TEDx Vienna (part 2)

We are back again at TEDx Vienna at the Volkstheater. I covered the first half here so now we are on to the second half.


After the break we started with the third part of the day called “Design your space”. The first talk was from Carissa Bub about “Luminaries – the new agents of change”. I was not sure what to expect from this talk, from the title alone it could have been anything from a new face cream to something about the stars. It turned out to be about how to recognize the ideal manager. How we need interdependence instead of independence at the work place and that the power needs to be shared. I am not sure if I render it correctly, it’s already a while ago and it didn’t make a lot of sense in the first place. Or it made sense and was nothing new…

Also the next two speakers, Chris Dancy and Stephen D. Larson were a bit much for me. The first one I just couldn’t get, in the sense of “Why does he want to stay online all the time” and the latter one made sense but just didn’t get his message across to me. Digital biology is still Greek to me. So sorry…

On to speaker number four. Stuart Armstrong was finally again a crowd pleaser and not only because he was the first speaker in this block that made sure that nobody fell asleep. He talked about “Why aim for the stars when the galaxies are just as easy”. Looking back now, I couldn’t explain you one detail about what he said, but I still remember him loud and clear. His message was that if we as human race survive then we can do it. Go to other galaxies I mean.

And he made sense while he was talking because the moment it became really complicated like a numbers to the power of 10 or so, he just said “this is a really large number”. He put it all into perspective so everybody could follow him. But since this topic is not a child’s play I cannot tell you more. But the future looks bright if we survive. At least I think that’s what he meant.


Whoever was not awake from the talk before, woke up now. Stelarc is a performance artist who talked about alternative anatomical architectures. It was not so much about what he talked than what he showed during his speech. Pictures of himself suspended from a ceiling attached to hooks which had been driven through his skin. The collective groan that went through the audience was a good indicator of the unpleasantness of what we saw.


I know the guy is naked on the picture but that groan I heard was definitely not coming from pleasure. It got even worse when he showed us his “ear”.


Still not sure what you are seeing? Want to take a closer look? Cat actually looked even closer. When we saw him later at the after-party she seized her chance and asked to see it again.


I think he said something about connecting the “ear” to the internet, so in the future you will be able to talk to him via his arm. Just writing about it seems crazy. Anyway, this was block three and then we were on our last break.

Due to the “ear” shock we all needed a beer to recuperate our wits again. Personally I was grossed out and didn’t take a closer look when we met him later. But to each his own.
We changed seats again to get a new perspective for the last part and ended up on the second balcony.


Part four didn’t disappoint, starting right away with another great talk. Erika Lust is a Swedish film director who specialized in erotic films. It was really funny listening to her how she got into the erotic sector. And while porn has to stay dirty according to her, it doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be any pleasure for the women in it. Great to have a pioneer in feminist pornography. And in case you were wondering, she didn’t need to show any pictures during her talk. It was graphic enough.


Tim Fricke was next up, talking about flying an airplane without hands meaning you control it with your brain. And this is the way it looks.


And it actually works, they already landed a plane this way safely. The talk was very interesting because the technology behind is amazing, just the delivery of the speech could be improved.

Then on to Joan Nichols who talked about bioengineered lungs. Not only were her results breath-taking but also the lung stripped off everything except collagen and elastin. Looks weird when it’s not pink more like a chicken breast. Not that I see fresh lungs on a regular basis. Sorry no picture but click here.

And finally the last speaker, Rafael Hostettler who talked about Roboy. A robot inspired by nature. But for me it was more inspired by Wall-E the Disney/Pixar movie. Wall-e’s girlfriend Eve looks almost the same.


It was already late and my attention span for the day exhausted. One can only take so much in during twelve hours. We left before the last performance, a surprise show of dancing illuminated robots (I think) and had a beer instead. Definitely the better choice. I pocketed a couple of apples that were offered and am glad I did so (ok Christine did it for me, thank you again!!). Enough to have one for each day this week and they were sublime! Super tasty and crunchy.

But let’s get back to TEDx Vienna again to finally close this chapter. It was lovely that I had the chance to go and see it again. It is live a bit different from seeing the talks online. Online you can choose and watch everything according to your taste while live you have to accept the taste of the organizer. Still, I can only recommend attending a TEDx event, for me it was a day well spent!
Yours, Pollybert

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