Library of Ourselves is an interdisciplinary and distributed project to create transformative encounters between communities in conflict. It was built using The Machine To Be Another (TMBA), a highly adaptable Creative Commons system that bridges cognitive science and virtual reality techniques to create empathic-driven experiences.
Scientific research of ’embodiment’ systems using VR has shown that inducing a perceptual illusion of inhabiting another person’s body has great potential in reducing implicit racial bias and promoting altruism. Library of Ourselves combines a novel embodiment system, an immersive archive, and a distributed research toolkit to allow users to exchange perspectives, bodies, and stories. It is designed as a highly scalable and accessible tool to foster and investigate empathy between groups.
lmplemented in social and cultural institutions, this multipurpose tool of physical and virtual encounters works as a door to the perspective of others, designed to bridge cultures and to promote mutual understanding.
The Library of Ourselves functions as more than just the “system”, “content”, or “event”; it is a replicable structure/methodology for:
- Creating content through collaboration with local communities/grassroots organizations.
- Creating audiences in partnership with local arts/culture institutions.
- Generating new insights on the effects of this content in collaboration with international academic partners.
The overarching goal of creating measurable social change in local communities around issues of migration and marginalization is amplified by creating interconnections to allow joint work between those involved. For example audiences and grassroots organizations and audiences affected by content can engage more deeply with community organizing issues through co-designed opportunities, creating real world change.
BeAnotherLab: Philippe Bertrand (FR/BR), Christian Cherene (UK), Norma Deseke (DE), JJ Devereaux (IE), Daniel Gonzalez Franco (CO), Daanish Masood (SA), Marte Roel (MX), Arthur Tres (FR),
Alessandra Vidotti (IT/BR)
BeAnotherLab is an interdisciplinary multinational group dedicated to understanding, communicating, and expanding subjective experience. Their work focuses on understanding the relationship between identity and empathy from an embodied perspective. Since 2012 the group has used virtual reality and techniques derived from neuroscientific research in developing innovative applications in art, scientific research, social projects, healthcare, and education, putting a strong emphasis on the impact of their work on people’s lives. Their work is based on an inclusive distributed model of action research and collaborative design methods.
The jury felt that BeAnotherLab team is successfully utilizing virtual reality technology as a true empathy machine by placing you in another person’s body and making you see the world through their eyes. While changing gender, age, race, or origin we potentially change somebody’s perspective and view on the ‘others’ and on themselves. These experiments, artistically driven, and in close collaboration with several universities, investigate the feeling of embodiment and empathy and are impacting research areas in perception, psychology, neuroscience, and social relations.