Bridging the Crack

There is a crack, a crack in everythingThat's how the light gets in. — L. Cohen, Zen priest and writer

Austria – and especially Vienna – has a long tradition in bridging gaps, crossing boundaries and developing new creative opportunities in areas that did not even exist before. Vienna is especially creative when things don’t work out, when new approaches are required, old things need to be separated or when multiple domains need to be merged to create something new. In music, literature, theater, painting, medicine, and technology – Vienna always welcomed the misfits, the innovators, those recognizing the cracks in the continuum.

Cracks develop as old forms break and are essential for new forms to rise. Accepting radical impermanence is difficult, especially in a socio-cultural environment built on the bedrock or the Holy Roman Empire and the Monarchy of Austria-Hungary. Yet art and science were always an essential part of society as disruptors and this dichotomy created the tension critical for innovation.

Recognizing a crack not as an unfortunate occurrence of decay but as an opportunity to look inside, as a way for the light to get inside to see what makes the system work, to disclose the secrets and possibly to break the shell and expose new perspectives. The Japanese design of Wabi Sabi always preferred the imperfect, the intentionally or unintentionally damaged and the beauty of the unique form that is in stark contrast to the industrially produced uniformity.

To bridge the crack means to recognize the crack. To recognize the crack means to accept the crack. To accept the crack opens a whole different perspective and set of opportunities to realize new ideas. In the same way the negative space surrounding an object may at some times tell us more than the form of the object itself, a crack provides enhances our understanding.

Now recognizing the crack is only the beginning – we have the responsibility to act on our knowledge and as we bridge gaps East and West bring together people who would otherwise never meet to create unique new ideas that would otherwise not germinate. That is the function of a gathering, a conference like TEDx and it is the function that Austria had in the past and has today.