Interactive Art

empathetic heartbeat

Price: Anerkennung - Honorary Mentions

Hideyuki Ando (JP), Masahiko Sato (JP), Junji Watanabe (JP)


Cyberarts 2011 - International Compendium Prix Ars Electronica 2011

Empathy is important for our society and individuals, because it is what facilitates our interactions and connections to the other people around us. Empathy is a foundation for building a supportive community and considering other people’s feelings.

The installation empathetic heartbeat aims to get the participant to empathize with people in movies by “misperceiving” his/her own heartbeat as if it is coming from the people.

Although the heart is indispensable to every human being, they cannot distinguish their own heartbeats from those of others. So the heartbeats can be anonymous and shared. We used the participant’s heartbeat as a medium for feeling empathy.

The participants put on the headphones and attach the stethoscope to their chest. They can hear the sound of their own heartbeat. When they see movies of nervous people, such as a child about to start running or a soldier on battlefield, the volume changes according to the situation in the movie. Gradually they become unable to distinguish whether the sound is coming from their own body or from the people in the movie. The heartbeat plays a role in empathizing with others. Imagination with the heartbeats from the others leads to empathy with their emotional states.

This piece was created for Exhibition “The Definition of Self”, directed by Masahiko Sato at 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT, 16 July- 3rd Nov. 2010.