In Brief

Reggie Watts’ virtual reality dance party and more TED news


The TED community is busy with new projects and news — below, some highlights.

A virtual reality dance party at Sundance. Musician and comedian Reggie Watts and artist Kiira Benzing debuted their new project “Runnin’” at the Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontier exhibit. “Runnin’” is an “immersive, interactive music video” backed with a hypnotic techno beat by Wajatta (the musical duo of Watts and composer John Tejada). The project welcomes players into a “retro-future world,” coupling VR technology and the magic of dance into an experience of pure creativity. In an interview with the Sundance Institute, Watts said, “I always wanted Wajatta to be able to create videos that really embody the music in a fun way.” Check out the artist feature for a sneak peek at the visuals for the project and listen to a live performance of “Runnin’.” At the New Frontier exhibit, Nonny de la Peña also premiered a virtual reality photo booth and data artists Chris Milk and Aaron Koblin contributed to a project called “Emergence”. (Watch Watts’ TED Talk, de la Peña’s TED Talk, Milk’s TED Talk and Kobin’s TED Talk.)

Global science commission urges radical, planet-wide diet. The EAT-Lancet Commission, co-chaired by sustainability expert Johan Rockström and scientist Walter Willett, released a new report on the state of food production, environmental degradation and global sustainability. The commission, which is composed of 37 leading scientists from around the world, warns of serious consequences to current consumption patterns and offers a newly designed “planetary health diet” to help accelerate a “radical transformation of the global food system.” According to the report summary, the dietary shift will require doubling the consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts globally — and reducing sugar and red meat consumption by more than half. “To have any chance of feeding 10 billion people in 2050 within planetary boundaries, we must adopt a healthy diet, slash food waste and invest in technologies that reduce environmental impacts,” said Rockström in an interview with AFP. (Watch Rockström’s TED Talk.)

#WeKnowYouCare campaign launches. Advocacy organization Caring Across Generations, co-directed by activist Ai-jen Poo, launched its latest campaign, #WeKnowYouCare, which celebrates the 16 million men who act as caregivers for their families in America. By sharing video narratives from male caregivers, the campaign aims to highlight nuanced stories of masculinity and address why men who caregive are particularly vulnerable to isolation and lack of support. “Men were actually really quite harmed by the gender norms related to caregiving, in that it’s harder for them to ask for help, it’s harder for them to actually get the support that they need to do what is a very emotionally challenging — and otherwise [difficult] — thing to do,” said Poo in an interview with Bustle. (Watch Poo’s TED Talk.)

The hidden meanings of laughter. Neuroscientist Sophie Scott dives deep into the wonder of laughter on an episode of NPR’s Hidden Brain podcast; alongside host Shankar Vedantam, Scott discusses the animal kingdom, social bonds and the bizarre and beautiful science behind laughter. “Wherever you go in the world, you’ll encounter laughter. It has at its heart the same meaning. It’s very truthful, and it’s telling you something very positive. And that’s always a sort of wonderful thing to encounter,” she said. (Listen to the full episode.) (Watch Scott’s TED Talk.)

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