Kickended by Silvio Lorusso is online database artwork archiving the Kickstarted campaigns that got not even a single penny. This competitive aesthetics of failure has been able to attract the attention of major national newspapers (from the British “The Guardian” to the Italian “Corriere della Sera”).
Empathy Box, by the Italian iocose collective, is a device that generates pain that is meant to be shared. This is a box made out of both metal and wood, and is reminiscent of the type of vintage radios people used to sit around and listen to collectively. But instead of music or words, the users voluntarily share pain. An electric shock of an intensity that depends on the number of users, shoots out of the device through the human chain attached to it. Empathy, the ability to understand what another person is feeling, is the key to exorcising our fears and pains. It’s the distinctive feature that Philip K. Dick, in ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’, attributes to humans to tell them apart from androids. Perceiving our emotions in others is the mechanism by which we find a common spiritual dimension. Our spiritual resources are being drained by the cult of making, producing, promoting and selling objects, and the speed with which these processes occur compounds the problem. Empathy Box was created for those who want to get back in touch with their spirituality. The feeling of pain is the most common and most effective method: it goes beyond the religious and cultural differences, and points directly to the most intimate sphere of every human being. The use of the strong physical nature of pain returns: in LegShocker, by the fur collective. The physical pain generated by the technological device violently drags us from the screen back to reality. The pain inflicted by the Empathy box has a sacred meaning instead. Considering itself as the only way to attain purification, it moves in the opposite direction: it projects us toward a spiritual dimension. But in order for materialistically-inclined humanity to understand its function, the Bureau of United Religion, the fictitious entity that promotes the box, markets it as a product. “Invite all your friends, family and colleagues, switch on the Empathy Box, and get ready to experience a healthy and genuine spiritual feeling. Tap the metal balls, join your hands and get ready to feel an electric shock that will burn your soul with joy! Forget all those long ceremonies you were used to: Enjoy religion with no frills while sitting on your couch!”