Daily Archives: October 17, 2009

David Hoffman shares his Sputnik mania

About this talk

Filmmaker David Hoffman shares footage from his feature-length documentary Sputnik Mania, which shows how the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik in 1957 led to both the space race and the arms race — and jump-started science and math education around the world.

About David Hoffman

In David Hoffman’s long film career, he’s made documentaries on everything from Amelia Earhardt to B.B. King, from double-dutch jump-roping to F-15 fighter pilots.

Lately, he has become fascinated with the Atomic-era Space Race, turning out a feature-length documentary about the Sputnik era. Sputnik Mania was scored by Thomas Dolby and has played at festivals and theaters around the country.

Documentary filmmaker David Hoffman has been capturing reality for almost 4 decades, following his wide-ranging interests and turning them into films for PBS, The Discovery Channel, A&E, National Geographic. Highlights from his career include the groundbreaking experimental doc King, Murray, which blurred boundaries between truth and fiction as it tracks its subject through a debauched weekend in Las Vegas; A Day With Filmmaker Timmy Page, about a 12-year-old auteur; and his series of films on American indigenous music.

Hoffman suffered a devastating setback in early 2008 when, nine days before TED2008, his home, containing a vast archive from his long and fascinating career, burnt to the ground. His next project: to reframe his life and rebuild.

“I have often tried to understand how David does what he does. After observation, it becomes glaringly simple. He listens! I mean; he really listens, to people and situations.”

Alberto Aquino Alejandro, co-founder, Helio Solut

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David Carson on design + discovery

About this talk

Great design is a never-ending journey of discovery — for which it helps to pack a healthy sense of humor. Sociologist and surfer-turned-designer David Carson walks through a gorgeous (and often quite funny) slide deck of his work and found images.

About David Carson

David Carson is the “grunge typographer” whose magazine Ray Gun helped explode the possibilities of text on a page.

David Carson’s boundary-breaking typography in the 1990s, in Ray Gun magazine and other pop-cult books, ushered in a new vision of type and page design — quite simply, breaking the traditional mold of type on a page and demanding fresh eyes from the reader. Squishing, smashing, slanting and enchanting the words on a layout, Carson made the point, over and over, that letters on a page are art. You can see the repercussions of his work to this day, on a million Flash intro pages (and probably just as many skateboards and T-shirts).

His first book, with Lewis Blackwell and a foreword by David Byrne, is The End of Print, and he’s written or collaborated on several others, including the magisterial Book of Probes, an exploration of the thinking of Marshall McLuhan. His latest book is Trek, a collection of his recent work.


Alison Jackson looks at celebrity

About this talk

By making photographs that seem to show our favorite celebs (Diana, Elton John) doing what we really, secretly, want to see them doing, Alison Jackson explores our desire to get personal with celebs. Contains graphic images.

About Alison Jackson

Why can’t you make it through the checkout line without flipping through page after page of pregnant celebs in Us magazine? Alison Jackson knows why.

Recognizing the deep-seated need of the world public to see the Queen mum seated at the toilet, Elton John getting a colonic, and Keith Richards ironing his knickers, Alison Jackson set out to create the images that we really want paparazzi to capture. Armed with cheap photographic equipment, celebrity look-alikes, and a canny sense of what we think people are doing when we’re not looking, she creates images that are equal parts belly laughs and pure scandal.

Jackson’s newest book, Alison Jackson: Confidential features over 300 of her images in outrageous succession. She is also the auteur behind the popular BBC series “Double Take,” which focuses on the (fake) outrageous behavior of dozens of popular British political, entertainment, and sports figures. Her biggest frustration is the penchant of her doppelgangers’ real life subjects to take on behavior more outrageous than her photographs.

“She fearlessly tugs away at the curtain that separates what we assume we know and what we really know about our icons and movers-and-shakers, and the result is stunning”

Sharon Steel, The Phoenix


Rick Smolan tells the story of a girl

About this talk

Photographer Rick Smolan tells the unforgettable story of a young Amerasian girl, a fateful photograph, and an adoption saga with a twist.

About Rick Smolan

Rick Smolan is the co-founder of the America 24/7 and Day in the Life photography series — and a natural storyteller in many media. His latest books are America at Home and Blue Planet Run.

Photographer Rick Smolan is the co-creator of the America at Home project, which captured the “emotions of home” across the United States during a week in September 2008. More than 20,000 photographers — pros and amateurs — sent images to a team of editors assembled by Smolan and partner Jennifer Erwitt, who turned the photos into an eye-popping book. It’s become a best-seller, of course, helped along by the fact that buyers can choose their own image for the cover.

Smolan has long been a force for exploring culture through photography. The Day in the Life photography series that he cofounded — best-selling photo books that captured life in America, Australia, the Soviet Union … — were an ’80s cultural phenomenon. (Rare was the coffee table without at least one of them.)

In the 1990s his production company, Against All Odds, investigated the storytelling powers of interactive CD-ROMs with From Alice to Ocean, a narrative of a cross-Australia trek, and Passage to Vietnam, exploring that country as it opened up in the early 1990s. 24 Hours in Cyberspace took a snapshot of the booming industry in 1996, and One Digital Day in 1997 further explored our fascination with tech.

Smolan’s latest book, with collaborator Jennifer Erwitt, is the beautiful Blue Planet Run, about the drive to bring fresh drinking water to everyone on Earth. It’s packed with glorious (and sometimes shocking) images and data about our planet’s water. In an unprecedented move, Amazon.com offers Blue Planet Run as a free PDF download. Download the free PDF of Blue Planet Run >>


James Nachtwey fights XDR-TB

About this talk

Photojournalist James Nachtwey sees his TED Prize wish come true, as we share his powerful photographs of XDR-TB, a drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis that’s touching off a global medical crisis. Learn how to help at http://www.xdrtb.org

About James Nachtwey

Photojournalist James Nachtwey is considered by many to be the greatest war photographer of recent decades. He has covered conflicts and major social issues in more than 30 countries.