Interfaces for Empathy


          During last few years, empathy has become a buzzword in all fields of science, all areas of life. There is a continuously growing field of literature - from philosophy, to neuroscience, and to business literature - aiming to theorize, criticize, and in all abstract ways to fundamentally understand what empathy is.

If empathy can be harnessed as a tool for groups such as business managers to ease their work why it should not be harnessed also as a tool for the grassroot-level civil society, different communities, teams, or any groups aiming towards common good?

Empathy’s role in human collaboration has also been underlined by many scholars and thinkers. Further on, our ability to collaborate on a level not seen in any other animals, has been defined as maybe the single most important factor for the success of our species.

Through collaboration humans have been able to conquer the planet, regardless of the species being small, slow and weak compared to many other predators.

Nevertheless our success, and role as the ultimate “conqueror” of the planet, is now casting doubt, through the multitude of ecological crises, on the larger scale survival of our species. What role does and could empathy play, in supporting a new wave of collaboration between humans, and other species, to ensure a more encompassing survival of all species on this earth-bound existence.

Interfaces for Empathy (IfE) group’s format has evolved over a two year incubation period, but our aim has always been the same – to bring empathy as something that can be experienced in the everyday through experimental and multidisciplinary methods.


IfE has evolved through an intensive research and action period (2017-2018) into an action tank. This new format of activity combines the best from our various backgrounds and fields: art, curating, research, social sciences, participatory and community work, experimental design and different digital realms.

We are aiming to work with wider and more in-depth scientific basis, more solid methodological development, braver artistic openings to reach towards wider partnerships and audiences.

IfE people

Interfaces for Empathy is a work group where we aim to live as we teach. We come from different backgrounds and bring with us different knowledge and skills but we share the same root cause for our actions: the concern over the ecological crises and especially the inability of the human kind to see the fundamental structural reasons for it, and the unwillingness to understand our inherent connection with other forms of life. As a group, we aim to make the best out of our versatile knowhow and differences; we are fundamentally equal and in all our actions within our group and with whomever we work with, we strive towards empathy, humbleness and respect. We are artists, researchers, activists and facilitators.

Mari Keski-Korsu is a transdisciplinary artist who explores how ecological changes manifest in everyday life. She has a background working with creative activism projects, participatory art and creating environments to enhance empathy as an art practise for over 15 years. Her work has been based on collaborations with different kinds of communities and species and usually are in the realm of hybrid combinations of performance, visual arts and live art. Mari is part of IfE action tank taking part in all the research, planning and designing processes.
Maarit Laihonen is a researcher-activist who holds a Doctor of Science (Econ.) degree. Her main research interests have been and are, for example, politics of large-scale industries, unorthodox organizations, environmental protests, politics of sustainable development and climate change, artistic knowledge creation, and currently the nature and everyday possibilities of empathy in communities. She has worked over ten years with researchers from different fields, artists and activists. She has taught almost ten years e.g. corporate social responsibility, business ethics, and qualitative research methods. She joined Interfaces for Empathy in 2017 after former successful artistic-scientific collaborations on the politics of nuclear power in Finland with Mari in 2013 and beyond.
Petri Ruikka is facilitator, artist and educator, who works on the intersections of digital technology, perception, ecology and empathy. Petri’s various spheres of work were originally based on electronic art, spatial and moving image, but have moved in the last half a decade towards empathy, ecological/environmental art, participatory processes and collective intelligence. Petri has worked with Pixelache festival over 5 years, curating & coordinating & directing various programme parts. Petri’s teaching in various universities (mainly Aalto University and Academy of Fine Arts) has evolved from spatial moving image and digitality towards virtuality and ecology. Petri is also a full member of the action tank IfE, taking part in all the research, planning and design of the various processes
and actions.

Interfaces for Empathy work is generously supported by the Kone Foundation

Action Tank Working Towards Empathic Ecologies