Empathy Ecologies

show overview
Performance & Installation
6-3-2020
Amsterdam
Mondriaanfonds; Frascati Amsterdam 'Come Together'. February 6, 2020

A poetic, interactive performance installation for the question:
Can biofeedback data grow plants-human empathy ecologies?

EMPATHY ECOLOGIES is a poetic, interactive performance installation for future empathetic human-plant connections. Plants are known to respond to human presence, sound and (aggressive or caring) communication. The installation, a baroque, flowery aerial root plants mini-forest, invites participants to perform a new embodied ‘empathy-practice’ with plants. In the performance, Brain-to-Brain and CO2 biofeedback from shared intimate physical connections, such as of kissing and caressing, is translated to an algorithm and data-audification. Plants and humans together co-create and explore a unique, immersive soundscape, a planetary Empathy Symphony.

ECOLOGIES

The Empathy Ecologies experiment is meant for affecting planetary yet unpredictable Ecologies of Empathy. Today’s dominant approach to sustainable eco-systems is taking action FOR NATURE. We solve problems: we improve agro-culture, we save forests, we fly less. Although important, on the long term, this approach still puts human activity central, in an Anthropocene view: opposite to nature. Empathy Ecologies explores a fundamentally different approach. It proposes an empathetic system for all human and non-human ecological beings. For humans WITH NATURE.

Empathy Ecologies explores a future biofeedback synthesis of plants and humans, based on empathy. Plants are known to respond to human presence, sound and (aggressive or caring) communication. In this human-plant-technology eco-system, the audience is invited to perform and share a new embodied ‘empathy-practice’ with plants. In the performance, biofeedback of shared intimate connections (of kissing and caressing) is translated to an algorithm and data-audification. Plants and humans together co-create and explore a unique, immersive soundscape, a planetary Empathy Symphony.

PERFORMANCE-INSTALLATION.

The installation’s theatrical architecture consists of various, nomadic aerial root plants hanging from the ceiling. Visually, the plant’s baroque roots, leaves and flowers create a transparent romantic ‘mini-forest’. The plants hang close together, in a circle. Inside the circle, an intimate space invites a maximum of four participants to enter. Visible for audience around, the semi-transparent forest seems to embrace the participants inside. Participants inside wear EEG headsets to measure their brain activity while kissing or carefully caressing each other’s faces. Simultaneously, biofeedback (CO2, nitrogen, oxygen) of plants close to their bodies is measured. The resulting bio-feedback data, of both plants and participants, are real-time compared and combined. The shared human-plant bio-feedback is real-time processed in an algorithm and translated to data-visualization and data-audification (soundscape). Plants and humans together co-create a musical environment, in turn affecting a shared atmosphere in space.

Practical details: The human-plant-technology eco-system of EEG measuring kissing and caressing is hosted by the artists. The performance installation is meant for participants and approx. 50 spectators, both vital to the event. 4 participants at the time wear EEG headsets, changing approximately every 15 minutes.