Smolny Beyond Borders

A Liberal Arts Initiative

Anatomy of Destruction, an attempt to create an empathy machine



Thursday, 16 November, 11 AM - 6 PM UTC+1

Anna Tolkacheva, Boris Shershenkov and Natalia Fedorova invite you to participate in a workshop on VR and spatial sound, which will be held from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday, November 16 at Paris 8 University as part of Ukraine Week.…

Anatomy of Destruction is a workshop on creating an interactive VR installation on the perception of destroyed spaces (Kharkiv, Ukraine). Participants will be asked to scan significant objects and place them in a specially prepared space. Each participant will write the history of the object and create a poem based on a poem by Ukrainian author Serhiy Zhadan, which will be linked to this object in the virtual space. Then participants will experience the destruction of this object. At the very end, participants will be asked to reflect on how they feel, what they lose when these significant objects are destroyed, and how refugees whose homes and property have been destroyed live. The goal of this workshop is to create an empathy machine, to show the world being destroyed, to learn how to empathize with a person living in insecurity, and to try to understand how one can live in insecurity.

The seminar was inspired by Sergei Loznitsa’s movie “The Natural History of Destruction”, dedicated to the Allied bombing of German civilians during World War II. The film takes a detached look at the unthinkable cruelty and absurdity of the destruction of the German civilian population during the Second World War.