9 December 2020 @ 4:00 pm

Immersive non-fictions, empathy and connection

How can immersive technology and non-fictional narrative be used to harness empathy, create interpersonal connections, and generate new forms of creative expression?

In this SensiLab Forum, creative technologist Georgie Pinn will discuss different ways of instigating empathy through user-driven interactive installations, and her most recent project, Echo, winner of the Sheffield Doc Fest Interactive Award 2018.

Echo is an interactive multi-media artwork that explores how immersive technology can be used to create interpersonal connection by building empathy through the exchange of identity. The work is a user-centric sculptural installation that connects strangers through real-time facial tracking animation and personal storytelling. The user-participant steps into the shoes of another by merging with them, visually and aurally. During the experience, the user-participant’s face slowly merges with a pre-recorded other’s visual identity and narrated life experience via a virtual mirror interface. The stories are non-fictional, reflections on finding strength in vulnerability, and of the resilience and learnings that one finds in adversity. The goal is to emphasise the similarities we share in our humanity rather than our differences. The user experience allows the participant to engage intimately albeit briefly with someone they may never meet in the physical world. For the user-participant, it is uncanny to see your own face uttering a stranger’s story, discovering in them echoes of yourself and perhaps challenging your preconceived values and biases.

Georgie will discuss ECHO and OHCE, the latest large scale iteration of ECHO, as research tools to explore how creative forms of immersive, user-driven technology, when combined with nonfiction storytelling, can elicit empathy and identity transformation. Empathy enables us to increase human interpersonal connection and relatedness, not only in the context of the external or social realm, but also internally, through introspection, self-awareness and validation. Building empathy is often referenced as a strategic response to increased technologisation and social fragmentation, the objective is to demonstrate how trans-human technologies can help us reduce myopic behaviour and improve our ability to connect with each other.

This SensiLab Forum was held on Wednesday 9th December 2020.

Georgie Pinn has been working for over 2 decades as a multimedia artist/director of interactive cultural activations in public space and education. Her digital palette includes narrative based film, live generative animation, projection mapping, interactive installation, special effects for theatre/dance/circus, AR and VR interactive design and sound design.

Georgie’s creative practice is underpinned by her long-term research into empathy as a creative force for making connections across cultural, age and gender divides. Her projects have been presented in a range of public sites/events such as Fed Square, Robotronica, White Night,The Cube, ISEA and Pause Festival. In 2018 she won an honorary mention at Ars Electronica for the project ECHO that went on to a prize winner’s show in Berlin. The work then won the “Best Interactive Experience” Award at Sheffield doc Fest and in 2020 went on to the Barbican in London. A large-scale interactive sculpture iteration of her work, ECHO, was then commissioned for Pitch Music and Arts Festival in Victoria just days before global lock down.

Her creative practise runs parallel to an immersive digital education workshop, that she has designed and facilitated for all ages. These workshops create a platform for inclusive learning, interactive narrative development and offer new tools for creative expression and agency. The programs explore how to harness empathy and collaboration through interactive real-time animation and sound. These workshops have been commissioned by Melbourne Knowledge Week, The Albany in London and the Museum of Brisbane.