This trippy, face-melding art project is an exercise in empathy

 When you exhibit empathy—which in this case is determined by how closely your expression mirrors that of the person on screen—the image takes on elements of your face. The more empathy you show, the more the two of you become one.

There’s some evidence that this trick can prompt the viewer to empathize with the person on-screen, Jennifer Gutsell, an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brandeis University. “The more similar you perceive the target subject to be to yourself, the more empathy you feel. That can include physical similarities,” she says.

Moreover, mimicking is a form of empathy. “When we react with other people, we tend to simulate their experience with our own body,” she says. This could be as simple as mirroring the smile on a companion’s face, or as subconscious and complex as internalizing someone else’s discomfort. This, combined with our tendency to feel for people who we deem similar, “could trigger a positive feedback loop” of empathy for those who see Daniele’s installation, says Gutsell.