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This is a research and practice based project I worked on while studying my Master’s degree in London, in which a mobile number and a website were activated in order to explore the possibility of empathy within an everyday basis. The purpose of the mobile number was for everyone to be able to call and have a conversation in which the receiver would maintain an empathic attitude towards the speaker. Examples of guerrilla and viral propaganda were prototyped.

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The project remained in a state of work in progress because of ethical and logistical concerns regarding the protection of the sender and the receiver of the dialogue to be produced when having the phone conversation, what was to be made with the material that would come out of the conversation, how would it be presented, should it be presented… These were a few of the concerns regarding the project. It also became a liability for me in terms of being exposed to unknown people that could hurt me, for the ambiguity of the propaganda and the project itself. As it was a number you could call to, the user could think it was a sex or help line. It was neither. It was an empathy line, only I wasn’t qualified to attend it (without formal training in disciplines such as psychology or nursing, it would have been difficult for me to remain neutral to feedback from the user), but at the same time, I thought it was a great exercise to explore the core of the meaning and application of empathy. For example, if someone were to call to confess a crime, my reaction shouldn’t have been to judge, but to identify with the person to a level where I would understand the reasons why he or she committed it without judging.

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Pretzel Alphabet

Pretzel Alphabet (whole alphabet).

The Pretzel Alphabet came to me as a random idea in the summer of 2009, when I just graduated from my Master’s Degree in London. I was eating a bag of pretzels, and I thought I could make a whole alphabet without altering a single pretzel. I didn’t try to finish the alphabet at the time.

Nevertheless, the idea materialized in 2010, with the collaboration of Félix De Portu. I ate the pretzels, Félix took the photographs, and we both worked on the website design and programming.

Pretzel Alphabet index page.

On 2011, local based magazine Bacanal had a call for submissions on their food issue. We submitted the Pretzel Alphabet, and got it published.

Because of my ever-growing interest in interaction, I thought it would be great for people to try to make letters out of pretzels on the magazine’s launching party, held at Candela, Viejo San Juan. And so we did. The event was called “Eat your pretzels”.

Revista El Bacanal’s launching party at Candela, Viejo San Juan. (Feb 2011) Photo by Yvonne Santiago.
Intervention of pretzels at “Eat your pretzels”. Photo by Yvonne Santiago.
Digital projection of the alphabet’s slideshow onto the wall. Photo by Yvonne Santiago.