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Playlist: Objects of desire

8 talks · 1h 52m · Curated by TED

Objects of desire (8 talks)

An iconic painting. An ancient manuscript. A cylinder with 2600 years of history. Learn about artifacts and images that have intrigued humans for centuries, and why we find them so alluring.

  • 1.
    15:33
    Now playing
    TED collaborates with animator Andrew Park to illustrate Denis Dutton's provocative theory on beauty — that art, music and other beautiful things, far from being simply "in the eye of the beholder," are a core part of human nature with deep evolutionary origins.
  • 2.
    14:53
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    How do you read a two-thousand-year-old manuscript that has been erased, cut up, written on and painted over? With a powerful particle accelerator, of course! Ancient books curator William Noel tells the fascinating story behind the Archimedes palimpsest, a Byzantine prayer book containing previously-unknown original writings from ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes and others.
  • 3.
    12:34
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    Art history is far from set in stone. Engineer Maurizio Seracini spent 30 years searching for Leonardo da Vinci’s lost fresco “The Battle of Anghiari,” and in the process discovered that many paintings have layers of history hidden underneath. Should they be part of the viewing experience too?
  • 4.
    4:24
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    Mona Lisa is one of the best-known faces on the planet. But would you recognize an image of Leonardo da Vinci? Illustrator Siegfried Woldhek uses some thoughtful image-analysis techniques to find what he believes is the true face of Leonardo.
  • 5.
    19:37
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    A clay cylinder covered in Akkadian cuneiform script, damaged and broken, the Cyrus Cylinder is a powerful symbol of religious tolerance and multi-culturalism. In this enthralling talk Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, traces 2600 years of Middle Eastern history through this single object.
  • 6.
    15:57
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    Ursus Wehrli shares his vision for a cleaner, more organized, tidier form of art — by deconstructing the paintings of modern masters into their component pieces, sorted by color and size.
  • 7.
    16:17
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    Why do we like an original painting better than a forgery? Psychologist Paul Bloom argues that human beings are essentialists — that our beliefs about the history of an object change how we experience it, not simply as an illusion, but as a deep feature of what pleasure (and pain) is.
  • 8.
    13:11
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    Luke Syson was a curator of Renaissance art, of transcendent paintings of saints and solemn Italian ladies — serious art. And then he changed jobs, and inherited the Met's collection of ceramics — pretty, frilly, "useless" candlesticks and vases. He didn't like it. He didn't get it. Until one day … (Filmed at TEDxMet.)