full transcript

From the Ted Talk by Luke Syson: How I learned to stop worrying and love "useless" art

Unscramble the Blue Letters

It's not an escapism that we feel particularly happy with today, however. And again, going on tnkiihng about this, I realize that in a way we're all victims of a certain kind of tnyrnay of the triumph of modernism whereby form and function in an object have to follow one another, or are deemed to do so. And the extraneous ornament is seen as really, essentially, criminal. It's a triumph, in a way, of burioegos values rather than aristocratic ones. And that seems fine. Except for the fact that it becomes a kind of sequestration of imagination. So just as in the 20th century, so many people had the idea that their faith took place on the Sabbath day, and the rest of their lives — their lives of winhasg machines and orthodontics — took place on another day. Then, I think we've started doing the same. We've allowed ourselves to lead our fntsaay lives in front of sreecns. In the dark of the cinema, with the television in the corner of the room. We've eliminated, in a ssnee, that constant of the imagination that these vases represented in people's lveis. So maybe it's time we got this back a little. I think it's beginning to happen. In ldoonn, for example, with these extraordinary buildings that have been appearing over the last few years. Redolent, in a sense, of science fitcoin, turning London into a kind of fantasy playground. It's actually amazing to look out of a high bliuindg nowadays there. But even then, there's a resistance. London has called these buildings the Gherkin, the Shard, the Walkie Talkie — bringing these soarnig buildings down to Earth. There's an idea that we don't want these anxious-making, imaginative jenyruos to happen in our dialy lives. I feel lucky in a way, I've encountered this object. (lehuatgr) I found him on the Internet when I was looking up a reference. And there he was. And unlike the pink ehalenpt vase, this was a kind of love at first sight. In fact, radeer, I mriread him. I bhougt him. And he now adorns my office. He's a Staffordshire figure made in the middle of the 19th century. He represents the actor, Edmund Kean, playing Shakespeare's rhiracd III. And it's based, actually, on a more elevated piece of porcelain. So I loved, on an art historical lveel, I loved that layered quality that he has. But more than that, I love him. In a way that I think would have been iiboslmspe without the pink Sèvres vase in my Leonardo days. I love his orange and pink breeches. I love the fact that he seems to be going off to war, having just finished the washing up. (Laughter) He seems also to have forgotten his sword. I love his pink little cheeks, his munchkin energy. In a way, he's become my sort of alter ego. He's, I hope, a little bit dignified, but mostly rather vlagur. (Laughter) And energetic, I hope, too. I let him into my life because the Sèvres pink elephant vase allowed me to do so. And before that laorendo, I understood that this object could become part of a journey for me every day, sitting in my office. I really hope that others, all of you, visiting objects in the museum, and taking them home and fnnidig them for yourselves, will allow those ocbejts to flourish in your imaginative lives. Thank you very much. (Applause)

Open Cloze

It's not an escapism that we feel particularly happy with today, however. And again, going on ________ about this, I realize that in a way we're all victims of a certain kind of _______ of the triumph of modernism whereby form and function in an object have to follow one another, or are deemed to do so. And the extraneous ornament is seen as really, essentially, criminal. It's a triumph, in a way, of _________ values rather than aristocratic ones. And that seems fine. Except for the fact that it becomes a kind of sequestration of imagination. So just as in the 20th century, so many people had the idea that their faith took place on the Sabbath day, and the rest of their lives — their lives of _______ machines and orthodontics — took place on another day. Then, I think we've started doing the same. We've allowed ourselves to lead our _______ lives in front of _______. In the dark of the cinema, with the television in the corner of the room. We've eliminated, in a _____, that constant of the imagination that these vases represented in people's _____. So maybe it's time we got this back a little. I think it's beginning to happen. In ______, for example, with these extraordinary buildings that have been appearing over the last few years. Redolent, in a sense, of science _______, turning London into a kind of fantasy playground. It's actually amazing to look out of a high ________ nowadays there. But even then, there's a resistance. London has called these buildings the Gherkin, the Shard, the Walkie Talkie — bringing these _______ buildings down to Earth. There's an idea that we don't want these anxious-making, imaginative ________ to happen in our _____ lives. I feel lucky in a way, I've encountered this object. (________) I found him on the Internet when I was looking up a reference. And there he was. And unlike the pink ________ vase, this was a kind of love at first sight. In fact, ______, I _______ him. I ______ him. And he now adorns my office. He's a Staffordshire figure made in the middle of the 19th century. He represents the actor, Edmund Kean, playing Shakespeare's _______ III. And it's based, actually, on a more elevated piece of porcelain. So I loved, on an art historical _____, I loved that layered quality that he has. But more than that, I love him. In a way that I think would have been __________ without the pink Sèvres vase in my Leonardo days. I love his orange and pink breeches. I love the fact that he seems to be going off to war, having just finished the washing up. (Laughter) He seems also to have forgotten his sword. I love his pink little cheeks, his munchkin energy. In a way, he's become my sort of alter ego. He's, I hope, a little bit dignified, but mostly rather ______. (Laughter) And energetic, I hope, too. I let him into my life because the Sèvres pink elephant vase allowed me to do so. And before that ________, I understood that this object could become part of a journey for me every day, sitting in my office. I really hope that others, all of you, visiting objects in the museum, and taking them home and _______ them for yourselves, will allow those _______ to flourish in your imaginative lives. Thank you very much. (Applause)

Solution

  1. building
  2. vulgar
  3. soaring
  4. elephant
  5. daily
  6. london
  7. finding
  8. married
  9. bought
  10. screens
  11. laughter
  12. fiction
  13. richard
  14. lives
  15. bourgeois
  16. thinking
  17. reader
  18. fantasy
  19. journeys
  20. tyranny
  21. impossible
  22. leonardo
  23. level
  24. objects
  25. sense
  26. washing

Original Text

It's not an escapism that we feel particularly happy with today, however. And again, going on thinking about this, I realize that in a way we're all victims of a certain kind of tyranny of the triumph of modernism whereby form and function in an object have to follow one another, or are deemed to do so. And the extraneous ornament is seen as really, essentially, criminal. It's a triumph, in a way, of bourgeois values rather than aristocratic ones. And that seems fine. Except for the fact that it becomes a kind of sequestration of imagination. So just as in the 20th century, so many people had the idea that their faith took place on the Sabbath day, and the rest of their lives — their lives of washing machines and orthodontics — took place on another day. Then, I think we've started doing the same. We've allowed ourselves to lead our fantasy lives in front of screens. In the dark of the cinema, with the television in the corner of the room. We've eliminated, in a sense, that constant of the imagination that these vases represented in people's lives. So maybe it's time we got this back a little. I think it's beginning to happen. In London, for example, with these extraordinary buildings that have been appearing over the last few years. Redolent, in a sense, of science fiction, turning London into a kind of fantasy playground. It's actually amazing to look out of a high building nowadays there. But even then, there's a resistance. London has called these buildings the Gherkin, the Shard, the Walkie Talkie — bringing these soaring buildings down to Earth. There's an idea that we don't want these anxious-making, imaginative journeys to happen in our daily lives. I feel lucky in a way, I've encountered this object. (Laughter) I found him on the Internet when I was looking up a reference. And there he was. And unlike the pink elephant vase, this was a kind of love at first sight. In fact, reader, I married him. I bought him. And he now adorns my office. He's a Staffordshire figure made in the middle of the 19th century. He represents the actor, Edmund Kean, playing Shakespeare's Richard III. And it's based, actually, on a more elevated piece of porcelain. So I loved, on an art historical level, I loved that layered quality that he has. But more than that, I love him. In a way that I think would have been impossible without the pink Sèvres vase in my Leonardo days. I love his orange and pink breeches. I love the fact that he seems to be going off to war, having just finished the washing up. (Laughter) He seems also to have forgotten his sword. I love his pink little cheeks, his munchkin energy. In a way, he's become my sort of alter ego. He's, I hope, a little bit dignified, but mostly rather vulgar. (Laughter) And energetic, I hope, too. I let him into my life because the Sèvres pink elephant vase allowed me to do so. And before that Leonardo, I understood that this object could become part of a journey for me every day, sitting in my office. I really hope that others, all of you, visiting objects in the museum, and taking them home and finding them for yourselves, will allow those objects to flourish in your imaginative lives. Thank you very much. (Applause)

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
italian renaissance 2
leonardo da 2
decorative arts 2
european sculpture 2
pink elephant 2

Important Words

  1. actor
  2. adorns
  3. allowed
  4. alter
  5. amazing
  6. appearing
  7. applause
  8. aristocratic
  9. art
  10. based
  11. beginning
  12. bit
  13. bought
  14. bourgeois
  15. breeches
  16. bringing
  17. building
  18. buildings
  19. called
  20. century
  21. cheeks
  22. cinema
  23. constant
  24. corner
  25. criminal
  26. daily
  27. dark
  28. day
  29. days
  30. deemed
  31. dignified
  32. earth
  33. edmund
  34. ego
  35. elephant
  36. elevated
  37. eliminated
  38. encountered
  39. energetic
  40. energy
  41. escapism
  42. essentially
  43. extraneous
  44. extraordinary
  45. fact
  46. faith
  47. fantasy
  48. feel
  49. fiction
  50. figure
  51. finding
  52. fine
  53. finished
  54. flourish
  55. follow
  56. forgotten
  57. form
  58. front
  59. function
  60. gherkin
  61. happen
  62. happy
  63. high
  64. historical
  65. home
  66. hope
  67. idea
  68. iii
  69. imagination
  70. imaginative
  71. impossible
  72. internet
  73. journey
  74. journeys
  75. kean
  76. kind
  77. laughter
  78. layered
  79. lead
  80. leonardo
  81. level
  82. life
  83. lives
  84. london
  85. love
  86. loved
  87. lucky
  88. machines
  89. married
  90. middle
  91. modernism
  92. munchkin
  93. museum
  94. nowadays
  95. object
  96. objects
  97. office
  98. orange
  99. ornament
  100. orthodontics
  101. part
  102. people
  103. piece
  104. pink
  105. place
  106. playground
  107. playing
  108. porcelain
  109. quality
  110. reader
  111. realize
  112. redolent
  113. reference
  114. represented
  115. represents
  116. resistance
  117. rest
  118. richard
  119. room
  120. sabbath
  121. science
  122. screens
  123. sense
  124. sequestration
  125. shard
  126. sight
  127. sitting
  128. soaring
  129. sort
  130. staffordshire
  131. started
  132. sword
  133. talkie
  134. television
  135. thinking
  136. time
  137. today
  138. triumph
  139. turning
  140. tyranny
  141. understood
  142. values
  143. vase
  144. vases
  145. victims
  146. visiting
  147. vulgar
  148. walkie
  149. war
  150. washing
  151. years