Electricity is our friend | Sebastian Fleiter | TEDxCannes

Electricity is our friend | Sebastian Fleiter | TEDxCannes


Translator: Georges Pattinson
Reviewer: Remco Mollema What happens when electricity is gone? Now, you all seat here in a theater. It is a space which is arranged. There is light. There is sound. There is everything that suits you to be comfortable to watch the show. Probably most of you have a mobile phone in their pockets. With normal mobile phones today, at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon you have to start looking for sockets, you know “Where can I charge my phone, because it’s empty?” So we are surrounded with electricity everywhere we are. If you want to say it like this, it is the foundation of society as we know it today. And the interesting is if you start thinking
about electricity you know what it is, you suddenly realize the more you think about it, the less you really know. I have a professional background as an artist. I have been working all my professional life with a lot of machinery, with computers, with everything, with lights, everything I am using
has electricity and at some point, I set back and I asked myself where does electricity come from? What is this strange thing? As I started to think about it. And indeed the more you think about it, the less you know. So you remember from school time: there is plus, there is minus and there are electrons wandering around and this is basically it. You sort of losing it you know, you don’t know what it is in the end. How come I know so few things about this natural phenomena that is the basic of life in itself? When you do this, you are using electricity. You body works with electricity. And how come I don’t know such a lot, and I thought, What was the first thing when I got to know about electricity? We all know, the first impression you get from something when you meet something new, being somebody or something you know, the first 10 seconds are when you decide if you like it or if you don’t like it. Remember what was the first thing I learnt about electricity. It was fear. Somebody was telling when you were a child. Don’t put your fingers into the socket or you will die! That was basically
what you grew up with, for a couple of years. Every time you had something with electricity, someone was telling you Oh! Don’t touch it… it might be dangerous, you know… There is this lurking force in the wall, you can’t see it, you can’t touch it, you can’t feel it, don’t touch it! It’s dangerous…
Stay away! That’s a bit awkward if you want to have a positive relationship with something. You grow up you know things about electric chair. Zeus throwing down lighting that strikes people. All sorts of different things happening to you, this wasn’t always the case. In the beginning in the 18th century, when people sort of developed things that tried to tackle electricity, when it was all new people like to play around like children who discover something new. That was one of the first experiments where they put a woman on a pedestal and they charged her with small amounts of static electricity when she kissed somebody there were small sparks flying. Which is quite
the opposite of fear it is something nice,
something positive, something you want to do. There were people travelling around they were something
called “electrifiers.” They were somewhere between magicians and scientists they travel from village to village and did experiments like this, trying to engage and involve people into electricity. So when I had my moment of enlightenment it was on one of those festivals who see there, that is the Wacker Open Air festival, it is a heavy metal festival in Germany. Approximately over 80,000 people go there every year. Quite some of them have long hair and quite funny beards and they listen to music. So in a way it is the land of milk and honey. You go there you have music, you have friends, you have sound, you have everything is there and you just feel good
for a couple of days. And they are actually building whole cities for 80,000 people right in the middle of nowhere. And this is actually
quite an old picture, so today if you are standing in front of a stage you don’t see so much of the stage, you see everybody holding his or her mobile phone trying to record what’s happening on stage. I don’t know who is ever
going to look at all these videos, it probably means that every concert you are at, you can watch from a thousands of perspectives later on and spend the rest of your life just watching one concert. But still you on the festival you are using your mobile phone all the time, and probably with today’s actual smartphones after day 2 you meet
the icon of doom, which is this: It happens you are in the middle of civilization on a music festival and suddenly your smartphone is empty. What do you do? You actually start
looking for a socket. It is easy when you are at home, it is easy when you are at a hotel. If you are on a music festival with 200,000 other visitors, there is no public infrastructure that allows you to charge your phone. So you are running around like an electric nomad trying to find a socket, where is the next socket having your mobile phone and your adapter and there is none. The socket actually becomes the Holy Grail. Everybody is wondering around trying to plug themselves into whatever is installed there. You start making promises to the god who know: “Give me power and
I will stop smoking, just charge my mobile phone please I’ll do everything.” And I had a vision. When I was standing on that festival, I had a vision. I was thinking about Zeus and his chariot running across the sky. Looking down at people and sometimes smiting them with lighting. And I thought what he need it something to travel from this big event from one to the next, like the electrifiers did in the 18th century generate electricity onsite and charge mobile phones. So I got together a team of electricians, technicians, even I am an artist I have no idea about technology. So got a very precise team of professionals on board and we built this, this is a bit like a chariot, this is actually what it looks like when we are travelling around. When you actually put it out, it looks like this. That is the Electric Hotel. It is a converted
1960’s Airstream Trailer, an oldie if you want
to put it like this, highly polished and it generates electricity by means of wind, solar power and we have a small little water turbine, and we charge electric devices on these festivals. So who would come here like you would check in at the hotel, only you don’t check in yourself but check in your mobile phone or whatever you have, you would be amazed what people carry on to these festivals. You just check it in come back 2 hours later and it is charged
just by renewable energy. And there is a bit more. Well what interest me it is not really charging the phones, it is trying to raise awareness about electricity. So we constructed something like a flying circus. We have lots of modules where people can generate they own electricity. They can sit on bikes
and just pedal on, they can pump water in a big water pumping stations and we have other devices that allow people to get into touch electricity, get involved just like the child, children start playing with it and do something nice with it. And I like to invite you and follow me to the Shabolah Festival where we went last year and have a quick look at what it looks like in reality. So we are replacing fear with fun. People actually start getting interested into what this is. They start to ask questions: how much is 10 watts, how much is a 100 watts How come I can maybe charge my phone with one of those bikes? But can’t charge a hairdryer or whatever uses a huge amount of electricity. So you are engaging them but not with a raised moral finger. You don’t go around telling people what to do and what not to do just by engaging them and involving them with something that is nice. And reaching them on
a very different level, and this is all about being happiness and business. And engaging them into something that is useful to them and charging a mobile phone in a place where there is nothing else is obviously quite useful to them. So when we travel on the festivals we turning back this land of milk and honey which became a desert if you are looking for power. We are suddenly returning it to the land of milk and honey and it means that
just by being there and by charging phones we are trying to get
the message across, go home and think a little bit
about electricity because it is really worthwhile. And if you carry on thinking it there is places like music festivals, this is the Glastonbury Festival, big festival in the UK. There is other places on this planet where the difference between having no electricity and having small amounts of electricity which is quite easy to gather on a bike or small other things like thing about disaster relief camps, thing about other places where the amount of electricity that is needed is not a lot. But the actual means
of getting it there is not an easy task, it is just referring
by using muscle power makes all the difference. Watts up when there is no electricity. Thank you.

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