10 February 2017: “How Virtual Reality Can Create the Ultimate Empathy Machine”

Artist’s Name: Chris Milk
Bio: Chris Milk got his start by making music videos. He evolved to wanting to use “modern and developing technologies to tell stories in different ways” [TED], which led him to explore multimedia approaches to storytelling like with the Arcade Fire music video project and delving into virtual reality – especially to provoke empathy, like “Clouds Over Sidra” [TED].
Name of Topic: TED Talk: “How Virtual Reality Can Create the Ultimate Empathy Machine”
Date of Topic: March 2015
Describe Topic: Chris Milk’s TED Talk is about Milk’s search for escaping the frame and putting people in a place where they can more intimately interact with narratives.
Opinion of Artwork, Article or Topic:
Chris Milk’s TED Talk was given at a time when VR and 360 video had not gained as much traction as it has now. Perhaps it is for that reason that I don’t think this talk is so revolutionary, but I know my bias. Milk is commendable in trying to tell stories that really matter – empathy is what drives his creative and artistic process, and I think that these are stories that need to be told. Milk chooses the route of activism in his VR endeavours. Especially to organizations that make decisions about people but are so far removed from the situation, films like “Clouds Over Sidra” have the very real possibility of changing minds. In this global political climate with all of the refugees from places like Syria (just like Sidra), humanizing people who are so far removed from places in the US and Europe today can have very real impacts on legislation. From his talk, however, I struggled with him convincing me that “VR is a machine that makes us more human” because his argument didn’t quite seem to be an argument. Throughout the entire “How Virtual Reality Can Create the Ultimate Empathy Machine” talk, I couldn’t tell if Chris Milk was trying to only show me what he was doing, or if he was trying to convince me that VR is the new empathy machine. It was this haphazard mix of intentions that did not allow me to connect with the talk and only to think that it is a neat concept, but not actually believe in any of the statements and claims that Milk made about empathy and connection. For me, this talk was only semi-successful.
Links (to article or topics):

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