Interfaces for Empathy
The fifteenth annual Pixelache Festival took place from September 22nd to 25th 2016 in Helsinki. The festival named ‘Interfaces for Empathy’ explored possibilities of the shift towards the understanding of human species as a balanced part of the ecosystem we live within. The idea that the festival explored and the way it seek to connect several different trajectories, was one of empathy. Is it possible, through this very basic ability to sense or identify, to change the narrative of the human-kind? Could empathy be one of the key elements in reconnecting us with our ecosystem and ourselves? Can we experience empathy towards whole ecosystems? After all, empathy is the element that has enabled humans to work together and collaborate in order to flourish as species. The festival questioned and proposed that maybe empathy could be learned, found or especially re-found through eg. bodily presence, experimental communication and embodied and alternate visions of perception.
The festival programme consisted of participatory projects, workshops, installations, presentations and discussions. Most of the programme and events had some kind of bodily dimension in them. For example, Machine to Be Another -project enabled people to swop bodies and see through another’s eyes and a seminar about cellular empathy happened in hot-tubs in a ritualistic form. In the many workshops, the participants learned to work with their dreams, to communicate with other species, to design technology for the urban animals, to sing with the landscape among other experiments.
Interfaces for Empathy -festival’s main venue was the former Lapinlahti hospital area that created a very special atmosphere and opened many possibilities for the festival programme to happen indoors in the historical hospital premises but also outdoors by the sea and park as well as in sauna and hot tubs. Other festival venues were Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, MUU Galleries, Helsinki City Winter Garden and Temporary.
After the festival, parts of the programme were taken to Jyväskylä in 14. – 16.10.2016 (in collaboration with Live Herring) and to Rovaniemi 3. – 6.11.2016 (in collaboration with Magneetti). Genomic Gastronomy’s ‘To Flavour Our Tears’ triggered the tastes of Jyväskylä people, to make our bodies more favorable for other animals to eat them and Various Artists continued their emphatic trade experiments all the way from Helsinki festival to Jyväskylä and finally to Rovaniemi. In Jyväskylä, also Katri Saarikivi and Valtteri Wickström lead a workshop towards emphatic technology.
Interfaces for Empathy was co-directed by Mari Keski-Korsu and Petri Ruikka.
The collaborative curating team consisted of artist Laura Beloff (IT University of Copenhagen), neuroscientists Katri Saarikivi and Valtteri Wickström (Helsinki University), artis & Pixelache member Egle Oddo as well as many other Pixelache members.
Please see the full programme at empathy.pixelache.ac
A catalogue of ‘Interfaces of Empathy’ -festival was published as well.
Pixelache Festival was generously supported by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture, the City of Helsinki Cultural Office, Kone Foundation, The Finnish Cultural Foundation and AVEK – The Promotion Center for Audiovisual Culture.
Most photos on this page by Antti Ahonen, some by Petri Ruikka and maybe two by Mari Keski-Korsu.