multi-disciplinary artist & futures designer

Next Senses
- Electronic Empathy

Inner peace is precarious. Electronic Empathy questions the sensory overstimulation in urban environments and people's incapacity to deal with that, either desensitizing themselves or living in a permanent state of hyperarousal. This film follows a man who decided to implant a 'sense of empathy' into his forehead, activating an AI that runs on facial recognition algorithms. As soon as the protagonist Jan gets overstimulated, he activates the AI and outsources his sense of empathy to "John". John scans the biometric data of the people who Jan interacts with, and communicates a mathematically ‘perfect’ version of empathy to its human (inter)face, so that John can be social without needing to be engaged.

Electronic Empathy is a platform to start thinking about the implications of programmable systems of artificial intelligence that simulate humanity while they are really controlled, unconscious and biased versions of our humanity. It also inspires a conversation on privacy, consent, and the current trend of seeing algorithms (and AI) as the go-to solution to improve humanity and ultimately society.
The artist also provokes a conversation about the trend of depicting objectified feminine AI voices in film (e.g. Her, Bladerunner) rather than offering a diverse palate of archetypes, masculine and feminine, Western and non-Western. The intimate portrait of two males living in sync with one-another, offers a different perspective on man-machine relationships than we usually see in Hollywood.

Exhibited at Labyrinth of the Senses (Sept. 2019) and van Gogh Museum Amsterdam (Nov. 2019)
Language: Dutch + English subtitles

In collaboration with Next Nature Network and Alain de Bruijn. Commissioned by Citysenses.

This production is supported by: Rabobank, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Cultuurfonds Almere, Gemeente Almere, ANBI, Arc2 Architecten, AMR, Voordekunst, TSR, Active Health Foundation.

Gratitude to: Amsterdam's Welvaren Leadership Centre and Andy Chaleff (actor)