The practical demands of modern life are not necessarily at odds with the pursuit of beauty and the preservation of nature, according to artist and innovator Daan Roosegaarde, a speaker at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2014. Roosegaarde says techno-poetry can be incorporated into buildings and roads – and even the air.

Here are some quotes from the clip. You can watch the full video at the top of this page.

On collaboration

“Do you know why you can’t tickle yourself? Because there is no surprise. If I tickle myself, my brain responds ‘Yeah, whatever’ and starts to ignore this information, to filter it away. But the moment you tickle your neighbour, that’s when you get an interaction.”

“If we want to explore something new, about the future, something we cannot control yet, it’s something that we have to do together. It’s literally programmed in our own body. I think this is very important when we think about the future of mobility or the future of energy or the future of our cities. How can we merge the worlds of nature and technology and make places feel more human again? Techno-poetry merges the worlds of nature and future.”

On ‘smart’ roads

“Why is it, when we talk about mobility, everybody focuses on the car? To make it more glamorous or more sexy or more energy-efficient. But the roads, which actually determine the way our cities look … who cares about them? I think this is really weird. Why can’t a road be an interface of information, of experience? Why can it not be an icon?”

“It’s about poetry, but also pragmatism. I explore this new world out of frustration, out of love – obsession, maybe.”

On a smog-free park in Beijing

“We’re not saying this is the solution, because it’s not – that’s clean industry, electric cars, we all know that. But the real challenge is, I think, how to get there, and by making a place which is 75% cleaner than the rest of the city, people can literally smell the difference, feel the difference. You can see the difference, and that will create, I think, the right incentive to work together to make the whole city smog-free.”

On making people see they can be part of the solution

“I think that’s the way to discover, to reconnect the worlds of poetry with pragmatism – the worlds of fantasy and Excel sheets – and I think if that’s the way we start to think and to do; there’s a whole new world to discover.”

Author: Daan Roosegaarde, Dutch artist and innovator. Founder of Studio Roosegaarde.

Image: Vehicles jam a national highway alongside a public commuter train (L) during rush hour in Manila May 2, 2007. REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo