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.
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.