What fills us with awe: TEDxJISLive 2019 highlights

“Our work endures in memories,” said stage designer Es Devlin, “in synaptic sculptures in the minds of those who were once present in the audience.”

The designer spoke during Session 11 of TED 2019, the session featured at TEDxJISLive on April 27. For the audience present, all the talks were memorable. The speakers and performers evoked a sense of wonder, connecting sand art with trapeze artistry, vocal loops with galaxy maps, and more.

What’s bigger than us? What inspires awe in us? The theme of TED 2019, “Bigger Than Us,” explored questions like these. As captured in this video, we wrote down soundbites from each talk to take away and mull over:

The soundtrack to the video is the “vocal loop” music of Richard Bona, which he performed in the session. Neuroscientist Beau Lotto got us to stand up and conduct a classical-music excerpt — and to commiserate when technical difficulties plagued his talk and he had to think on his feet to keep the audience entertained. (The webcast stalled at one point too when TED’s servers went down, but only for a minute, luckily.)

Jon Gray’s Ghetto Gastro, Daniel Lismore’s life as a work of art, Juna Kollmeier’s ambition to map every large galaxy by 2060 — all these varied talks kept us entertained. As actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt suggests, the speakers are creative because they make a habit of paying attention to the world around them. This is what makes us pay attention to their ideas.

You can read more about Session 11: Wonder on the TED Blog.

The first session of TED 2019 had opened with a performance by spoken-word poet Sarah Kay, which we also watched because Sarah has a meaningful connection with JIS. Three years ago, she conducted workshops at the Middle School that coincided with a terrifying incident, which became so seared in her memory that she finally wrote about it. The poem, published two months ago on the Academy of American Poets website, is titled “Jakarta, January.” This connection really was awesome.

This Live event was the last TEDxJIS event. Thanks to all the attendees over the past five years who have shared these ideas worth spreading with us! We hope they will endure in your memory.

You can view all the photos on Flickr.

Featured image: Attendees conducted Richard Strauss’s “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” during Beau Lotto’s talk. (Photo by Yunori Sarah)
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