Conferences + Symposia

Past Conferences & Symposia

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The Disruptive Design and Digital Fabrication exhibition explores the relationship between digital fabrication processes and social design that increasingly revolve around prototyping and iterative testing.  Digital tools are today ubiquitous in academic and community settings, yet engaging with these goes beyond any particular technologically enhanced capacity.  In what Katherine Hayles calls a ‘Regime of Computation’, works today increasingly involve a co-evolution of life and mind, individual and society.  The ‘disruptive’ technologies that will be introduced reflect on the infrastructural machinic processes that are pervasive in digital culture today, and reveal biases and stereotypes in their design through alternative networking of edge sensing, assistive technologies, Google Homes, wikiLeaks, artscience visualizations and more.

Through the symposium, we hope to create an opportunity for artists and theorists to engage in a discussion of critical making, accountability and experiential learning through their works and research projects.  The exhibition provides an experiential context to their works and for visitors to gain experience into their working processes.

For symposium and exhibition abstracts, bios, and more general information please go to


10:00 am : Introductions
10:10 am : Panel 1: Between Disruption and Inclusion: An internet of Difference 
Panelists : Jutta Trevenius, Garnet Hertz, Evan Light, Robert Twomey
11:40 pm : Gallery tour & light refreshments
12:00 pm : Panel 2 :Assistive and Sustainable Design
Panelists: Deborah Fels, Shital Desai, Lauren Sergio, Joel Ong
1:30 pm: Closing Remarks & End


Presented By

The AMPD Makerspace, SENSORIUM: The Centre for Digital Arts and Technology, SaTS (Social and Technological Systems) Lab.

Supported By

Department of Design, Department of Computational Arts at AMPD and the Academic Innovation Fund York University.


Joel Ong (AMPD Makerspace, Sensorium, Department of Computational Arts)

Shital Desai (SaTS, Department of Design)

Exhibition/Symposium Managers: Simon Lynch, Andrew Sidsworth, Alanna Dunlop.

Image of a woman holding a virtual reality headset with her left hand. Behind her are two tall condominiums and between them stands a tall, multicolour poll.

Mixed Reality Performance Symposium: York

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

9:00 a.m. – 5:15 p.m

Register via Eventbrite

The Mixed Reality Performance Symposium: York is the first of six symposiums hosted by mixed reality producers Toasterlab, and will explore extended and mixed reality performance. Artists and new media creators will share modes of working and recent successes in VR, AR, and immersive theatre. 

Projects include: 

Funded by the Canada Council for the Arts, Toasterlab’s Mixed Reality Performance Atelier is a two-year deep dive into the current mixed reality methods used by theatre and performance makers across Canada and the U.S. Every four months, an Atelier cohort will present progress on their projects at a symposium hosted by Toasterlab in partnership with a university and the Atelier’s advisory board. When the Atelier concludes in June 2021, Toasterlab will share open source tools, guidelines, and instructional material for the creation of immersive media in an arts context. 

Toasterlab creates place-based extended reality experiences that promote deeper engagement with history, community, and imagination. Toasterlab combines expertise in storytelling, theatrical and media production, and the development of new technology to produce both original work and partnerships. Our work ranges from live site-specific live performance to bespoke mobile applications and VR films, and often combines a variety of approaches to collapse time and space for the delivery of impactful narratives. From the largest festivals to community youth workshops, we build accessible ways to understand places in whole new ways.

Sponsored/Supported by: 

Sensorium: Centre for Digital Arts and Technology

Canada Council for the Arts

Resisting Extractivism, Performing Opposition 

Symposium | 1-2 March 2019

OCAD University
100 McCaul St.
Toronto, ON
M5T 1W1

*OCAD University is an accessible space.

Please note: all events are FREE and open to the public, but require an RSVP for refreshments by Friday 15 February.

The Canadian Consortium on Performance and Politics in the Americas, York University’s Graduate Program in Theatre and Performance Studiesand Sensorium: Centre for Digital Arts and Technology, and OCAD University’s Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences & School of Interdisciplinary Studies, with the support of the Contemporary Art, Design and New Media Art Histories and Criticism and Curatorial Practice graduate programs and Art and Social Change student volunteers, welcome you to the Resisting Extractivism, Performing Opposition symposium, taking place at OCAD University, 1-2 March 2019.

This interdisciplinary symposium invites activists, scholars, artists, community organizers, and cultural workers to explore collective strategies of embodied and performed resistance to extractivism. While extractivism commonly refers the logic of reducing nature to commodities, and the resultant hyper-exploitation of the mining, oil, and gas industries, we can also think of extractivism as an ideology fundamental to colonialism and capitalism at their most endemic. Resisting Extractivism, Performing Opposition asks: How is (anti)extractivism performed? How have mining-impacted communities and solidarity groups alike mobilized their dissent through creative interventions? How can we, as scholars and artists, perform research that does not similarly extract community/Indigenous knowledge for our own cultural capital? How can we ethically and productively engage communities as co-researchers and collaborators without succumbing to an exploitative model of knowledge and labour extraction?

Resisting Extractivism, Performing Opposition explores extractivism as a vital issue that concerns all Canadians: resource extraction informs Canadian domestic and foreign policy, mandatory investments, and is inherent in how we conceptualize Canadian identities, mythologies, and exceptionalism. Canada’s place in the Americas is inherently tied to extractivism, and we will explore this through creative and innovative research methods, mobilized in conversations across disciplines that reach publics outside of the academy, convening artistic, activist, and scholarly communities.

The symposium begins on Friday evening 1 March 2019 from 5-7 pm with the opening of the exhibition Educate, Advocate, Agitate: The Mining Injustice Solidarity Network’s Creative Interventions. The exhibition documents the Toronto-based grassroots mining justice group’s performative actions and creative interventions, and a recent collaboration with JODVID (Jóvenes Organizados en Defensa de la Vida/Youth Organized in Defense of Life), a youth group based in Mataquescuintla, Guatemala that uses performance and creative tactics to resist Canadian-owned Tahoe Resources’ Escobal silver mine on their territory. The exhibition is realized through the curatorial support of Valerie Frappier, an MFA student in the Criticism and Curatorial Practice graduate program at OCAD University.

Following the gallery opening, at 7:30 pm, we will present Beyond the Extractive Zonea film screening and discussion co-programmed with the re:assemblage collective and presented with the support of OCAD’s Culture Shifts, that explore anti-extractivism from Indigenous perspectives.

Kiruna – Rymdvägen (Liselotte Wajstedt, Sweden, 2013, 52 minutes, documentary)

The town Kiruna is to be moved. The mining activities underground threaten its foundation. Houses will be moved, or torn down, and new quarters will be built on another site. The director grew up on the Company Site and is in a hurry to catch up with her past, for soon its physical reminders will be gone.

Screening with:

The Case of Gran Colombia Gold – Crude Gold
(Monica Gutierrez, Colombia/Canada, 2014, 10 minutes, documentary)

To Stop Being a Threat and To Become a Promise(Carolina Caycedo, Colombia/UK, 2017, 8 minutes, two channel documentary)

On Saturday 2 March 2019 we open the symposium at 9:30 am with the Indigenous Environmental Justice project. Based at Osgoode Hall Law School at York University, IEJ works to develop a distinctive environmental justice framework that is informed by Indigenous knowledge systems, laws, concepts of justice and the lived experiences of Indigenous peoples.

At 10am we welcome Macarena Gómez-Barris, author of The Extractive Zone: Social Ecologies and Decolonial Perspectives (Duke University Press, 2017) and the founder and Director of the Global South Center at Pratt Institute. Gómez-Barris will present a keynote address, “Living and Dying in Extractive Zones,”considering the spaces of ruin in the aftermath of extractive capitalism through discussion of three sites within the Americas, and asking: How does mining, hydroelectricity, oil extraction, tourism, and monoculture disproportionately impact Indigenous territories in the Americas? How do social ecologies find alternative sources of living within the space of catastrophic death? What forms of refusal and social and decolonial praxis find solutions?

The keynote is followed by lunch at 11:30am catered by NishDish (RSVP required) and two panel sessions from 12:30-4:30 pm.

The first panel (12:30-2pm), “Animating Objects, Performing Justice,” features Toronto-based Argentine visual artist Dana Prieto, artist and organizer Maggie Flynn, and Winnipeg-based writer, filmmaker, photographer and professor Warren Cariou, who will share their respective visual art and performance practices. It is moderated by MISN member Merle Davis (PhD candidate, Anthropology, University of Minnesota).

The second panel (2:30-4pm), “Legal Discourse as Performative Resistance,” features Anishinaabe actor and playwright Shandra Spears Bombay, Marion de Vries, playwright of The Last Walk of Adolfo Ich, and Isabel Dávila of JCAP (the Justice and Corporate Accountability Project). It is moderated by Sydney Lang, MISN member and law student at McGill University.

The symposium concludes with a keynote address at 4:30 pm by Kirsty Robertson, Associate Professor of Contemporary Art and Museum Studies at Western University (London, ON) and author of the forthcoming Tear Gas Epiphanies: Protest, Culture, Museums (McGill-Queen’s University Press, Spring 2019). Robertson will present, “When the Land Comes First: Oil, Museums, and (Missing) Protest,” a talk that considers demonstrations and performative activist responses to sponsorships from fossil fuel companies at museums and other cultural institutions—and the lack thereof in the Canadian context.

For more information, please contact:

Zoë Heyn-Jones, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow, Canadian Consortium on Performance and Politics in the Americas

Intermedial Narratives and Performance: New Approaches

Symposium | November 2018 (Laura Levin, Michael Longford, Taien Ng-Chan)

Intermedial Narrative & Performance: New Approaches will focus on new modes of storytelling at the intersection of performance, technology, art and design, and the ways in which they are producing alternative kinds of knowledge in and outside of the academy. Specifically, how do emerging multimedia performances and artworks use augmented and mixed reality tools, network archaeology, and new information infrastructures to generate creative opportunities and alternative modes of transmitting self, culture, and memory?

Intermedial Narrative & Performance: New Approaches is a one-day symposium focusing on new forms of storytelling at the intersection of performance, film, mixed media, and installation. Bridging diverse approaches to media arts, we will ask: how do artists and collectives working across disciplines engage with technologies—“new” and “old”—to experiment with alternative ways of staging self, community, and cultural memory? How do intermedial artworks—in challenging the methods and expectations proper to discrete art forms—provide a testing ground for unique, and often politically challenging, narrative structures? In what ways do these mediatized explorations of the spaces in between the arts, and in between art and technology, create engaging and at times disorienting audience experiences?

To explore these questions, we have invited a group of interdisciplinary makers and scholars from across Canada and the United States to discuss their intermedial creation work in and outside the “black box.” Through their use of a variety of intermedial methods—virtual, augmented, and mixed reality, live projection, interactive and immersive environments, mobile and geolocation technologies, and more—these artists trouble conventional perceptions of space, time, and boundary. In doing so, their practice-based artistic inquiries offer vibrant and urgent forms of social critique.

Featuring keynote presentations and workshops by: The Builders Association (New York City) and IRL Labs (Pittsburgh). Following the symposium, our keynote speakers will be staying on for a 2-day workshop with our students.
Friday, November 9, 2019

9:30 AM– 9:40 AM – Opening remarks from the organizing committee (Laura Levin, Michael Longford, Taien Ng-Chan)

9:40 AM– 10:30 AM – Keynote: The Builders Association

The Builders Association is a New York-based performance and media company that creates original productions based on stories drawn from contemporary life. The company uses the richness of new and old tools to extend the boundaries of theatre. Based on innovative collaborations, Builders’ productions blend stage performance, text, video, sound, and architecture to tell stories about human experience in the 21st century.

Marianne Weems (Artistic Director)

Moe Angelos (Writer and Performer)

Larry Shea (Video and Interactive Media Designer)

Moderator: Laura Levin (Associate Professor, Theatre & Performance Studies; Director of Sensorium: Centre for Digital Arts & Technology)

10:30 AM– 10:45 AM – BREAK

10:45 AM – 12:30 PM – Panel 1: Immersive Social Spaces

Nyla Innuksuk (Filmmaker, Mixtape VR)
Nyla Innuksuk is a producer of film and virtual reality content.  She is the Founder of Mixtape VR, which produces VR and AR content. She was featured in the widely spread Vice Motherboard article, “How an Inuit Filmmaker Is Using Virtual Reality to Tell Her Culture’s Stories” for her use of VR as a tool to break free from stereotypes.

Tim Carlson (Theatremaker, Theatre Conspiracy) & David Mesiha (Sound Designer, Theatre Conspiracy)
Tim Carlson is a playwright, dramaturg, journalist and the artistic producer of Theatre Conspiracy. He led the creation of Foreign Radical (The Cultch, Vancouver 2015), which won an Edinburgh Fringe First Award and the Jessie Award Critics Choice Innovation prize.

David Mesiha is a music composer, sound designer, video designer, media artist and Theatre Devisor. He is a co-creator, composer and tour technical director for Foreign Radical. 

Michael Wheeler (Theatremaker, SpiderWebShow)
Michael Wheeler is Artistic Director of SpiderWebShow Performance, Canada’s first live digital performance company. He was previously Executive Director and Transformation Designer of Generator, a mentoring, teaching, and innovation incubator that empowers independent artists, producers and leaders.

Lisa Jackson (Filmmaker and VR Creator)
Lisa Jackson works in fiction and documentary. Upcoming projects include a multimedia installation Transmissions, an IMAX film Lichen, along with more traditional film and TV. She a director mentor for the NSI IndigiDocs program and sits on the advisory committee for the NFB’s Indigenous Action Plan.

Moderator: John Greyson (Associate Professor, Cinema & Media Arts; Graduate Program Director, Film MFA Program)

12:30 PM – 1:30 PM – LUNCH – Martin Family Lounge (ACE 219)

1:30 PM – 2:45 PM – Panel 2: Intermedial Narratives

M.E. Luka (Producer, Narratives in Space+Time Society)
Dr. Luka is an award-winning scholar, activist and digital media producer for arts, social enterprises, broadcasting and telecommunications, and creative management policy, planning and practice. Her research examines co-creative and collaborative production, distribution and dissemination in the intersecting fields of media, arts and culture.

Alison S. M. Kobayashi (Transmedia Artist, UnionDocs)
Alison S. M. Kobayashi is an award-winning interdisciplinary artist whose hybrid work mixes documentary and fiction through video, performance, installation, interactive and illustration. Her performance Say Something Bunny! has received critical acclaim heralded as “The best new theater experience in town” by Vogue, is a NYTimes critics’ pick and was listed in Time Out’s 2017 top ten productions.

Liz Miller (Documentary Filmmaker & Transmedia Artist)
Elizabeth (Liz ) Miller is a documentary maker and professor who uses collaboration and interactivity as a way to connect personal stories to larger timely social issues such as water privatization, refugee rights, gender rights, gender & environmental justice, and climate disasters.

Moderator: Michael Longford (Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director, Digital Media, Computational Arts)

2:45 PM – 3:00 PM – BREAK

3:00 PM – 3:50 PM – Keynote: IRL Labs

Ali Momeni (Co-Founder)
Ali Momeni is a media-artist and researcher with expertise in interactive systems and human computer interaction. He studied physics and music at Swarthmore College and completed his doctoral degree in music composition, improvisation and performance with computers at UC Berkeley.

Aparna Wilder (Co-Founder)
Aparna Wilder is a program director and community builder passionate about experiential learning and storytelling. Aparna leads IRL Labs outreach and education programs and is responsible for facilitating new partnerships, research projects, and workshops.

Moderator: Taien Ng-Chan (Sessional Assistant Professor, Cinema & Media Arts)

3:50 PM – 4:00 PM – Closing remarks by organizing committee (Laura Levin, Michael Longford, Taien Ng-Chan)

4:00 PM – 5:00 PM – Reception in the Martin Family Lounge, Accolade East Building, Room 219

We are pleased to announce that the keynote presenters, The Builders Association (New York City) and IRL Labs (Pittsburgh) will stay for the weekend (Nov. 10-11) to run student workshops.

Space in workshops is limited. Priority will be given to AMPD and York University students. Once workshops are full, students will be placed on a waitlist and will be notified if a spot becomes available.

Symposium Workshops


21st Century Storytelling: A Professional Development Workshop in Crossmedia Performance with The Builders Association

Saturday, November 10 & Sunday, November 11

Saturday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Sunday: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Accolade East Building, Rm 209

Led by members of The Builders Association and designed for emerging and professional artists and media-makers working in a variety of disciplines, this hands-on workshop invites participants to explore not only “how” but “why” we integrate media into live performance. Drawing from the unique collaborative creative process of The Builders Association, students will engage in observation, discussion, and devising sessions focused on the use of media in creating live performance.

About The Builders

The Builders Association is an OBIE-award winning performance and media company based in New York City. For over 20 years, The Builders have been at the forefront of the integration of advanced technology and media with live performance. Innovative collaborations are at the heart of Builders productions, which combine media, architecture, light and sound with live performers into an integrated performance aesthetic that has become our signature. The Builders’ focus on “real world” stories as content for our productions — digging into subjects as diverse as Indian call centers, dataveillance, and the recent global economic crisis. We tell these stories through the lens of technology in order to creatively represent the economic, political, and technological forces which affect us daily — to make the invisible visible through the creative potential of multimedia theater.

Our educational programs have engaged diverse groups from a wide range of backgrounds, from high school to professional artists. We have presented workshops at Columbia University, New York University, University of California Berkeley, Ohio State University Columbus, University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, Duke University, Gesnerallee Zurich, V2 Rotterdam, and many other institutions.

Hybrid Drawing: Analog and Digital Drawing and Animation
with Ali Momeni (IRL Labs)

Saturday, November 10

1:00 – 4:00 PM 

Joan & Martin Goldfarb Centre for Fine Arts, Rm 024

This workshop introduces tools, techniques and repertoire for combining analog drawing techniques with real-time digital tools for live performance, installation and public interventions. This methodology departs from the accessibility, expressivity and versatility of mark making with traditional tools (pencil, maker, paper, transparency). The strengths of the medium are then enhances with real-time video processing that allows artists and designers to record, loop, scale and overlay drawings to create complex animations created from simple drawings. The workshop will introduce participants to existing commercial tools for live video and projection mapping (Millumin), as well as custom tools created with frameworks common in new media art (OpenFrameworks, Max). Participants are encouraged to integrate their own tools and work into the workshop activities: bring your laptop, your phone, drawing or sketching tools, lighting implements, etc.

360 Immersive Storytelling: Capture, Compose, Narrate
with Aparna Wilder (IRL Labs)

Sunday, November 11

1:00 – 4:00 PM 

Joan & Martin Goldfarb Centre for Fine Arts, Rm 328

The workshop will begin with an activity focused on the personal narrative. Students should have access to 3-4 digital images that represent their childhood, family, and home. The second part of the workshop will be a team-based exercise where students will create an immersive story based on a nearby location. Activities will include writing, storyboarding, 360 photo capture, narration, and facilitated critique. Participants should bring their own phones and headphones. The workshop will conclude with a brainstorming session where students can iterate ways to use 360 storytelling techniques in combination with their interactive web documentaries.

Sponsorship & Support

This symposium is sponsored by Canada 150 @ York University.

We also want to acknowledge the support from Sensorium: Centre for Digital Arts and Technology, the Graduate Programs in Cinema & Media Arts, Digital Media, and Theatre & Performance Studies, and the Performance Studies (Canada) Speaker Series.

Organizing Committee

Laura Levin, Associate Professor, Theatre & Performance Studies; Director of Sensorium: Centre for Digital Arts & Technology

Michael Longford, Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director, Digital Media, Computational Arts

Taien Ng-Chan, Sessional Assistant Professor, Cinema & Media Arts

Alanna Dunlop, MA Student, Theatre & Performance Studies

Maranda Tippins, Undergraduate Student, Theatre & Performance Studies

Sennah Yee, PhD Student, Cinema & Media Studies

International Conference | September 2018 (Michael Longford, David Gelb)
Edge Effects: Exploring Zones of Transition in Teaching and Making
Digitally Engaged Learning Conference

Edge effects serve as a metaphor and provocation for exploring zones of transition where technologies, disciplines, and ways of knowing overlap producing adaptation, hybridity, and transformation. York partners include AMPD and the Institute for Research on Digital Learning (IRDL). International partners include University of the Arts London, The New School – Parsons, Texas State University, and Penn State College of the Arts and Architecture.

DEL 2018 featured keynote presentations by: Skawennati (AbTeC) and Jason Edward Lewis (Concordia University), Stephanie Dinkins (Stony Brook University), Kate Hartman (OCAD University), Andres Colmenares (Internet Age Media), and a Graduate Student Roundtable featuring Alejandro Mayoral Baños, and Sensorium Graduate Caucus members David Han, Alison Humphrey, and Melanie Wilmink.


Conference | September 2016 (Michael Longford)
Media Architecture Summit

In September 2016, Sensorium Director Michael Longford (with Dave Colangelo, Portland University) organized the Media Architecture Summit 2016 (MAS 2016) at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, presented by Sensorium and AMPD. The symposium brought together over 200 attendees, comprised of scholars, artists and designers, architects, urban planners, representatives from the cultural sector and industry. Panel topics included, context aware illuminated spaces, architectural projection, animated building façades, and interactive installations inviting spontaneous public performance. The event opened with an evening keynote from internationally acclaimed media artist, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. The summit continued with a day of featured talks, panel discussions followed by an evening social hosted at InterAccess. The final day of the summit featured a curatorial panel at University of Toronto and industry workshops at OCAD University. MAS 2016 closed with a curated Nuit Blanche walk organized by Sensorium graduate students. The symposium was funded by a SSHRC Connection Grant, and received additional funding from partners Philips, StrongLED, and Daktronics.

International Conference | April 2013 (Caitlin Fisher)
HASTAC 2013: The Storm of Progress: New Horizons, New Narratives, New Codes 

In April 2013, Sensorium was launched during the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory (HASTAC), an international conference organized by Sensorium member Caitlin Fisher along with Maureen Engel (University of Alberta). The conference was attended by over 200 digital media researchers. Two events sponsored by Sensorium included the Sensorium Inaugural Exhibition featuring interactive and media art works by 10 Sensorium members, as well as a keynote address at the conference by renowned curator, Paola Antonelli, Director of Research and Development in the Department of Architecture and Design at MoMA (NY).

Past Graduate Student Symposia

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FREQUENCIES: Patterning Interconnectivity & Networked Temporality | April 2017

Featured presentations and art by York University students, a Sensorium Postdoctoral Fellow Roundtable, and a keynote presentation by internationally renowned media artist David Rokeby.

SKIN: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Cybernetic Containers | April 2016

Featured keynote speaker Dr. Laura Wiebe (Brock University). The Sensorium Student Symposium offered a unique symbiotic opportunity for emerging researchers and artists to gather, exchange, bond, and cross-fertilize future landscapes for research materializing at disciplinary boundaries.

COLLAPSING CONSTELLATIONS: Remapping Art, Science, and the Planetary | April 2015

The inaugural Sensorium Student Symposium featured the work of 20 MA and PhD students from across Canada working on art and science collaborations to develop innovative models for research involving both ecological and digital media interfaces. Sensorium member Dr. Natasha Myers delivered the keynote for the conference, “Plant Planet: Art, Science, and the Turn to Plants in a Time of Climate Change.”