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Virtual Reality as Empathy Machine

October 3, 2019 | 10:00 am - 4:00 pm EDT


Explore the social, cultural, and philosophical effects of virtual reality with VR creators!

Please note, the morning session is an unticketed drop-in event.
Registration is necessary for the afternoon session.
Both sessions are free of charge.

This event is wheelchair accessible. For questions and other accessibility accommodations, please contact [email protected].

MORNING SESSION (10am – 12pm): VR Immersive Experience

All are welcome to drop-in and try a VR station!

Five creators are bringing their VR experiences to the Library Collaboratory courtesy of the Jack Layton Chair – come and immerse yourself in work by Le Sensorium, Oya Media Group, SpekWork, THIRTEENTH FLOOR , Axia Design & FCAD, and OC•CU•PIED.

AFTERNOON SESSION (1pm – 4pm): Panel moderated by Ken Moffatt, Jack Layton Chair

Registration is necessary.

Virtual reality (VR) has been promoted as a means to heighten empathy. In fact, it has been coined by some to be the empathy machine. It has been argued that the sharp focus it provides on an image or topic, and the immediacy of imagery and contact, serve to heighten empathy. At this seminar we will critically analyze the interplay between the social and the creative with VR. While acknowledging the exciting aesthetic and social potential of VR, we will explore its social, cultural, and philosophical affects.

VR Creator Bios and VR Descriptions

Le Sensorium | Natalie Doonan takes an ethnographic/ historical approach with a work focused on the Montreal waterfront as a feral urban site.

Oya Media Group | Ngardy George Conteh and Alison Duke‘s immersive VR experience documents the recovery efforts in Barbuda after the hurricane with a focus on inequitable development.

SpekWork | Cat Bluemke, Ben McCarthy and Jonathan Carrol take an art based/ethnographic approach with a work focused on precarious labour and capitalism.

THIRTEENTH FLOOR and Axia Design & FCAD | Tae Joe and Taymoore Balbaa‘s piece “Adaptive City VR” uses immersive technology as a means to narrate contested residual spaces in a rapidly developing city, and the role they play for everyone from the homeless to the elite.

OC•CU•PIED | J Lee Williams and Timur Musabay take a game-based/historical/ ethnographic approach with a work that explores the contested nature and troubled history of Jerusalem as a spiritual epicenter.


October 3, 2019
10:00 am - 4:00 pm EDT
Event Category:


Ryerson University Student Learning Centre


Ryerson University