16 January | 16:00

OPEN CALL 2018: Creating Empathy

Image: Aurelia 1Hz by Robertina Sebjanic. Photo by Miha Fras (archive Gallery Kapelica)

The new open call of Spektrum focuses on artistic projects and critical discourses reflecting on empathy to specifically question the relation of the self with the other person and generally humans with other life forms.

In neuroscience, empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share someone else’s feelings by means of a mirroring effect provided by special type of neurons – mirror neurons – in both animals and humans. This reflective state to feel-the-other seems to be a promising key able to unfold the nature of the relation between living beings and guarantee the success of evolution of technology in the future. What if artists would create ways to critically expand this mirroring effect between people by using machines? When do tools and knowledge of technology and science become meaningful enough to catalyze social empathy in new cultural and artistic forms? And would it ever be possible to technologically extend this sense of feeling-the-other to non- human creatures?

The consequences of those questions in terms of correlations to science and technology are enormous. In one side it directly refers on the state of ultra-connectivity of humans-to-machines that is currently developed in tech-design: the internet of things. On the other hand, it challenges us to further develop user-oriented interfaces by integrating our intuitive interaction with the world. In this aspect, sensing technology and artificial intelligence represent a fundamental paradox in making this adaption of technology-to- human and human-to-technology happen, because it enables us to solve problems while opening up new fundamental questions on the nature of these tools operating obscure algorithms that scientists describe as a black box. The goal is to digitally integrate people with their things and their environment by overwriting a layer of technological cooperation with smart and autonomous devices which are adapting to the way humans behave by means of statistical computations.

For our program in 2018, we are excited to announce that the activities of Spektrum will be presented in two European capitals: Berlin and Athens. Our challenge this year is to build a bridge between these two cities and promote an exchange of projects and discourses catalyzing Empathy through art and science while building a new transnational community. In this period, we invite all to submit proposals for artworks, installations, media and body performances, workshops, lecture, screenings, concerts and happenings of all kind to be considered for the upcoming program at Spektrum in both Berlin and Athens. 

You can submit your proposal directly at spektrumberlin.de/booking, please consider that this is a year topic of Spektrum (no a real deadline is included). We will contact you along this time if we get the opportunity to show your work in our on going pogram.


ROBERTINA ŠEBJANIČ: Aurelia 1+Hz / proto viva generator Project ‘

Aurelia 1+Hz / proto viva generator’ addresses the possibilities of coexistence of animals and machines. In contrast to robots, which are driven by digital artificial intelligence, the project uses a live organism to process the “aliveness” of a simple machine. It addresses the possibilities of coexistence of humans, animals and machines while using living organisms to process “aliveness” of a simple robotic machine. The installation addresses two entities – jellyfish and robot – separated, but if they merged into one, causing new biocybernetic organism to occur: Would “it” be able to live forever?



Marinos Koutsomichalis: Inhibition – Electroencephalography to Sound 

Inhibition revolves around an ‘intelligent’ headset that is capable of EEG (electroencephalography), algorithmic sound synthesis and machine learning. With the headset on, neurophysical activity is constantly monitored and those particular kinds of sounds that are most likely to inhibit concentration are generated, hindering direct man-machine coupling and destabilising the subject’s cerebral rhythms. In this way a new kind of uncanny ‘meta-mind’ is brought forth, one that is enacted on top of machine learning schemata, neuro-feedback and bio-technological autopoiesis.