Tuesday, May 28, 2013

TED on Tuesday: Philippe Petit, High-Wire Artist

Philippe Petit during his 1974 Twin Towers walk
Philippe Petit is a French high-wire artist who gained fame for his high-wire walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, on 7 August 1974. Petit, who was born in France, discovered magic and juggling at an early age, and at 16, he took his first steps on the wire.

"Within one year," he told a reporter, "I taught myself to do all the things you could do on a wire. I learned the backward somersault, the front somersault, the unicycle, the bicycle, the chair on the wire, jumping through hoops. But I thought, 'What is the big deal here? It looks almost ugly.' So I started to discard those tricks and to reinvent my art."

World Trade Center walk
On August 7, 1974, Petit stepped onto a wire strung between the Twin Towers. Balancing 110 stories in the air, Petit played on the tightrope for 40 minutes to the wonder and amazement of the people watching on the ground. Petit was arrested as he left the wire, but as the police cuffed him, he had a huge grin across his face—for he had achieved a feat everyone, including himself at times, had thought impossible.

“The impossible — we are told — cannot be achieved,” Petit tells the TED blog in a Q&A about his new eBook. “To overcome the ‘impossible’ we need to use our wits and be fearless.”

The story of Petit’s walk was brilliantly told in the documentary film, Man On Wire, by UK director James Marsh. Petit has told the story in his own words, in his book To Reach The Clouds, also republished as Man on Wire.

In this TED talk, Philippe Petit recalls the walk, talks about finding your passion, and makes the case for confronting your fears and attempting the ‘impossible’.


Today, Petit shares his time between New York City where he is an artist in residence at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, and a home in the Catskills.

If you are unfamiliar with Philippe Petit and his walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, this YouTube video includes a number of images of Philippe taken during the event.


More Information
Philippe Petit on Wikipedia... [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippe_Petit]
Buy the Man On Wire DVD at Amazon.Com... Man On Wire [DVD]
Buy the Man on Wire book at Amazon.Com... Man on Wire

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