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THE NEXT LIST
2011 Agents of Change: Marco Tempest, Heather Knight, Scott Snibbe, Homaro Cantu, Christopher Brosius and Tristan Eaton
Aired January 8, 2012 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, HOST: Hello, and welcome to THE NEXT LIST, and happy New Year. I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
You know, recently we began this experiment of meeting and profiling what we've been referring to as agents of change. They're innovators who see opportunities where others do not, often facing resistance in the process. And while they had that in common, they come from very different fields. How different? Take a look.
MARCO TEMPEST, CYBER ILLUSIONIST: My name is Marco Tempest. I'm a cyber illusionist, which means I combine magic and science to create illusions.
It's deception, it's science, technology, gadgets. Calling myself a magician evokes a certain - a certain image. Like if we hear magician, we immediately know what that is. It's a guy who does a magic trick.
A cyber illusionist, it requires a little bit of explanation. It's a conversation starter, and that's really what my work is all about.
HEATHER KNIGHT, RESEARCHER, CARNEGIE-MELLON UNIVERSITY: My name is Heather Knight and I am a doctoral researcher at Carnegie-Mellon University, and I study social robotics.
DATA, HEATHER'S ROBOT: They call me "Data the Robot." Gosh, I love saying that.
KNIGHT: A social roboticist is someone that makes robots that can interact with people in a human way.
When I tell people that I make robots, they're usually like oh, wow, that's really cool. And when I tell people I make social robots, usually they're a little bit confused at first, and I found that the best way to talk about what I actually do is by example.
DATA: Heather, how about you get working on that emotion program?
KNIGHT: We're trying.
DATA: Fair enough.
I am a robot. Yes, a robot. But if you prick us in our battery pack, do we not bleed our alkaline fluid?
SCOTT SNIBBE, INTERACTIVE ARTIST: I wish there was a word that was something like an interactivist. You know, writers can sell books and scripts and things like that. Musicians can sell songs and albums. Filmmakers can sell films and movie tickets. But people who make interactive stuff, the only place that we've talked about that is either in game development or in art.
Hi. I'm Scott Snibbe. I'm an interactive artist, and I'm the founder of Snibbe Interactive and Scott Snibbe Studio.
So I have two businesses here. Snibbe Interactive creates interactive installations and experiences that use your whole body as the - as the input and the output. You don't need a pen, a stylus or even your finger touching something. You just move into space and it starts responding to you, and it's really a form of magic. It's like bringing - literally like bringing your dreams to life.
HOMARO CANTU, CHEF AND MOLECULAR GASTRONOMIST: My name is Homaro Cantu, and I'm a molecular gastronomist. I own Moto, iNG and Cantu Designs in Chicago.
A molecular gastronomist is really just someone who explores the world of science and food. We're always playing with your expectations as to what this food could be.
We use a lot of different tools - centrifuges, sonifiers, lasers. We're actually starting to work with some super conductors. If you look at, you know, the limitations of creating new products, you're only limited by the technology that you have to work with.
GUPTA: Robots, food, magic - seemingly not a lot in common, but when you start to connect the dots, you'll find the DNA that these agents of change all share. They follow a personal passion, and, for some, that passion is something they grow to know.
But it's not the case for everyone on THE NEXT LIST. When we come back, you'll meet the perfect example of an agent of change who was born with the ability to do what he loves.
We'll have much more of THE NEXT LIST right after this.
GUPTA: Welcome back to the special edition of THE NEXT LIST. I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Agent of change - it's a person who thinks a little differently, while championing positive change. We're finding that for many, through family and friends, teachers and mentors, they grow to discover their passions. But for perfumer Christopher Brosius, he just followed his nose. CHRISTOPHER BROSIUS, CB I HATE PERFUME: I'm Christopher Brosius. My company is CB I Hate Perfume. I am the perfumer and founder.
I Hate Perfume. I am the perfumer, obviously, creative director, founder, et cetera, whatever you want to do, I am the company.
I can remember scent very, very accurately, which I'm told from even like really excellent researchers at the Monell Center in Philadelphia that people can't do this. I can't imagine how they can't, but I'm told they can't.
The point is, I catalogue smells in my head. I remember them, I can pull them and start arranging them in my head without even doing anything physically. And I've gotten to the point where that becomes very useful for me when I'm composing perfumes.
So if I know all of the smells that I want to use and I have all of the smells that I want to use, it's a very short trip from there to getting something in a bottle. I mean, when I first started, the first perfume that I made, it was like 135 variations. Now, I can frequently knock one out in three to five.
I can be walking around and just sort of staring off into space and, you know, appearing distracted or focused or what have you, when in fact, I am working.
I never, in those early years, referred to myself as a perfumer. It seemed really disrespectful not only to the people, but the process. I mean, there were people who had been to the old schools in France, who had a kind of knowledge that I didn't, and couldn't begin to without that training.
It was in 2000, actually in June of 2000, after I'd won the first two of my four foundation awards, I was being interviewed by Michael Edwards, who is, perhaps, the world's foremost authority on perfume new and old, and he was asking me about the scent that I had won the awards for, which was Snow. And it was a scent that I had wanted for years, that I worked on with countless labs. Finally, I made it myself.
And then, on one of the most bizarre nights I've ever had in my entire life, I suddenly found myself on stage at Avery Fisher Hall, shaking hands with Alan Cumming and kissing Joan Rivers, saying thank you for this thing that - how did this happen?
Thank you all very, very, very much.
But Michael interviewed me a few weeks later and he was asking me, all right, well for this perfume, you know, who made it? I said, well, you know, I got this material from them and that material came from over there, and this one came from them, and that and that, et cetera. He said, yes, but who put it together?
And I said, oh, I did. And he said, oh, so you're the perfumer. I said, oh, no, no, no. I never call myself a perfumer. And he said why? And I told him exactly what I told you, that it seemed disrespectful.
And he said, no, Christopher, you need to understand that you are a natural born nose. You are someone who once in a generation, someone comes along who can simply do this. You're like Francois Coty. You have no training, and yet you can make perfume.
I sat there, I'm somewhat embarrassed to say, with my jaw hanging open, going, OK. But it did make me think. And, little by little, I was like no, this is - this is a major aspect of who I am. I am a perfumer.
So, eventually I started putting it on my business cards and when people ask, you know, what is it you do? Instead of like, oh, I run this business, or I - you know, I do stuff for this company, it's like I am a perfumer.
GUPTA: So some agents of change discovered their passion over time, while others are born into it. But it's their commitment to what they do that writes their legacy, and it's that devotion mixed with achievements that earns them a spot on THE NEXT LIST, where they actually sign their name to the list.
It's a nod to another agent of change who lived centuries ago and was known for his mirror writing. Think you know who it is? We'll have the answer when we come back.
GUPTA: On each episode of THE NEXT LIST you literally see all of our agents of change adding their names to the list. You see, before the show began, we considered having historic agents of change and, of course, that led us to inventor, painter, mathematician and all-around Renaissance Man, Leonardo da Vinci.
Da Vinci was also known for his mirror writing. So when were looking for a creative way to visually express our list of great thinkers, we decided to have everyone write their own names backwards, and our next agent of change decided to take that process of adding his name to the list to a whole new level. But what else would you expect from an artist?
TRISTAN EATON, ARTIST: Hi. I'm Tristan Eaton. I'm an artist, and I live in Brooklyn, New York.
This is one of my paintings, right behind me. The two sides of my work are, one, my personal work, which is painting and mostly figurative paintings that are exploring the notion of beauty, and I end up doing those mostly as street murals and canvass work. And then, the other side of me is Thunderdog, my design studio, where we do a lot of mixed media, experimental digital work.
The last few years has been like a - a huge influx of art meeting commerce, where artists are working with brands to make, you know, every kind of product you can name. You know, artists can't solely survive just off of selling paintings.
In the last 10 years, there's been a lot of brands that do collaborations with artists, and that finances them. They're not selling a painting, they're licensing their art for an ad campaign. That brand is working like a patron of the arts, the way the Church used to for Michelangelo.
There's a few projects that Thunderdog has done that are a perfect example of what I loved about doing commercial art and - and collaborating with brands. We worked with Puma last year on their Faas Lab campaign, which is for Usain Bolt, the runner.
Dell computers two years ago asked me to design some laptop covers for them.
I ended up creating three posters for the Vote for Change campaign.
We've done a lot of crazy work, all based around art, but anything from, you know, exhibitions to toys to giant street art projects to clothing, to advertising campaigns. You know, it's all been fair game.
The majority of the - the products that Thunderdog does support my art and the art projects that I want to make and I believed in, and things that I want to do and put out into the world. And the Thunderdog team is there to support it and make it happen.
You look at the contributions artists have made to society, and you realize how important it is. When I say art, I'm talking about film, music, literature. That's how we form our perception of the world, is - is mostly through the arts.
The viewer will see that work and see that soul in the final product. That can be important for society on a whole. That kind of communication that happens through art, with emotions that aren't easily described, I think is imperative.
Every artist in history has had to find a way to make art that sells; and, at the same time, is something they're good at; and, at the same time, is something they love doing. And, if you're really lucky, you'll have all those three things happen at the same time.
It's really tough to find that equation that clicks for you, you know? When you're talking about if it sells and if it's popular, but on a personal level for an artist, you're trying to find that combination of what you want to say, how you want to express yourself, and what materials you're going to use to do that. Eventually you find that, and it can turn on like a faucet.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) GUPTA: Welcome back to this very special edition of THE NEXT LIST. I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Agent of change - it's a term we use frequently to refer to individuals who are following a personal passion to make positive change. Sometimes they find that passion quite by accident, and other times it's as if they were born to do nothing else.
No matter how they find it, though, it's a passion that always has them looking to the future.
DATA: Ready. Show me a postcard.
KNIGHT: I'm very excited about a future where we have robots in our everyday life. I think that entertainment robots are probably one of the first applications that could be fruitful because they can pay for themselves if you have a big audience of people on stage.
I think that artists use the medium of their time, and right now that medium is technology. So I think it's the new interface for being creative.
DATA: Times Square, home of the tourists. A lot of those in New York. Well now, any of you guys tourists?
KNIGHT: One thing that's really important to me is to create technology that - that brings us together and doesn't divide us.
I have this crazy idea that maybe we could come to a world where we replace not people by robots, but computers by robots. Like how about making technology more human, and I think, in effect, that will also make us more able to fulfill our own objectives and to connect with each other.
SNIBBE: And I think the future is a little bit scary. You know, I - I tell people, enjoy these last 10 robot-free years. You know, it's going to - there're going to be robots walking down the street in - I don't know, maybe even 15 years.
At least for the next 10 years or so it's more like what I'm doing, like, you know, she'll - she'll grow up never knowing that every screen should be touch sensitive and interactive.
TEMPEST: I think maybe a theme or like an overarching theme, will be that in my work I constantly have to solve problems and get acquainted with new things, and that's a really big theme in all our lives. You know, our lives change so rapidly and we have to adjust to all these new things coming into our lives, and maybe watching my show puts that in a more lighthearted view, so to speak.
What I put out is not the end of things. It's the beginning, if I succeed. It's the beginning of a conversation, it's the beginning of real engagement.
I think artists these days have to find ways to show what they do and their point of view, and who they are, to find audiences which are attracted to that, to that combination of things.
So, I think my work talks about creativity, being yourself, showing yourself to your audience, hopefully, and treating them nicely and giving them a magical experience.
EATON: The thing about making art is that it's going to live on after you. In some ways I put my art before myself, and in a lot of ways the art is more important than me. The work kind of has its own life after you, and you want to make sure that its legacy and its lifespan is the way you want it, you know? And you only have a limited time to control that before you're gone.
If I had to give an artist one piece of advice, the thing that helped me, what I would say is that you have to commit to it for life. Once you make that commitment, a lot of things become easier. You don't worry about short-term accolades; you don't worry about climbing a ladder.
When you commit so much that you know you're going to be doing it the rest of your life no matter what, it doesn't really matter so much what happens this month or this year because you know you're going to spend your whole life doing it.
CANTU: I think the most satisfying thing about what I do is, you know, we already know that our food tastes good and it's creative, is that we're able to focus on the future and we're able to create futuristic things here today; to know that we're one step ahead of the curve. And I don't look at the future as something that could be negative. I look at it as an opportunity to create a whole new economy and to create a whole new world that's exciting to live in.
But, you know, I'm still a kid at heart with this place, and we're still always creating things that explode and light on fire, just for our own personal amusement, usually.
BROSIUS: It's funny because like the paradox of perfume is always, it tells everything about me and it tells nothing about me. And you can smell through here forever and it's like these are - these things are all me.
They're extensions of me. These are, you know, like me in a bottle, and yet there's no way for other people to truly access that. So, it reveals everything, it reveals nothing.
Perfume is the most intangible art. There is, you know, it's not like - even music, you can sit in a concert hall and people can play it and everybody can appreciate it on a very similar level. Perfume isn't like that. Perfume starts, it tells the story it's designed to tell, and then it is gone.
You know, it really is like life. It begins and it ends; and when it ends, it's over.
Sometimes perfumes have to be discontinued because the materials that go in them no longer exist. That story, then, is over. It will never be told again. I think that is one of the things that makes perfume beautiful, because it will be gone. And that's life.
GUPTA: Well, thanks for joining us for this special look at these incredible people.
If you want to learn more about the agents of change, visit our website, CNN.com/TheNextList, or my life stream, at CNN.com/Sanjay.
Thanks so much for watching. Happy New Year. We'll see you back next Sunday.