STATE Experience Science Festival 2016

Continuing as science curator for the Berlin STATE Experience Science Festival after our debut event in 2014, I was responsible for curating the theme of the second festival in 2016: Emotion

We were keen to find a novel and exciting topic that lets us get into some interesting contemporary science that could have fundamental implications both for our understanding of ourselves and for wider society. We wanted a topic that would be accessible to both scientific and cultural/societal perspectives, creating a platform for both to meet at eye level. A topic that would allow us to get into the science in some depth whilst remaining relevant and accessible, raise questions for some meaty critical discussions between actors from different sectors of society, and inspire artistic/cultural responses and interpretations. Picking apart different aspects of the science of emotion and its application checked those boxes.

Subtopics included:

science of emotion – the neuroscience and psychology of emotion / emotion as the language of the subconscious, as survival routines, as the expression of our truest selves? / animal emotion & evolutionary origin of emotion / cultural history of emotion and cultural differences in emotion

artificial emotion – simulating emotion with artificial intelligence / the uncanny valley / could real artificial emotion exist / emotion as an emergent property of a complex system (the brain/neural networks)

emotion analytics, affective economy, emotional surveillance – tracking emotions through microexpression, text, sentiment, voice analysis etc / privacy – who owns this data and what can it be used for? Optimization, Marketing, manipulation (key inspiration for this was the panel from Pinar Yoldas at the 2015 Transmediale, “Devices of Affective Surveillance“) / neuroenhancement / emotional machines

empathy – in- v.s. outgroups / unconscious bias / bodily resonance / VR

I saw the project through the initial phase: co-authoring funding proposals, pitching, and securing our first round of funding from the Schering Stiftung. Also developing the curational direction in more detail together with the art curator Daniela Silvestrin, as well as building initial relationships with stakeholders and contributors for a range of different interactive and participatory formats.


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