Celebrating its 10th class, the 2019 TED Fellows program welcomes a fleet of artists, inventors and entrepreneurs from a dozen countries and four continents. The honorees work across several industries and mediums, ranging from documentary photography and investigative journalism to urban astrophysics and space environmentalism—they come in to the program with work in progress and unanswered questions and bring the TED community along for their journeys. All of the announced fellows will be presenting at TED 2019 (15-19 April) in Vancouver, BC.
Every year when we attend TED, the Fellows program delivers some of the most inspiring moments all week. As the initiative now enters its 10th year, we’re more impressed than ever that the program just keeps getting better and better. TED Fellows are carving out inventive and inspirational spaces for themselves and others, and we’re always excited to hear from all of them, but here are a few in particular we’re looking forward to.
Kenyan musician and cultural advocate Muthoni Ndonga creates music at the intersection of traditional African drum beats and contemporary hip-hop and pop formulas. The result is genre bending and indexing, and Muthoni Drummer Queen (her stage name) exists as both a historical reference to ancient rhythms and a shining star in new African cultural movements. With four albums to her name, Ndonga is pushing her work out to a broader audience with talks, public appearances and efforts to promote cultural entrepreneurship.
Based in the US, inventor and technologist Arnav Kapur works to develop AI technology for those living with speech disabilities. His latest project, AlterEgo, is a wearable device that allows users to communicate neurally with an AI assistant (just by thinking of a command or question) and receive responses via bone-induction speakers. The entire exchange is internalized, and as if the AI was working in tandem with a user’s brain.
A Japanese artist working across mediums including music, film and multimedia, Hiromi Ozaki’s main goal is to document and investigate new technologies. Surveying the ethical and social consequences of innovation, Ozaki—under the moniker Sputniko!—creates installations, films and music videos that explore the relationship between humanity and rapidly advancing tech, specifically focused on gender. Her project Tokyo Medical University for Rejected Women tackles the disparity of women’s admission into one of Tokyo’s most accredited medical schools.
Kiana Hayeri (born in Tehran, now based between Afghanistan and Iran) is a documentary photographer who approaches intimate situations in marginalized communities with a raw but tender lens. Her work includes series of photographs that observe the lives of single mothers in Afghanistan, hopeful youth in war-stricken territory and asylum-seekers splitting their time between their home-to-be and the land they fled. Hayeri was a 2016 TED Fellow, and is one of the organizations newly selected senior fellows. Her work can be seen in numerous publications (from Brown Book Magazine to Harper’s) as well as group exhibitions and for institutions including Child Soldiers Afghanistan and UNICEF.
Images courtesy of respective fellows