TEDIndia Session 9: Within You, Without You

Posted by: Matthew Trost


“Within You, Without You,” the final session of TEDIndia, rings in with a drumbeat — the rich, propulsive stylings of Sivamani. He combines the sounds of a variety of percussive instruments with a recurring motif: water. Dipping instruments in water as he plays them, the instruments take on the character of the life-giving substance that all living things on Earth share. Sivamani’s homepage >>

Alwar Balasubramaniam, a sculptor, painter and printmaker, is fascinated by the transition from the present to the future, the traces that entities leave behind as they pass through time. Through art that is part performance, part sculpture, he explores the possibilities that emerge from these transitions and self-discoveries. He uses plaster and other materials to capture traces such as a fingerprint, the path of the sun through the sky, flames … and the human face. But how real are these traces? His work highlights how subjective, context-driven all experience is. The mind creates meaning; meaning isn’t independent of it. He shows artwork that is designed to decay over time — a bust made of semi-solid material that melts, slowly losing value as time goes on. A later sculpture captures the inverse — attempting to create “something from nothing” by growing more substance as time passes. His later works explore perception, the substance of unseen things such as electricity, magnetism, light. Read about Alwar Balasubramaniam on Sculpture.org >>

Shashi Tharoor, member of Parliament and the Indian minister of state for external affairs, says, “The future beckons — but which direction?” What constitutes a nation classified as a world leader? He suggests the answer is not just population, nuclear capacity, economy, but the power of example, or a country’s ability to attract others. To have “soft power,” you have to be connected. India is well-connected now, but telephones were once rare. What’s striking, today, is who’s carrying cell-phones: people without contact with other contemporary technologies, people such as fisherman, farmers. Meanwhile, India is exporting its culture (food, film) to the whole world — not just the US and UK. “The Empire strikes back,” he says. “We’ve gone from the image of India as a land of fakirs to a land of mathematical geniuses and software gurus.” He says the country that tells the best stories will be the country that leads the world. In a diverse, plural democracy like India, you don’t have to agree all the time; you just have to agree on the ground-rules about how to disagree. That is the India that is emerging. Shashi Tharoor’s homepage >>

Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, a revered figure in Tibetan Buddhism, tells the story of his life, his recognition as the Karmapa, and the important process of finding heart-to-heart connections with other human beings. He urges us to shift our motivation to be more sincere and genuinely positive — to work on not just technology and design, but the technology and design of the heart. Homepage of H.H. 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje >>

So concludes TEDIndia. We hope you’ve enjoyed our coverage here on the TED Blog and on our TEDIndia Twitter feed. Look for TEDTalks from TEDIndia to appear on TED.com in the coming weeks. Namaste.

Photo: TED / James Duncan Davidson