Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Olafur Eliasson at MIT: Turning ideas into action

Difficulty: 0

Welcome to a special session of the Tata Seminar.

Our class is officially called Technology Design

and Entrepreneurship Operating in Emerging Communities.

My name is [? Chintan ?] [? Veshna, ?] and I co-teach

this course with Dr. Rob Starr, Dr. Rich Roth,

who should be here somewhere, and Professor Charlie Fine.

And there are going to be about 40 graduate Fellows

of our program in the audience soon.

So on behalf of everybody, it's a great pleasure

to welcome artist Olafur Eliasson,

and engineer Frederik Ottesan to present the seminar.

Thank you.

Thank you.

So first of all, I want to thank you for choosing to meet us,

given your extremely tight and short schedule at MIT.

Let me begin by saying a little bit about the Tata Center

for Technology and Design.

We are focused on creating technology and systems based

solutions for meeting the human needs,

particularly in resource constrained environments.

We started in the fall of 2012, so we are very young,

but we are not small.

We are about 47 graduate students, about 30 faculty

from 20 different departments of MIT,

and we're trying to figure this out together.

So the research of the Tata Center

falls into about seven areas; that's energy, health, water,

agriculture, housing infrastructure,

environmental sustainability, and entrepreneurship.

Wow that's a lot.

That's a lot, yeah.

And what is particularly exciting about your visit to

us is that we are imagining that your journey that you

are taking as a part of this Little Sun Project

is making you contend with the challenges

that we are confronting as a program.

Particularly, we are focused on understanding

how to identify needs of a resource constrained community.

How do you work on solutions in it?

And then most importantly, how do you disseminate it?

So you can imagine that this crowd has a number of questions

for you, and I propose that we run this session by giving you

a chance first to say a little bit about your work,

and introduce yourself, and then go right into those questions.

So to get us started, let me maybe

pose a question that will lead to your introduction.

Could each of you tell us what you

would want us to know about yourself as a person?

How would you describe this thing called the Little Sun?

I refrain to call it a product, or a solution,

or an experience, or what have you.

And how do you see it reflecting who you are as a person?

That's already happened one lecture right there.

Go for it.

No, I'm so excited to be here.

Thank you so much.

It's great.

I can very quickly say--

I don't know if I can say who I would want to be,

but by all modesty I think I work as an artist,

and what I do is art.

So there was that part.

And then I mean, I grew up in Denmark with Icelandic parents.

I went to art school after finishing gymnasium.

And I started art school in 89, two weeks before the wall

came down in Berlin.

My first improvised trip in my education

was renting a car driving to Berlin, which

is approximately a seven hour drive from Copenhagen.

And I've been in Berlin since 20 years now.

I went back, finished, studied a bit,

but Berlin became very important for me.

So being brought up in Denmark, having a close relationship

with Iceland, where I came from, spending 20 years in Germany,

sort of toss that together, and sort of shake it a bit,

you come up with my kind of psychographic mental map.

So there was that part.

And then I brought a few pictures of a few artworks,

and that maybe allows me to say a little bit about how

I arrived to the project.

So I'll do that in a second.

And did you ask me to say?

How does Little Sun reflect on you?

How does Little Sun--

yeah, I hope that it does reflect--

I hope that Little Sun reflects something

of an evolution, something that is changing,

ongoing, and growing.

And in that sense, it's not about creating something

static, it's about having confidence in something

which is more dynamic.

And this of course, immediately puts you

in a situation where you constantly

have to think of how does the past produce the future.

How does our memory somehow create our expectations?

And for me, it's very much about combining what I know

with what I would like to do.

And as we all know, it's one of the great challenges

that we have.

And I certainly have this that we kind of know so much,

and this is now an institution of knowledge production

to a great extent.

But the challenge, as we also know

is, how does one then link what we know to what we do?

And that might sound very easy, but for me, Little Sun

very much became a sort of pivotal point in my life

where what I know actually channels into a kind of doing

that reflects the knowing.

I, of course, would like to think

of my artistic work, or my work as an artist,

as a good example of knowing and doing, or thinking and acting.

But Little Sun, by all means, has

I think proven to me that, with regards

to identification as you asked, that

is a very important part of it.

Were you going to show some--?

Yeah, why don't you-- maybe Fredrik

you will introduce yourself, and I'll

toss in a few pictures of a few old artworks,

and then we can take it from there.

We'll come back to this issue of knowing and doing.

Thank you.

I'm an engineer, and what I think is really important

is natural curiosity.

So just open your eyes to the world, and what goes on.

And I think one of the places where Olafur and I had

common interest was the doing, and follow your passions.

So right after I graduated, I felt the need

to feel at home on this little globe.

And I think the best way of feeling

at home was to circumnavigate it in a small boat

because it takes time, and you get time

to see and to experience, and developing whatever

you want to do in the world.

It's quite nice to feel at home, and feel safe anywhere you go.

Then I think it's strictly important

that when you have the capabilities of doing something

that you feel is important that to some extent,

you also have an obligation to actually do it.

And I didn't make a solar power lamp

or drag Olafur into making a solar powered lamp because we

got an idea; the idea kind of came to us based

on the knowledge that we had, and listening to the market,

and listening to the demand, and seeing the very very

limited supply.

I thought it was an important thing to challenge.

And I also think that you, in that process,

constantly have to be curious because we

are in an environment where we actually

don't know the results.

You also need to be slightly daring,

and constantly question what do you actually do.

Is it right, or is it not right?

I don't know, but if we analyze, and if we're

honest to what we do, and listen to the environment,

we can come forward to a reasonable result.

And I think that's a lot of what I represent

in this is using my technical expertise in balancing that

to what can we achieve, and what can we afford,

and how do we actually do that?

And so that was some of the things

that I found hugely interesting with venturing into the Little

Sun Project.

At first, it was not my profession; it was a project.

And we thought it was just a really interesting project.

It actually came out of another project that I was doing.

I kind of tend to have a passion for the slightly impossible.

And so I was working on a solar powered airplane,

and we actually just finished the world's first passenger

carrying solar powered airplane.

And a lot of the discussions Olafur and I

had in the beginning revolved around the airplane,

until we realized that maybe the world needed

a lamp slightly more than an airplane, at least right now.

And so that was how we got started on working.

So I think that to take the last question,

so how does Little Sun actually represent that?

I think without that natural curiosity,

without that understanding of the need of talking

to your customers, without a broad outlook,

it would never have been around.

So it very much embodies who I feel I am.

And when I realized that Little Sun embodied who I am,

I was quite surprised to find that I was a yellow flower.

I saw myself a lot more like an iPhone, but--


Working as an artist nowadays is,

of course, a kind of training in multiple sort of areas,

such as not only do you have to make a work of art,

you also have to sort of facilitate, or make sure

that the interests that the work of art has in the world

is not mismanaged by the museum.

So you kind of, as an artist, also

get involved with running museums,

making sure that they don't write a press release that

is counterproductive to what you thought the ad was about.

And frankly speaking, having worked then

for 20 years as an artist, you develop a broad set of skills.

Some of which are very pragmatic in the sense

of making an exhibition in Venice, where

getting a hammer and a nail is more or less

impossible in the 11th hour.

And I always say, if you can make an exhibition in Venice,

you can open up a retail store in Addis Ababa.

Much easier to work in off grid rural countries

than it is to be an artist making an exhibition in Paris.

And I'm actually quite serious.

So this is one aspect of it, but of course,

within the heart of the artworks itself,

there is also the confidence that one

can have a dialogue with the world, which

has consequences to the world.

And this idea of causality, meaning that when

I say something, and maybe it's not a major element,

or it's not going to change the world a lot,

but yet you feel that you are interconnected with the world.

And this idea of creativity, or the way that creativity somehow

performs is really very much related to the idea

that reality is relative.

So this of course, leads us to this idea that a work of art

is not the kind of object standing in the room.

To sort of break it down to basics,

which is where the artistic potential is in the object,

the artistic potential or the creative potential

is in the way that the object and the context, this being

the world or the time in which it's happening,

all the space in which it takes place, and so on, and so forth

is exchanging or resonating you could say.

So this means that it is the way that the work of art

is performing in the world that makes it to work of art.

The work of art itself as it of itself is only a machine.

Without anybody looking at it, engaging in it,

or a time in which it's--

a world around it--

it's not really, at least for me, an interesting work of art.

So I work a lot with spatial principles systems

in which people engage.

I have studied phenomenology and psychology with regards

to how do we experience.

The kind of behavioral studies-- what does experiencing actually


What is the experience economy?

What is counterproductive?

What is productive in this?

So there's a lot of social scientific material

in this, which taps very well into communication.

How do you speak without patronizing

the one you're talking to?

What is non-violent communication?

How do you exercise a degree of empathic understanding

of the other?

And what is the notion of the other?

What is identity?

And so on, and so forth.

So as you know, art, of course today,

is a kind of incredibly rich and very resourceful

field, where there is a lot of studies.

And when we say something about art,

it is clear that it's a little bit like saying the word food.

So there's so many Kitchens.

There's so many different types of looking at food, and so on.

So art is really not--

art is just language.

And I have come to appreciate this idea.

It's not really so much about what language you speak,

it's more about what do you want to say with the language.

So I'm trying to--

I'm so sorry-- I'm trying to break it very short.

So this is a project.

I have four examples for you.

This is a project-- this is actually 10 years old,

a little bit of an anniversary at the Tate Modern Turbine Hall

in London.

So what it is, as you can see, sort of a sunlike, actually

yellow piece of plastic backlit with a little bit of haze

in the room, half a circle, the lower half of a circle,

and then I put a very large mirror

in the ceiling, which gives you the sort of impression

that there is a full circle.

But if you look closely, or if you just look actually

carefully, you can see the other half is not really there.

It's just a reflection of the lower half.

But interestingly, what happened is that people very quickly

started to engage in this space in various ways,

and it became a kind of a community

on the floor that started behaving differently

than what one normally does in museums, and so on, and so


So and then, of course, I could talk

about this in different ways.

But what I think was particularly

interesting is that there was no doubt that people were having

an experience with, as far as I could tell,

was relatively robust.

Some people didn't maybe like it as much as others,

but generally speaking, it was clear

that there was an experience.

There's a lot of things going on.

People started to behave differently.

Some got more noisy; some got more quiet.

But what constituted the space was

this sense of sharing an experience,

without necessarily agreeing on what we saw.

So this is an interesting phenomenon

where I think you can have a high degree of singularity

in the subjective experience, but there

was a high degree of plurality in the sense of sharing.

And as you know, this is something

that has become relatively rare in society

because everything is either polarized,

or it's becoming probabilistic, or nationalistic, or whatever.

Meaning that things very quickly become exclusive or excluding.

Meaning that if you don't agree, you're not welcome.

If you're not the same as me, or if you look different,

if you have different background,

and so on, and so forth, there's a tendency to exclusion.

So as a space, or as an art institutional system,

it's very interesting that some institutional systems can

kind of facilitate a parliamentary, good, democratic

idea about, well, let's see if we can share something,

without necessarily having to agree with it.

Let's share and disagree at the same time.

So this is a discussion one could go down into.

I think a very interesting principle

that I've been very curious to look into,

which is why I've done works like this.

You can barely see it.

Maybe it's a little bit of a rainbow,

or it's a small rainbow, which is

made with water falling, spotlight, a little bit

like a sort of normal spotlight in the ceiling.

And as we know, you need an eye as well

because if there is nobody in this space,

the question is whether the rainbow is actually there.

Now, that's a good discussion between the natural obsessive

natural sciences, or the kind of phenomenologist

as to what extent is the eye actually a coproducer here?

But principally speaking, the object is gone.

It's been dematerialised.

The traditional notion of what constitutes art is gone.

The subject becomes more active.

My seeing is becoming the producer.

I become the artist.

The spectator has become the coproducer.

I as an artist, me, hand over the responsibility

of the quality of this project to the people who

come to visit the exhibition.

Meaning that I, as an artist, I'm only, you know of course,

I kind of write a narrative, but the reader

is the kind of performer of the narrative.

And if there is a person next to me, as we know with a rainbow,

the rainbow that the person next to me sees

is, by definition, not the same because the angle of the eye,

and the drop is a different one.

So same phenomena, but different rainbow.

And we can still see something where

we constitute the idea of sameness,

but it is by virtue, as far as we know, not at all the same.

And so on, and so forth.

So this is the waterfall in New York five years ago,

I believe 2008, so six years slowly.

And one could talk about this sort

of spatial phenomenological principles,

but what I think is interesting here,

or one of the things that was interesting,

to pick one topic again, was when we see water falling,

we actually also see how far away it is.

Because, as we know, water tends to fall

with roughly the same rate-- a little more water does

apparently fall a little faster-- but, you know,

when you're in a landscape, you travel to Iceland, no trees,

no cars, no roads.

And you are looking, and you go, my god, what landscape is this?

Am I on the moon?

I can't really get a sense of scale.

I wonder if I go down there, will I be this big,

or will I be that big?

Does it take an hour, or a day to walk into that valley?

Haven't you been at landscapes where you just-- it's

somehow if you see a tree in the area, and if you have a car,

you can kind of tell, then you look, and then

you see a waterfall.

And you look at the waterfall, and you

realize the water's falling very slowly.

Oh it must be a very tall waterfall, very far away.

Suddenly, the waterfall introduces a sense of scale,

and obviously it's not the scale of the landscape that

is interesting, it's the scale of your body within the context

of the landscape.

So it constitutes your own presence,

which is why hiking through a landscape,

and suddenly looking at a waterfall

can be such a rewarding experience,

and so on, and so forth.

So depth, perception, space, and body presence

is one of the things that I've been very interested in.

And if you look at New York, where public space has been

privatized, and kind of the regime of two dimensionality,

depriving social, let's say, confidence,

which is a big discussion within public parks and space,

and so on.

It's an interesting field, and I think

art, of course, is one of the factors

that can introduce a sense of, not just [? deafness, ?]

but also a sense of a space where people can actually meet,

singular, plural, maybe even.

Same principle, rainbow around circular sculpture,

architecture thing.

You walk around-- if you don't walk, the color won't change,

as you can see.

Just stand still, nothing happens.

So if you're not walking, you're not

activating, so you again the artist.

I worked for many years with a number of scientists.

I've always, like a vampire, sucked

anything I could out of natural scientists, cosmologists,

physicists, and so on.

I've tried to take advantage of the methodological successes

that they have brought to the table.

I, as an artist, aren't really capable of much,

but believing in that creativity plays a significant role in how

the world is being shaped.

But the rest of the stuff I rely on,

incredible other talents I have, as I grow older,

I have come also to appreciate them, and respect

the role of, for instance, the engineer in Frederik's

case, the fact that the kind of resonating effort

is something that is very, very valuable.

And when I talk about effort, I think

I say most specifically because it's

not about the objective knowledge that we have.

It's not the sum of everything we know.

It is the effort that knowing something gives us.

The effort to actually push something ahead.

So I have come to understand, through my art,

that sometimes it's not understanding a work of art,

or it's not the art work, but it is the effort

to understand the work of art that makes me appreciate it.

This is why the effort of actually trying

to bring an idea into doing is sometimes

more valuable than the done idea, or the idea when

it is done.

I think this is a very interesting argument

because very often we have people who have great ideas.

My students at the University in Berlin, they say,

I have made an amazing work of art.

Let me just explain it to you.

It's an idea.

It goes like this.

Isn't that a great work of art?

And I say, no, no, no.

It's an idea about a potentially interesting work of art,

but why don't you try to put some effort into it,

and see if it actually translates

into something interesting?

Because once you start doing that,

you will see two things happening.

First of all, it changes.

Secondly, the effort is not as easy as one should think.

The effort is actually really hard work, complex.

You have to have engineers on board.

And then they motivate you, but they also kind of

make it very difficult because they also

bring in sort of data that is just not what you had expected.

I think you do that too.


So I was thinking about what's in common

about art and engineering?

And one of the things that interestingly occurred to me

was that this whole idea of ideas to action,

which is the title of this session, or Menz et Manos,

which is the model of MIT, mind and hands,

is where these two disciplines may come together.

So here's my question.

What, to you, comes in between an idea and action,

and is this where art and engineering, or disciplines

come together?

Is this where they actually differ

so that something interesting can

come from their interaction?

How do you think about that?

I think a lot about that.

And I think one of the things that

is in between having an idea, and actually doing something

actually, to a lesser extent, has

to do with the choice of material,

then it has to do with the degree of self-confidence.

So surprisingly, the kind of trust you have in yourself,

with regards to stepping from the idea

into giving it language, is actually a much different--

it's quite adventurous to have an idea, then take a pen,

and then make a drawing.

It's like an unbelievably rich moment when you

start to give the idea shape.

One can even go backwards a little bit.

So where did the idea come from?

And sometimes, if you don't know exactly what to draw--

in my case, it can sort of plays off you

going back, wow, this idea really

came out of that feeling.

Before it was language because I can speak about my idea.

It actually was a sort of non-verbal sort

of state of something.

And this was, to some extent, intuitive.

I don't know if I could barely even think about it,

but I had the feeling.

And this is a lovely state.

I'm sorry to kind of get more and more vague here,

but let's just wander down this path a little bit.

So sometimes we also must appreciate

we have a feeling, which has not yet found a language yet.

It's incredible, and we should nurture it.

So where does this come from?

Maybe it is a kind of micro trauma.

So 10 years ago, I was in a situation.

Something happened, and it kind of left an imprint,

like a footprint in--

so depending on where, and how we use our language--

in my soul, I could say.

So this footprint-- and then I realized,

10 years later, I'm going there, oh interesting.

That just stayed with me, that footprint.

And now, I can add a word to it.

I can feel this.

Let me just go back, and visit that footprint.

What was the circumstances?

What inspired me?

Why was I-- a micro trauma can be both good and bad,

and it's so very complex.

So there is something there.

And we can exercise this a little bit

as I think one should not hesitate to do.

So see where do I get my inspiration from.

We have to seek the kind of the places

where inspiration is brought to us, whether it's preverbal

or not.

We can also think about that.

Let's think of 10 years from now,

where we are sitting somewhere else,

and we're going to look back at this classroom

where we're sitting now.

What do we think is needed in order

to make this moment of such a quality

that our footprint is taken with us into 10 years from now?

From now, I can sort of send a greeting into the future.

I say hi to myself.

And say, oh this is now, we have to say something.

And this means that we have to take the moment serious.

We have to treasure this incredibly important moment

because maybe we, right now, are about to do

something significant.

So I'm just saying the idea from thinking

to doing is, especially at its beginning,

incredibly complex and wonderful.

So from there then, of course, very quickly, it also

has to do with a certain talent with regards

to rationalizing the steps.

Should it be a tabletop experimental process?

Should it be a spatial?

Should it be a big laboratory at MIT?

Do I need a 100 people team, or just need one person?

So all these sort of methodological questions that.

And I think this, of course, depends, and has a lot

to do with what idea, but one thing that I think

is very important is that you are--

and then I think you should talk about it for a little bit also.

I think for one, you are on the way from the idea,

and in my case, a work of art.

But it could really be anything.

So you're on it, but you're only halfway there,

and oh my God, this is never ever going to be a work of art.

And then you're kind of stuck.

And there's a certain point where

also talking to a natural scientist

just won't help you because you know it's your choice.

I said, oh you can't ask somebody to solve it for you.

So this is, I think, an interesting moment also

in the process because the solution is not

in-- the solution is not looking at the problem,

but it is looking at the world in which the problem is


So sometimes, the making sense of a problem

lies in seeing the problem in the context of the world, which

brings you from asking how to asking why.

So generally speaking, we go from thinking

to doing as asking how.

It's going to be red.

It's going to be wood.

I'm going to make it so tall.

And so there's all this house.

And then at some point, you just run short of-- it's

just like kind of you've driven yourself into the desert.

Then you start wondering, well, why?

And then you have a new momentum.

Oh now I know why.

Of course, then well, maybe I shouldn't have

made it red in the first place.

Maybe it should be yellow.

So these are, in a very abstract sense, I think the kind of,

and as you can tell, the kind of methodology where

the trust plays a major role.

Do I have confidence in making a choice?

And do I have confidence, and even doing

it looking at the world?

And see how the world feeds you to make the choice,

and how the choice also impacts the world.

I call that touching.

You touch the world.

You hold hands with the sun, or you

are being touched by the world.

You are interconnected.

I think one of the things you mentioned

that, in this practice as an artist,

you were using engineers, and physicists, and mathematicians.

As I'm not an artist, I'm an engineer,

I could also see that, as an engineer,

I think it could be really beneficial to use an artist.

And that's kind of what I came about.

Because I started this solar powered lamp idea,

and it came to my mind that I wanted to make an impact.

And I looked in the marketplace, and I didn't-- it's not

an invention in any way.

Solar powered lamps has been around for a while.

And how could we then make a real impact?

And what were the drivers in buying products like this,

or artworks like this?

And I realized looking into the marketplace,

there was absolutely no product in the market that

inspired any kind of happiness, or any kind of beauty,

or any kind of emotions.

Human beings are hugely emotional.

And then I kind of looked back at my history,

and my education, and learning.

It there's just a blank page.

I never learned anything about designing $0.35 of plastic

into giving any kind of emotions.

I just couldn't do it.

I could sit and draw forever.

I could look at my study books.

I had not learned how do I put emotions

into a piece of plastic.

So I'm going, I can't do this.

I could make squares, and I could make rounds.

I could calculate the volumes in squares and rounds,

and stuff like that, but it just didn't change the picture.

So that's where kind of, of course, I

look at Olafur because very, very few people are

capable of putting a huge amount of emotions into a mold,

and reproduce their emotions a million times at no cost.

So I think, as engineers, there's

a huge opportunity in looking into production of emotions,

and that's where the artwork comes into the picture.

So that a little bit underlines the collaboration of how

we work, and the necessity.

When you were talking about your other art projects,

you talked a lot about the idea of trying

to make part of the art the experience of the people that

observe art.

So as you're thinking about the design process for Little Sun,

who is it that is experiencing this art,

and what was the experience that you wanted them to have?

We started working with the Little Sun,

and we were spending some time in Ethiopia testing it.

And so, for instance, we went to see a German version

of what is called USAID.

You know, kind of engineers working locally,

and really talented people, and so on, it's

called [? GT7 ?] in Germany.

And we were sitting there, and they said, oh just

make sure it just bloody works.

Who cares about the sun?

This is Africa.

So it's typically a sort of a kind of neocolonial attitude,

condescending and so on.

We kind of couldn't see it even.

We were like, oh yeah, yeah, yeah, kind of.

This was a few years ago now.

And then Frederik went out, and drove to south of Ethiopia.

And then he came back in the evening, or the next day,

and he said, you know, what's so funny?

We had something which looked a little bit like an ice hockey


It's like really sort of practical.

You could toss it around, nothing happens,

so totally unemotional.

And then he said, Frederik, well you

know, I was showing some young girls, sort of on the way

home from school I guess, the lamp,

and they said, oh well, interesting lamp,

but the string is really nice.

And then Frederik took out his iPhone, and he wrote that down,

and then they said, the iPhone is really amazing.

And I was like, oh, we're doing something wrong.

And obviously, it just dawned on me very quickly.

My god, it was so typical to think that functionality alone

will do.

So typically, engineers to think that they can somehow

tell, or speak on behalf of other people.

No offense, but you know what I mean.

So the kind of first learning curve

with regards to the design was as Frederik actually

pointed out.

Well, of course, the success lays

in the ability to touch each other, or to be touched.

And this is interesting because this everybody shares.

It's not about the kind of resourceful North,

and the resourceless South.

It just becomes about the desires we have in life.

So I want to be happy.

That's it.

I want to have beautiful stuff around me, relatively


I just like-- I just want a certain amount of luxury

in my life because it just makes me happier, simple as that.

So the design very quickly became about also saying, well,

this project is about the same needs everywhere.

It's not like only a problem when you're in off-grid x-area,

where there's no access to energy.

It's kind of a global problem that a part of the world

is totally disconnected from power, disregarding

the health, the kind of, you know,

the climate, the educational, all the sort of surrounding


So the driving process really started

with saying, well, let's just make a lamp that everybody

thinks is beautiful.

I think I'll rephrase that a little bit because the truth

is, to answer your question, we did

have what you would consider as a focus group in Hawassa,

a small town South of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

And we did also look at the demographics of Ethiopia

because that was our starting point.

And looking at that, you realize that the population

is on average below 16.

So you need to make a product that speaks incredibly well

to children.

And the people buying products for the children is mothers.

So designing something that would

fall in the taste of women and children,

then you cover about 80% of your market.

And with any kind of product, it's

quite nice to know that you cover

a certain amount of the market.

And so the lamp is built in a direct dialogue

with those women and children in Hawassa.

And as all of us said, we were going back and forth

between Berlin and Addis quite a couple of times,

realizing that the first prototypes we made just

didn't work.

Not that they didn't work technically--

and when we were showing the products in the market,

and talking about the products in the market,

they were very, very sellable because we

were able to communicate the upside of the product--

but as soon as we laid the product by itself,

in an open market, on a little kiosk or something,

it wouldn't move because it didn't communicate by itself.

So nothing happened.

And I think that's very much in line

with what we see on the other products in the market.

They don't communicate, and that means they're not sellable.

Because our customers, they don't care about LEDs.

They can't judge it.

They don't care about battery qualities

because they can't judge it.

They don't care about solar panel output

because it doesn't make any sense to them.

So they care about emotions.

They need something that they will pick up

because they think it's nice, or beautiful, or interesting,

or emotional because that's how we are.

So going back and forth a couple of times, realizing

that we didn't have the right product,

we were looking at photos, I think--

who was in charge of this thing?

I'll just move to a photo I can quickly browse.

Yeah, can you take the photo of me

in the street with the girls?

Because one of the things that is really interesting

learning is understanding who your customers are,

and what they stand for.

And our customers, they're romantic.

Their patterns, their colors, the layers, the flowers,

they're by no means minimalists.

And that you have to understand, and that you have to address.

And so the next time we came back.

So we looked at that picture, and realized

that that was the case, and what we were doing wrong.

And we went Addis asking completely different things

that we've done at any other point.

So we'd start asking, how does prosperity look?

How does beauty look?

What is your favorite color?

That kind of questions we would ask our customer group.

And as Olfaf was telling for physical bodies,

then turn those questions into something that looked

somewhat similar to this.

It's also about the story.

So I think you detailed what I said.

It wasn't really different from what I said.

That degree of the detail of the design

process, and not forgetting there is a practical side,

we also wanted to compete with the oil industry.

So there's a bit, sort of, money, monetary, financial.

But still, there was also this story,

and the design is obviously the relationship with the lamp,

as much as the kind of actual tangible feeling of it

in your hand.

So the story, at a very early stage,

that I was with an elderly woman, and I said to her,

I have to explain it, and then it's also a work of art.

And she looked at me, she said, what do you mean a work of art?

And I said, well, it's a work of art.

And this was in Addis Ababa.

And she looked at me, and says, so she said to me,

like in the church?

And then I looked at her, and I didn't see that coming.

And then I said, yes, exactly like in the church.

Then she looked, and said, oh but that's amazing.

So you see sometimes this idea that something nonfunctional

carries you much further.

And obviously, it still has to work,

and has to compete with a certain price benchmark,

and so on.

And this is where this idea of combining this idea of power--

I have five hours of sunlight in my hand.

I'm holding hands with the sun.

When I charge it, I charge myself.

The idea of resources being, on one side,

the kind of measurable amount of sunlight

that you have in your battery, and sort of

suggest that there is a relationship between that,

and how you feel.

You are charging yourself.

You are becoming resourceful.

That became a kind of design driver with regards

to understanding what is our message.

How do we reach out in a way that is--

productive sounds so quantifiable--

but reach out in a way which actually

is confidence building.

When you say that you have a sun--

you have the power of the sun in your hand,

and then when I'm thinking that, oh but it

has this solar panel, and batteries,

and there's a casing, and there's a LED.

I mean, I understand it.

We have a really funny picture of a sign

because we didn't have marketing material in the beginning,

we just had lamps.

And then we started testing out selling these lamps at kiosks,

and they created marketing material themselves.

So a really nice one, a big picture, and our logo,

and it says, no batteries, no electricity, only sun.

It's just completely wrong, but that's the perception.

So I think you, as an engineer, have

to understand that a lot of your customers,

at least in this market, have a very different perception

of technology than you do.

I did a lot of road trips in Ethiopia in the beginning,

and I talk to our focus group, and one

of the questions I came about quite frequently was,

is it dangerous to wear it?

And that surprised me quite a lot

because I couldn't understand it.

And another question I got that really showed me

our customer group's understanding of technology

was, will it work without the strap?

And to you and me, that seems like a quite odd question,

but if technology is pretty distant from what you do,

it's a perfectly valid question.

And it just shows you how far away LEDs and batteries are,

if you can think that the lamp will not

work without the strap.

Hello, I'm a graduate student of the MIT Media Lab,

and I'm also an artist.

My question is based on the consumer feedback, and the way

that people are using it, what is the future of the Little Sun


You plan to design another one?

Oh yeah.

So of course, we have like so many plans.


But I think one very clear ambition

is to succeed in scale.

I mean, now we have--

we feel we're so we're so excited, and proud,

and all of that.

We have kind of managed to bring about--

what is it, 130?

250,000 lamps.

We have 250,000 now.

So and that has-- if they are all out there, and working,

and so on, we have already tossed a few--

we have reduced the sales of petroleum.

It's not a lot, but you know, considering.

So soon we can sort of start trade carbon sort of.

Now so the idea is obviously that every fifth person

in the world doesn't have access to energy.

And this is really the perspective.

And we are already--

we are close to finishing a mobile phone charger.

We have worked and worked again on our business model.

We are close to breaking a kind of investment

into our little company here.

And so there's a number of things going on.

The business model is basically based

on selling at a higher price in places where there is power,

and then we sell it at a lower price where there is no power.

But we are market driven.

It's not an aid project.

It's not a, sort of, it's supposed to build up--

and that's a whole field of itself, microeconomics.

To be at the bottom of pyramid economical infrastructure,

and build up in the retail system.

The whole idea of retailing this is a whole field of itself.

We have a little task force in Berlin,

where people are actually being paid from the money being

generated by this.

10 people are working now, and a few people, and hopefully

more and more people are working in rural places, where

there's no access to energy.

So we're very ambitious.


My name's Alana, and I'm a first year graduate student here

at MIT Sloan.

And you sold this product across different geographies,

and so I'd like to know a little bit more

about how you've adapted your messaging, or your marketing

strategy, or your dissemination to adapt

to different geographies and cultures.

I think that's a tough one.

I don't think we're that far yet.

So the truth is that we actually haven't picked our markets

very strategically.

The markets kind of picked us up.

When we started out, we knew that, in order to succeed,

we needed to focus, and then learn from that experience,

and spread that.

But we are also about communication,

and it is a global challenge.

And in a political world, having a global challenge,

and a global communication platform,

and only addressing the challenge in one market,

it doesn't work that well.

And Olafur and I are also both incredibly bad at saying no.

So when people ask us to do something,

we tend to say yes, at least from time to time.

So a lot of the time, and in business, and in markets,

and selling is also about meeting the right people

at the right time.

So when we have felt that somebody came along

in a specific market wanted to do something with this,

we've said yes some times, perhaps too many times.

And that means we actually haven't

made our strategic marketing fit a specific market.

We only have one way of doing it,

and we do the same in Ethiopia, and Senegal,

and Rwanda, Uganda, Nairobi, the whole thing.

And of course, that's not right.

And we also know that, even though the lamp is designed

for Ethiopia, had the design been made for Uganda,

it would have been different because that's

how the nature is.

So we also know that, of course, there's

a need for different marketing to optimize your sale.

But right now, we are at a point where we are really

happy that we're just selling.

To get into the optimization of selling, we haven't done.

And I also think in that whole marketing question,

there's a really interesting observation.

Do you really need to market, and why do you do marketing?

You normally tend to do marketing, at least in the US,

if you want to sell products that people don't want.

So you need to tell them to want the products.

We don't need to do that because our customers,

they want the product.

So the biggest challenge that has

nothing to do with Little Sun-- the biggest

challenge in solar devices in Africa is delivery.

It's not designing.

It's not producing.

It's not selling.

It's delivery.

So it's the supply chain is actually the biggest

challenge for all of us.

And we meet once a year at conferences, and exchange

knowledge, and it's the same across the board.

Everybody agrees that that is actually the real challenge.

D.light is the biggest player on the solar appliance market.

And you tend to think they do radio marketing.

So they're the only ones that right now have a budget

to do radio marketing, and it's fantastic for everybody.

Because the customers, they see a solar powered lamp,

and to them that's a d.light because d.light

is so strong in the marketing.

So they created the Walkman, and when people bought a Walkman

in the 80s, they didn't care if it came from Sony,

or somebody else, it was still a Walkman.

And so a d.light is just a solar powered lamp,

so it benefits everybody.

I think you did answer my question.

Thank you.

I wanted to add something with regard

to the whole communication also has to do with the awareness,

and what footprint do we then leave in people.

And the awareness building really is both on a--

a child who grows up with this reading every night in bed.

How does that child make a decision with regards

to energy, when that child is grown up,

and has to build a house, and make a choice for energy?

So there's that story.

There's also the general policy making, and the need

to address systems and solutions, and so on.

And one of the challenges I think

is, again as we spoke about, thinking and doing.

And so I worked with on a few occasions

with Little Sun and our team, and for like with on how

to communicate the lamp in other ways

than the traditional marketing.

And obviously, on a large scale, it doesn't work.

This is a picture of a project that we are doing occasionally,

and I think we are now doing it on the--

what is it called, Casilla?

Here in America, the music festival?


So Coachella, they love us, and we love them.

So it's a happy marriage.

And so they ask, why don't you come and do

some sort of Little Sun stuff?

So this is in a way.

And we could do it also--

we're trying to build a music festival,

a sort of block party in Addis Ababa, and this sort of thing.

So the idea is that you make a graffiti,

or a drawing with a lamp.

And interestingly, I think this idea of motion

is about the difference between just thinking about, oh

this is really interesting.

You might touch it.

It's a good beginning.

But if you start to dance, then you are, one could say,

you are a little bit traumatized.

You know what I mean when I said before

that you kind of have memory?

Because then you go home, and you go,

oh yeah that was that lamp.

You know, now I know how it feels.

So you store this story through motion.

And as we know from, and that apparently came from MIT,

if you make gymnastics by learning mathematics,

you're much more likely to remember it long term.

You know, so all the kind of stories

of knowledge and movement, and it's a big mistake

that you're all sitting down like this with regards

to what we say.

It's simply not going to be--

you should be jumping up and down.

So the point-- maybe you can turn on the globe.

So this photo, as I said, is me trying to draw,

and unsuccessfully trying to write something

in front of a sort of stop motion camera, which

captures the light.

But essentially, the project brings

the Coachella, for instance, and we

have done it again and again.

It then sends that picture onto an online planet,

and this planet is, which is then built. But so you see,

so it's like kind of building a sun.

So essentially, this is, at some point,

going to be so full that it's just because the sun.

When you Zoom into it, you'll see all the signatures

of the people, and the signatures are kind of a dance.

So it's just a little marketing project,

which is about awareness building,

and creating a sense of community, and sharing the sun,


so there is plenty of small little town projects like this,

which reach out into what we call social media

type of Twitter friendly stuff.

But it also addresses the fact, well, understanding energy

is not so easy because energy is very abstract,

except for incredible people like you here at MIT.

But generally speaking, energy is something very difficult.

It's very difficult to understand the climate crisis.

Oh my God, you know, it's so intangible.


My name is Bertha.

I'm a PhD student doing bar electronics.

My question is more towards the merging of the two markets.

So you're developing this product for the developing

world, people without access to electricity,

and a lot of the marketing, and the buzz that you're creating

is in the developed world, with the social media

platforms and exhibitions.

So in your product, how important

is that, and is that how most of the money and the buzz

is being generated?

And just leading on to that, how important

do you think, in general, kind of trying to merge these two

markets is, rather than thinking of this

as the thing that the developing world as the consumers,

and getting money from the developed world?

I think one of the good things, with especially social media,

is social media, they don't have a Facebook for Africa,

and Facebook for the United States.

They only have a Facebook.

So when you use social media, it works equally well

on all our markets.

And I think if we had tons of money,

and wanted to market the Little Sun really heavily in Nigeria,

the most effective thing would probably

be a huge big poster on Fifth Avenue in New York.

And so most people don't realize that the globe is unbelievably

small, and that we all see the same,

and that we all aspire for the same.

So when we do a big thing in Milan,

that's hugely important in Zimbabwe.

And we know that.

So we have people in small stores in Zimbabwe

saying that it is so fantastic that we do stuff in Milan.

So yeah, I can add to that.

A good example is a Renaissance is a shopping mall in Milan

in front of the Duomo, the most expensive shopping

mall for the kind of-- so they gave us the Christmas

windows Little Sun Project, that project, stuff like that.

So very interestingly, we were doing

a pilot kiosk in Addis Ababa.

Assefa-- maybe you can put Assefa on there.

It's the one with the spread.

So Assefa-- we said, ah you know Christmas and Milan, we'll go,

and then we do a Christmas party, a Little Sun Christmas


Then Assefa says, oh amazing.

Oh I love Milan.

Milan is amazing.

I love Milan.

I'm selling something; Milan is selling something.

We're in the same boat.

It's great.

I'm going to go.

That's Assefa.

So Assefa says, I'm going to go to Milan for the Christmas

party, but the truth is he's not because he's

selling cigarettes out of the packs,

and chewing gum one piece at a time.

But he was like so into the party, totally loved

it, easy going, easy peasy.

Then we are in Milan at the Christmas party,

doing a little bit of sort of preparation,

and so on, communication prep with the team, the sales team,

and so on, and so forth.

And then, of course, everybody goes, oh Assefa, the guy,

we're going to help us, so we will party for Assefa.

So the idea that they were partying with Assefa

was really not present.

So the distance from Addis Ababa to Milan

is much shorter than from Milan to Addis Ababa.

So the mindset is very interesting.

The mindset is, with regards to the matter,

there's a huge difference in the conception,

the kind of interpretation of the African market

from the kind of northern.

And normally, I would always say we are five years behind what

is actually going on.

And of course, it's a little more complex.

And of course, it is--

I mean we have trained to stop saying underdeveloped,

developing, developed.

We've just trained to stop saying it

because it's so counterproductive.

When you are in Addis Ababa, and say, oh you're

sort of underdeveloped, Assefa goes,

what do you mean it's underdeveloped?

It's not undeveloped.

It's a very good kiosk.

So it's been a learning curve.

And I think the truth is we should also not

be afraid of saying whether sometimes it

is bloody underdeveloped.

You know, girls don't go to school.

That is underdeveloped.

And to find a balance, and sort of a way of addressing this

without being excluded, or exclusive, or something.

It's a complex challenge.

But by all means, a lot of the challenges

are very much in the northern hemisphere,

and much to a much lesser extent,

in the southern hemisphere.

I think now, I just remembered a funny story with regards

to marketing and technology.

I think now that we are here in Teta.

And engineering, so you're all aware

that you made the Nano a phenomenal car

from an engineering perspective.

I mean, they made an achievement that no car company

had made so far.

They marketed the cheapest car in the world, which

is an astonishing achievement.

But who wants that?

Do you think it became a success?

No, it did not.

Nobody wants to have the cheapest car in the world.

Now they're repositioning it with huge costs.

So if you make something-- and this,

right now, is the cheapest solar powered lamp on the market.

So going back to d.light, their cheapest version is called S1,

and that retails in Uganda between $12 and $14.

We retail in Uganda between $10 and $12,

which is slightly below.

We are the cheapest lamp on the market.

We also think we're the most beautiful.

Do we ever tell anybody that we are the cheapest

lamp on the market?

Of course not.

We tell them that we are the most beautiful lamp

on the market because we think that's what our customers want.

So that's, again, how do you communicate?

And that communication translates very well globally.

I was in a class a little while ago, and it's D-Lab.

I don't know if you've heard of it.

They do a lot of products in countries, like Africa,

and South America, and so forth.

And one of the things I had asked them about

was the fact that there's a million

and seven different kinds of solar lamps,

and why despite that, there still seems to be this problem.

One of the things they brought up was the Little Sun,

and they said, that in their experience traveling,

it was seen more as a toy than an actual appliance.

Now, I don't know if that's actually

a good thing or a bad thing because kids are still

using it, but what are your thoughts on that?

I think that's a plus.

So if you know that your consumer group is

below 16, and perceiving it as a toy, then you hit your market.

I also think when they say they perceive it as a toy,

it's probably that it's very optimistic, and slightly naive.

And children and toys tend to be that way.

I haven't experienced anybody not liking it,

and not smiling when they saw it.

So one thing is that you perceive it as a toy,

but you quickly realize that it works.

The main downside on kerosene lantern,

which is a bio-fuel lantern light

is the health issues, especially for the ones

who sits right next to the kerosene lantern.

A single wick kerosene lantern, if you sit within a meter

distance, it's the equivalent in two hours

to smoking 40 cigarettes.

And this means, if you are a child doing

your homework, which is the most exposed

in the household because they literally sit-in, like you

know, they burn their front hair on the kerosene

because they sit with a lamp, and the kerosene, and the book.

So this means that the kind of major instant impact

is a health impact.

The more long term impact is hopefully generating a cheaper

chain of economy, bringing a little more resources

to the families simply because they are buying,

over the lifespan of three years--

which is the rechargeable batteries in this--

that will allow for a little bit extra money

to maybe keep one child out of labor,

and put that one child into school maybe.

And so there is a number of benefits,

but they all somehow involves children.

Typically, the people in the household,

as far as we have come to understand,

who spent money on this type of material is also the mother.

Basically, in our system, the father's out of the equation.

He just would never buy a solar lantern.

So this is a bit of a follow up on their behavior.

So seeing as the purpose of the Little Sun

is to actually have an experience

kind of with the individual that's using it,

what has been your follow up with people

who have purchased this?

Have you seen them using it as a toy?

Do literacy in regions increase with this?

I guess have you measured some kind of behavior trends

on the other side?

We don't have this.

We just a small start up, so we don't

have the capabilities of going out and measuring

the results of the Little Sun.

We rely on the World Bank and Lighting Africa studies

on what happens in environments where you

introduce solar powered light.

And those studies always show that you actually

have an increase in studying hours, and also an increase

in education learning on that one.

But it's not a Little Sun thing, it's

a solar powered lamp thing.

And we also, I think we learned a little bit-- oh

I'm getting louder and louder, or is that just me?


So what is so important--

but what we also see is actually it's hard to--

we should be a little bit careful

to predict too much because we were with a-- you were with a,

I believe, an elderly gentleman who

was going to go out every morning, 4

o'clock in the morning, to milk the cow.

And you said, as I said to him, oh why don't you

use the Little Sun?

It's about 4:00 in the morning; it's dark.

He said, no, no, I've been doing that

in darkness for 40 years or so.

I kind of know how that goes.

But you know, now I've become a little older,

what I'm afraid of now is actually,

when I go to the toilet by night--

which he didn't want to talk about really--

I'm afraid of falling, and if I break a hip,

my family falls apart.

So it was unpredictable the kind of use.

And of course, we have seen some people

who just sort of use it to kind of party,

or just sort of have fun.

Because we are so, oh you have to educate the children,

but then the children's just kind of playing around

with it as a toy.

Kind of like not doing their homework, damn it.

So some of it also has to do with that it's just--

there's a certain limit to how to define the success.

I wonder why do we need an artist in order to solve this,

or to find the answer for these problems?

And of course, I know and all we know

that you are not working alone.

You work with a group.

But why not an economist, an engineer, an architect,

a sociologist, or a politician?

That's a good question.

I actually also don't know whether I am actually

an artist in that way.

I don't, to be honest, think of myself as an artist

in order to do something.

I do think of me as a part of a civic system,

and being a contributor, or a participant,

or coproducer of a civic system.

I see that I bring in my skill set,

but I actually don't think you need an artist at all,

to be honest.

And as we know, there is plenty of success stories

in the world, sadly, where there is no artist involved.

So I don't think one can say by definition--

I do think, though, that--

I could not end it there.

So I do think that art, frankly speaking, it is, especially

today, as success is increasingly

being defined by quantifiable measures,

the definition of success is becoming narrower and narrower.

If it's not sellable, measurable,

if you don't become rich, it's probably not a success.

And sadly, a lot of soft skill successes,

unpredictable or soft successes are

kind of falling off the cliff in this deep, competitive, market

driven, arrogant, probabilistic sort of world we live in.

The lack of interdependence, the lack of altruistic effort,

and all of that is simply kind of-- you

don't have a politician who comes around

to say, well, as long as the art museum shows good art,

I'm happy.

They would always say, well, if it doesn't

have 200,000 people a year, probably

it's then not a good art museum.

Of course, we all know that art has nothing

to do with the amount of people, but the politicians just

won't get elected.

So this means, by all means--

this is not artist, but there is a lot of things

that I would argue we need to start to treasure what

creativity is capable of.

And artists are certainly not the only ones who are creative.

We argue all of [INAUDIBLE],, I mean.

But just generally speaking, we should really just

be very careful.

And this is why I would suggest if now we're

sort of in an engineering, under your great guidance,

and then into engineering environment,

I really encourage and suggest that you

would reach out, and ask artists, and really ask

creative people.

And that might slow you down.

It might take you on a detour.

It might actually pose a problem that you

think is not important.

But generally speaking, I really think it's worth it.

You're also suggesting that when we run our conference

on our work, we invite a very diverse audience, including

artists, to just listen to what they have to say.

Yes, I mean, as much as I can celebrate artists,

there's no doubt that artists are elitist, arrogant.

Everything that I've been talking about in society,

that happens in art too, right?

In museums, they're sort of single minded,

snobbish, like super [? wide. ?] So there's so much

problems in art, and the solution is obviously a coming

together from all sides.

And I can tell you that engineers are not

that way, certainly not in this institution.


Let's go to the next question.

It comes from Professor [? Shaya. ?]

Some people in this audience have come here

from all the way from Mumbai.

Yeah, I have two questions.

One is a small question, and the next question

is a larger question.

The small question is what is the battery life in this?

2 and 1/2 years.

2 and 1/2 years is the short reply.

And the product life is about 10 years?

That would be quite fair to say.




So now the larger question is as follows.

You're not like having visited and surveyed

the areas in Africa, and developing countries--

I'm glad you didn't call it an underdeveloped country

and developing country.

So if you see the development goals,

one sees that any product that sort of helps directly

in poverty reduction makes a larger impact.

So your company like Little Sun, if it makes success,

and I'm sure it will, all the best for your product,

but what would be, based on your survey,

and visits to the African countries,

and other developing countries, what

could be a product that would sort of help

in the sort of livelihood opportunities,

so that poverty is reduced, and some

of the millennium development goals are achieved?

Did you get my question?

You said what product--

Which product would--

But I certainly do think that Little Sun participated

in exactly that.

We see in the environments that when you buy a Little Sun,

you're not spending money, you're

saving money because you free up approximately 90%

of your current expenditure on kerosene, or oil, or paraffin,

candles, whatever you do.

So there is a cost saving that you

could spend for something else.

You also see people making a profit selling them.

So as soon as the lamp reaches our market,

there's a normal profit margin in it

for everybody that moves towards the customer.

They make a profit.

So that's profit generated in that region.

You have better education, learning.

As I said before, that generates in turn,

it'll probably take 10-15 years, more profit, and more self

esteem, and understanding.

So there's a whole array of things

that happens when you introduce small products like this.

And that is, again, the same with all similar products.

We see a world of interconnectivity.

We see everybody in the world with a cell phone.

So giving people energy, I mean subsidizing light,

is relatively easy.

So you could burn a little bit of oil, or whatever

you want to get light, but it's pretty hard

to charge your cell phone with a candle.

So subsidizing the energy needed to supply

energy for a smartphone, or an iPhone,

or that kind of appliances, that's a natural next step.

And these products are coming out everywhere.

I mean, we're seeing smartphones just

growing in the African market, and in the Indian market,


Today, there is way more cell phones in Africa

than in Europe.

Right now, Europe is slightly ahead on the smartphone market,

but that will only last maybe two years.

So these are coming, and that again,

connects us all completely, going back

to the social media thing.

So delivering the energy to do that--

and we are seeing education platforms going out,

and that kind of media as well creating jobs.

I mean, that really means that you could live in a rural area,

anywhere in the world, delivering software

to General Electrics, just to give an example.

Because we will be able to work-- the reason

they can't do that today is because they don't have

the computer, and they don't have the energy

to run the computer.

Right now, in India, I could buy a little laptop, $38,

which is actually a sum that most of our customers

could come up with, if they really wanted.

But right now, they can't run it because they

don't have the internet.

But if we can deliver autonomous energy,

and small digital devices, then the world

will truly come together.

And I certainly think that will help

a lot of the millennium goals.

The Little Sun project feels like a side project.

If you're shaping shared experiences

in art spaces for people to participate in,

this feels like a much more personal or small scale


And for you, it also seems very different from work

that you've done before.

So how would you say that this is

going to influence your work going forward,

and are the two kinds of projects going

to converge at some point?

And do you think that it's a path that you

would like to continue along?

There are several components in the Little Sun Project

that are different from my other work,

but there is also a lot that is overlapping.

The whole idea about questioning or investigating self-esteem.

The idea of feeling resourceful, but also

the idea of feeling interconnected,

the idea of sharing a project, participating in a project.

This lends itself very well to online exchange of information.

We have a lot of people who through Facebook or some media

uploads images that didn't see that camera before.

We had some, so there was somebody just uploaded

this picture, and we're getting all that.

So looking at a little closer, there's

actually lots of components which are in my other works.

I feel that there will be an increasing cross pollanization

between the two.

Also, I am having my first one person

show in the modern museum of Addis Ababa.

Had I not been involved with this,

I would not have met these people.

One of our great retailers in Dakar, Senegal,

she also has a gallery.

So in an odd way, they're not really very often,

but sometimes there is this situation.

And yes, so for me, I don't shift between the two.

But it's interesting.

And maybe also something that I'm just

trying to understand and learn is that I suddenly

have more contact with politicians,

the type of decisions makers who are sort of in the policy

world, the NGOs, the UN, the kind of groups

who are working with awareness on energy related,

health related.

And it's very interesting.

This year I went to Davos, where we met, Nadia,

and so in a very interesting way,

I can always look at people, and I could say--

so they asked me, what are you doing?

So a very Davos-ian kind of question.

What do you do?

And I could say I'm an artist, or I could

say I'm in the energy sector.

Or I could say I'm in the bottom of pyramid

economical sort of development, or something like this.

So it's very interesting.

And I love this kind of relativity of what you do,

especially if what one-- sometimes

if you say I'm an artist, people just go oh no.

And you know, sometimes it's also better

not to say it's a work of art because then people say,

oh yeah, I see.

It's a work of art.


But yeah, I'm learning a lot more

than I used to only working in the more conventional museums.

That's for sure.

All right.

So I think on that important note, we're at 6:30,

and I know you have to be at Media Labs by 7,

and I want people to meet you in person as well.

So we will bring this session to a close.

And I will note that one thing that's

really important for all of us who are working at the Data

Center for Creating Solutions for Resource Constrained

Markets is to remember that this is all, in some ways,

about happiness.

If we did it right, if we met the human needs,

I think a behavior that we are engineering

for is indeed happiness.

And I hope we remember that going out of this session.

So thank you so much for your generously spending

so much time with us.

No, thank you.

Please come back, and we would love

to show you what we've come up with,

and get your thoughts on it.

Thank you.


The Description of Olafur Eliasson at MIT: Turning ideas into action