At Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, a key research goal is “empathy at scale”. Excitement about the discovery of so-called “mirror neurons” lends a sense of possible increases in scientific rigor, and experiments in body visualization and “perspective-taking” have been met with positive results in medical studies.
But can the immersive perspective provided by virtual reality actually provoke increases in empathy? Empathy has a long history as a concept bridging aesthetics, psychology, and medicine. Artwork in this space occupies a growing territory, borrowing from scientific discourse to make an artistic intervention.