We Know How You Feel

(Noortje Knulst, 2017)

Created by: Studio Nick Verstand (Nick Verstand, Salvador Breed, Naivi, Sophie de Krom)
Commissioned by: VPRO Medialab
Trend: Digital Empathy
Written by: Teddy Kuijs
Location: Design Perron

Digital Empathy shows a new way of communication between humans and technology, where technology can understand the person’s mood and react to his or her feelings. VPRO Medialab and Studio Nick Verstand will find out if these technologies will play a role in making and consuming media? 

In the project called ‘We Know How You Feel’, VPRO Medialab and Studio Nick Verstand work together and present the artwork AURA. AURA shows that wearables have been evaluated in a measuring instrument for emotions and are able to visualize one’s feelings. VPRO Medialab and Studio Nick Verstand explore not only the new chance these technologies offer for media but also the social impact of implementing these new technologies. It shows the essence of the trend ‘Digital Empathy’, which reflects the changing need of empathic devices, which improve one’s mood.


AURA by Studio Nick Verstand is an interactive artwork, which reacts on one’s mood. Sensors measure the emotions which are visualized into organic pulsing colored light compositions, perceptible to the individual and the surrounding audience.

(Noortje Knulst, 2017)

Emma Kapteijn, a girl who I interviewed, experienced the artwork AURA. With wearables, her heart rate, her sweat, and her breathing were measured. With these pieces of information, the artwork could read her state of mind so it could react on her feelings.

She explains: “The music and the feeling like I was underwater, helped me to calm down. I felt happy, but I also wanted to be sure the experience was real. So there was a moment when I stopped breathing or accelerated my breath and indeed the artwork reacted on mine changing body conditions”.

The exhibition shows the technique which is able to measure one’s mood. However, the goal is to use this technology in the media of the future to launch media that suits one’s emotions.

‘We Know How You Feel’ website

On the ‘We Know How You Feel Website’ you can find more wearables which respond to your emotional condition. By asking a simple question, the website responds with an example of an empathic device according to your personality. To visit the website, please click on the link: https://www.vpro.nl/We-Know-How-You-Feel.html

Social Impact

‘We Know How You Feel Tonight’ is a debate night where you can discuss the question if empathic technologies are something we need to embrace or something we need to fear. With the debate night, VPRO Medialab and  Studio Nick Verstand want to identify if this technology is socially accepted. If you like, you can join the debate night in the ‘Effenaar’ between 19:00 and 21:30 on 25 October 2017.

What do you think about empathic media? Do you fear or embrace this development? Please let us know in the comments below.

List of sources:

Knulst, N. (2017). AURA [Foto]. Geraadpleegd van http://www.nickverstand.com/projects/aura/

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