Date of Award
Master of Industrial Design
Alesdair H. Ittelson
As an individual with an independent consciousness that cannot be shared, it is impossible to have complete empathy. But as a social animal, empathy is also the ability pursued by individuals and society collectively. Empathy is an indispensable element to also achieve social justice which benefits each individual.
The current media environment is usually that information is aggregated from the bottom to the top, and then transmitted from the top to each individual at the bottom through an announcement of information.
The biggest contradiction arising from this information mechanism is that humans who both send and receive information involuntarily pay more attention to the information. This affects the identity group or interest group they belong to while ignoring its influence on other groups and individuals in those groups.
Social media should have promoted communication and the cultivation of empathy. However, from a macro point of view, the results are completely contrary to assumptions. Humans, who are easily clustered, will emphasize the positive evidence by ignoring the negative data to strengthen their knowledge of the world. The current Internet and various AI algorithms are double-edged swords which further exacerbate this trend.
So, what went wrong? How can we use contemporary technology to truly benefit our humanitarian tendencies instead of serving any authority, organization, or country? How to change a society where economy, manufacturing, and technology are highly developed, but differences in values between people are becoming increasingly difficult to resolve, and inequality has not improved?
Ether is an interactive installation that focuses on the basic information exchange tool, linguistics, and each individual's insignificant but crucial personal experience and cognition. In Ether, language is no longer a tool for simplifying cognitive information for efficient communication, but an important means of conveying individual consciousness without details and efficiency. By sharing and learning the true stories of others, empathy changes from a blind guess to clear understanding.
Zhou, Zihan, "Ether: a social design" (2020). Masters Theses. 577.
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