arm "that I borrowed from a friend." The idea is "to make a robot that seems continually surprised to see you."
See more about his projects at www.flong.com