Holding Space with Trees in Kilpisjärvi, 2018. Photo: Martin Malthe Borch

Interfaces for Empathy (IfE) was an interdisciplinary art and science action tank that facilitated, studied and fostered everyday activism and ecological thinking through empathic methods. The action tank included artist Mari Keski-Korsu, researcher Maarit Laihonen and curator Petri Ruikka.

– Researches and develops empathic methodologies and tools for collaborative and collective intelligence, ecosystem understanding, action and co-creation
– Applies these tools and methods to and with: everyday activism, art, non-human and human communities, work environments, policy work, and other yet undefined participatory situations
– Fundamentally aims to address the crisis of humanity and encourage us to rethink our relation to the pressing environmental realities and social realms.

Background of IfE

The work is partly based on a process started with the collective curating for the Pixelache Helsinki Festival in 2016, that concentrated on empathy as a direct micro-level experience. My colleagues and collaborators on the collective curatorial project in 2016 were curator Petri Ruikka, professor/artist Laura Beloff, artist/organiser Egle Oddo and neuroscientists Katri Saarikivi and Valtteri Wikström.

In 2017, Petri Ruikka and myself invited social scientist Maarit Laihonen to work together as a group under the name Regenerative Notes – Reflecting and Developing Empathetic Practices in Post-Fossil World is an interdisciplinary research project. The work group directed its focus on studying empathy from macro-level perspective, leading us to extend our reflections from 2016 towards asking how to create deeper connections in the crisis of humanity and how to develop skills of existence for post-fossil life especially through empathy.

In 2018, the group divided itself from Pixelache to its’ own action tank called Interfaces for Empathy, according to the original name of the project. After about 2.5 years of active curating, organising and facilitating with IfE spent the the first half of 2018 with diving deeper into the research of the nature of empathy; to critically look it’s various qualities, strengths and limitations. The work group created the concept of action tank and defined its’ activities, created new networks, wrote articles, created methods for empathy and tested these in practice.

The outcomes of the work, in addition to the group research work, has been in the form of workshops and discussions on the contents and method of empathy in collaborative and collective intelligence and action.


IfE work has graciously been funded by the Kone Foundation since 2016. The foundational work for the project was done within the Pixelache platform in 2015-2016, and was also funded by the Ministry of Education, Helsinki City and Finnish Cultural Foundation.

In 2018, Kone Foundation funded IfE.

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