Interfacing Empathy

30 November 2017

SPACE Mare Street
Thu 30 Nov, 6.30 – 9pm
£7 / £4

Join artist in residence Leah Clements for a co-inquiry into the potential of virtual reality to induce empathy. Working in collaboration with journalist Charlie Brinkhurst Cuff and VR researcher Dr. Sylvia Xueni Pan, Leah invites participants to explore how human presence is simulated within virtual space – what is lost, what is gained?

As a group we will take a look at recent key VR experiences that have aimed to put the viewer in the place of the subject, and will measure how affected the user is by the experience. We will talk about the social, ethical and practical implications of using VR in this way, asking: How can this technology increase our emotional reactions to the content? What does it mean for someone to produce an experience in virtual reality that is not based on their own life or perspective? What is the quality of engagement between the user and the subject presented inside the virtual world? Can VR induce heightened empathy, and do we want it to?

If you have any access requirements, please email to let us know.


Charlie Brinkhurst Cuff is a news and features writer, editor and creative with focuses on race, feminism, media, youth culture and social politics. She is the opinions editor at gal-dem, the weekend editor at Dazed and a Guardian freelancer, for whom she recently wrote the article ‘Virtual reality is no match for the empathetic generation’ She is the winner of the 2017 Georgina Henry Award for Innovation in Journalism. 

Dr. Sylvia Xueni Pan is a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Virtual Reality at Goldsmiths, University of London. She previously worked at the Institute of Cognitive NeuroscienceUniversity College London (UCL) where she remains an honorary research fellow. Her current research interest is using VR in the study of social cognition, and her PhD thesis consists of several VR experimental studies in understanding social anxiety.