The Empathy Machine, 2015

 

Raspberry Pi, HD Video, mic, camera, wooden booth, screen. 

Programming by Alana Kelly. Created as part of the CURAM  Art and Science Residency at NUIG Galway. 

The Empathy Machine is a futuristic pop up booth with a digital therapist. The Empathy Machine is a safe place that you walk into when you are feeling down and need to talk to someone. A patient, in need of a counselling session walks in and is confronted by a digital manifestation of a therapist. The Therapist asks them leading questions and the patient responds. However due to digital glitchy-ness, the pre recorded therapist tends to interrupt the patient, and doesn't really listen at all.

Invoking the idea that even though our daily interactions are becoming more computer based, an on-screen persona may never replicate the empathetic nature of a real live human being. The Empathy Machine works via a pre-programmed Raspberry Pi, it reads facial and voice detection, which then triggers a series of pre- recorded prompts and questions, timed to interrupt the viewer and thier interaction with the piece.