Watch the power of science meet the power of improvisation.

You know how TED talks – or even DJing – normally goes. Some omnipotent person stands on stage and everyone watches. Well, this one went a bit differently.

At at a TEDx event mounted by CERN (TEDx are independent of TED, though borrowing the format), Tim Exile took the stage with a live remix.

But keep watching: the beats make the crowd go wild and start dancing, first raving around the floor, then storming the stage. It’s like the nerdiest Boiler Room ever.

Tim Exile has been using this Reaktor rig for years; he dubs it Flow Machine. Here, it samples data center sounds and other CERN-related clips, but it’s really Tim’s power to improvise that makes things work. And here’s where spontaneous improvisation can do something that DJing (and most live sets) can’t. The crowd immediately gets what he’s doing, and as Tim told me recently by chat, the improvisatory element is an invitation to join in. There’s literally an element of audience participation, and that’s why people feel freed to let go and dance, even behind him onstage.

I don’t think this idiom has to fit everything. I love being an audience member and getting lost in sound and sight, left alone to my own experience. I even have vivid memories of being terrified of audience participation as a kid. But in a setting like this, there’s a different sort of connection being made that needs to be fun and participatory, and it works. And now I want all TED performances to involve a crowd of people wearing ID badges running up and dancing.


This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. An inventor of electronic instruments and a DJ, Tim Exile recorded sounds from the data centres of the Large Hadron Collider and mixed them with the sound of the audience at TEDxCERN to create a unique audio track. His performance brought the audience dancing onstage.

Tim Exile composes, improvises, and produces electronic music. He also invents and makes the electronic musical instruments. A violinist as a child, his life changed when he first heard house music. Ever since, he has been experimenting and exploring the world of sound with bootleg rave tapes, Djing, programming, drum and bass, before moving onto polished studio productions and creating instruments. Exile has a degree in philosophy and is also an occasional hermit. He has toured the world and released software creations in collaboration with tech music leaders Native Instruments.

About TEDx, x = independently organized event In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)

All that and the legendary Professor Brian Cox makes a cameo.

Seeing the connection between science topics we love and this sort of performance idiom is moving stuff.