Behind a photo profile or a Facebook status lives a deepest human need of expressing and understanding our own identity. And the seek of social recognition observed in social media reveals that the perception of our own identity is deeply connected to the perception of others towards us.
This may lead us to some very interesting questions. If we could better understand the other, could we better understand ourselves? How would the world be like if we could see the it through the eyes of another? Imagine the possibility of sharing stories that can be felt through the audience’s own body as something real. For example, what would it mean for the world if citizens from opposite sides of a war could swap bodies and feel what it is like to be part of the family of their own enemy? What if every school child could experience, in full immersion, the life of another young person half way around the world? How would this impact our ability to share our pain, address the challenges we share, resolve conflicts and build empathy, or even improve our emotional resilience as individuals?
Recent neuroscience research have pointed out the effectiveness of inducing body ownership to build empathy. For example, studies conducted by EventLab in Barcelona have revealed that putting yourself in the body of a black skin avatar can reduces implicit racial bias. Inspired by this kind of research, BeAnotherLab have been developing interactive embodied systems of storytelling to explore the relationship between identity and empathy. Systems like The Machine to Be Another, a Creative Commons hack of neuroscience protocols that creates the brain illusion of feeling oneself in the body of another person .
This talk will explore BeAnotherLab methodology and neuroscientific background that have guided our work to create experiences in which users can hack the perception of their own selves in order to promote empathic relations , mutual respect, address different kind of bias and conflict resolution.