TED Conversations

Lars Jan
  • Lars Jan
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • United States

Artistic Director / Founder, Early Morning Opera


This conversation is closed.

How can creatives use new technologies to increase empathy across cultural and geographic distances?

I'm fascinated by how people feel close to one another and how the answers to that question are evolving.

Live TED Conversation: Join TED Fellow Lars Jan

Lars is a media artist and founder of Early Morning Opera, a multidisciplinary art lab creating works about "America right now."

This conversation will open at 1:00PM ET on November 18th


Closing Statement from Lars Jan

THANK YOU ALL CONTRIBUTORS ! Lots of insight, passion and bunch of new threads to follow. I think the conversation veered towards empathy as relates to how we experience the world via the web, which seems like the trunk of this conversation. I'm also curious about what other branches will evolve — comments about universal translation and the future of gaming sparked my imagination in particular.

Benedict Anderson calls nations 'imagined communities.' We are pretty successful at imagining our affiliation with 300 million other folks, and that was the case well before the web and other social tools emerged. I'm constantly wondering about how we might expand that number to about 7 billion. 300 million and 7 billion both feel like infinity, at least to me. So I'm essentially imagining the same thing anyway.

Looking forward to connecting with you again, in thought or person as the case may be, somewhere down the line. Thanks again for sharing your passion! Onwards and upwards...

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    Nov 18 2011: What other technologies, other than video, would you consider using in your art to meet the goal of inspiring empathy across cultural boundaries? (I'm an aspiring documentarian, struggling artist-poet-writer, and all around creative who seeks to use my passions to promote social change and hopefully engage other artists in using their work to change the world)
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      Nov 18 2011: good question. I definitely come at this first from considering how new communication technologies are expanding our abilities to see ± feel so-called distant lands. So, while we had news reels bring us the war and/or protests in the 40s, TV in the 60s + 70s, and now youtube, or livestream today... the evolution in question is really one of the moving image.

      But something like Usha Hidi, that let's one track disaster reports from individuals as the crisis unfolds, is a much more dispersed way of tracking individual experiences.

      I think beyond video, new places and ways to share comments and ideas — blogs, sites, apps — are extremely revolutionary in terms of how the global community has a conversation.
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        Nov 18 2011: Are there other definitions of new technology that an artist can use? Can online forums be better designed to enhance collaboration and cross cultural conversations? What about Joseph Gordon Levitt's project that is completely collaborative: http://www.hitrecord.org/
    • Nov 18 2011: Anything and everything.
      Images, Proses, one liners.
      Carefully making information easily digestible in a simple para.

      Everything is a step forward, no matter how small.
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        Nov 18 2011: Yes, those are all great, but with the development of new technology, how can you disperse those forms of media in a world where communication is so much easier than it used to be?
        • Nov 18 2011: I feel they all are easily distributable. One liners and images on social media provides more information [to me] since it is less time consuming.
          < I am not sure if I am understanding the question or problem correctly >
    • Nov 18 2011: other technologies? i would say that media that can somehow resemble or enhance actual presential dialogue have the best chances. And another important level is that of cultural bias, the technology should establish something close to an etiquette or common code.
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        Nov 18 2011: have you seen any attempt out there at defining the terms of this etiquette? this is fun, though not exactly what we're talking about: http://eetiquette.com/
        • Nov 18 2011: yes "etiquette" sounds like funny and stiff. I meant common codes... but to me the overall basis is to set common goals as an incentive for empathy in cross cultural interaction, such as a common task or interest that can even be playful. Empathy grows when we drop our guard, i think.

          About virtual body language, that is an ambitious concept. I bring it up because the closer you can get to a real conversation, there is more room for empathy.

          When the head up for this came up in facebook, i expected a video. The fact that it turned put to be this forum, a public space made it more interesting, more 2.0 if you will, as long as we all know english of course. I registered ad hoc and have not uploade a picture, and am aware that showing a human face naturally enhances closeness, if we could add gesturing to this the "relational quality" would be even better.

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