Research Labs

Research in Sensorium’s clusters is supported by a consortium of labs across AMPD:

Alice Lab for Computational Worldmaking

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The Alice Lab for Computational Worldmaking develops transferable knowledge and creative coding technology as well as intensifying computationally literate art practice in the construction of responsive artificial worlds experienced through rapidly emerging mixed/hybrid reality technologies including both Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). Inspired by the creativity of nature, its research-creation program leverages strong simulation and the self-modifying capacity of computational media to create artificial worlds whose rules can be rewritten while participants interact within them, pioneering heightened levels of human-machine interaction and intensified aesthetic experience through meaningful engagement using the whole body. Cutting across work in generative art, computer graphics, human-computer interaction, artificial life, complex systems and compiler technology, this research program reinforces influential work at York in augmented reality, computer vision, stereoscopic cinema and ubiquitous screens, and results in transferable research, open-source tools, and novel creative works.

PRINCIPAL RESEARCHER: Graham Wakefield, Canada Research Chair; Assistant Professor, Computational Arts/Visual Art & Art History

Augmented Reality (AR) Lab

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The Augmented Reality (AR) Lab is dedicated to producing innovative expressive tools, research methods, interfaces and content that challenge cinematic and literary conventions and aim to enhance how people interact with their physical environment and with each other. Part of the Future Cinema Lab in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design, the AR Lab offers researchers the opportunity to explore new screen technologies, approaches and techniques through both production and theoretical study of this emerging medium. The lab offers some of the most advanced technology available to practitioners in a fine arts context anywhere in the world.

Researchers in the AR Lab have produced international award-winning immersive AR pieces, interactive theatre, AR fiction and poetry for iPads and iPhones as well as AR installations and mobile media. Students in the lab are undertaking research at the cutting edge of art/science collaborations and are often involved in international partnerships. Graduate trainees have presented work at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, published documentation of prototypes in arts and culture journals, participated in SIGGRAPH, ISEA, DAC, ISMAR, TEDx Dubai, ELO, MLA, HASTAC and SCMS, delivered keynote addresses internationally, and launched software and publishing ventures.

The AR Lab is part of the Ontario Augmented Reality Network and has collaborated with Georgia Tech, the Ontario Science Centre, TIFF/Nexus and Millenium3 Engineering, among others. The AR Lab is also engaged in public outreach initiatives and frequently delivers hands-on workshops. Workshop participants to date include women in the gaming industry, Women in Film and Television,  the Ontario Augmented Reality Association, historians, schoolchildren and museum goers.

PRINCIPAL RESEARCHER:  Caitlin Fisher, Associate Professor, Cinema & Media Arts


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BetaSpace – named after the media industry’s term “beta release” for a project that is ready for public testing – is Media Art’s co-working lab space that can facilitate interdepartmental initiatives with cutting-edge digital equipment and resources. It is found in the basement level of the Joan & Martin Goldfarb Centre for Fine Arts and is comprised of a large studio lab and equipment closet, partitioned for physically-distanced work/play spaces (CFA024), a classroom/studio space (CFA026), the office of the Media Arts Technical Coordinator (CFA030), and a high-tech editing lounge, currently in development (077). All equipment for Media Arts will be signed out at BetaSpace.

PRINCIPAL RESEARCHER: Taien Ng-Chan, Assistant Professor, Cinema Media Arts 

Centre for Imaginative Ethnography

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The Performance Ethnography section of the Centre for Imaginative Ethnography employs theatre and performance—as collaborative, multisensorial, and transdisciplinary modalities— at the level of ethnographic process, analysis, and representation. Our group members work at the intersection of humanistic anthropology, theatre and performance studies, and visual anthropology. We initiate dialogues about how ethnographic performance-creation might help us reconceptualize public engagement, activism, collaboration, reflexivity, and representation.

PRINCIPAL RESEARCHER: Magdalena Kazubowski-Houston, Associate Professor, Performance Studies


Current Projects

the morning I died I flew over the tobacco fields 

A multimedia ethnographic performance project based on the morning I died I flew over the tobacco fields, a short story written by Lynn Hutchinson Lee—a multimedia artist/writer, daughter of a Canadian mother and Romanichal (English Romani) father, living and working in Toronto. the morning I died I flew over the tobacco fields… is inspired by the life of Lynn’s father’s sister and takes place during the latter part of the Depression. Lynn’s aunt climbs onto a roof being tarred by her father and brothers and is enchanted by the sight of two swans on a pond owned by the wealthy tobacco farmer for whom her family works. She is hired as a paid companion for a farmer’s wife, Missus Quince, and is assigned the task of preparing food for the swans. Over the years, Lynn’s aunt finds comfort in her visions of the two swans on the pond who often ‘visit’ her at night, and eventually becomes a healer of birds. The performance blurs the lines between documentary and fiction, and uses film, photography, spoken/written word, and multi-media installation to tell the story of family, identity and absence.

Direction: Magdalena Kazubowski-Houston and Shawn Kazubowski-Houston
Dramaturgy: Lynn Hutchinson Lee
Assistant Direction: Becky Gold
Audiovisual Ethnographer: Rajat Nayyar
Ethnographic Photographer: Amadeusz Kazubowski-Houston
Costume Design: Marta Shpak
Performers: Leanne Hoffman, Sadie Wells Liddy

Co-sponsored by Centre for Imaginative Ethnography and Sensorium – Centre for Digital Arts and Technology

Online Performance Date:  March 26, 2021 


Digital Sculpture Lab

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The Digital Sculpture Lab (DSL) is a one-of-a-kind facility dedicated to the study and utilization of emerging 3D printing technology, investigating the collapsing borders between the digital universe and the reality of physical objects.

Established in 2005 with support from Canadian Foundation for Innovation and the Ontario Ministry of Innovation, the DSL allows for the translation of digitally designed objects into actuality, which not only represents a new process of creating but demands a complete rethinking of the way we perceive and relate to physical objects. The three main research objectives of the DSL are to:

  • utilize this technology in the enhancement of already existing sculptural processes
  • explore the possibilities for new conceptual and physical practices that this technology makes possible for the production of cultural objects and the manufacturing sector
  • adapt and evolve this technology in a critical environment in order to advance the technology of 3D printing

The DSL is structured around a central design station, comprising several computers used to design objects in virtual reality, that serves as the hub of the laboratory. Augmenting this hub are physical work stations where the coded information is translated into three-dimensional objects in a variety of materials and composites. The systems utilized range from CNC milling machines and plasma cutters to advanced rapid prototyping machines, as well as a 3D scanning station allowing for physical objects to be translated into the virtual realm.

PRINCIPAL RESEARCHER: Brandon Vickerd, Associate Professor, Visual Art & Art History

DIStributed PERformance and Sensorial immersION Lab

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Founded in 2015 by Doug Van Nort, DisPerSion Lab, located at York University, is dedicated to research-creation projects which examine questions surrounding instrumental and gestural expression, embodied perception, time consciousness and performative agency in the context of envisioning new forms of interdisciplinary creative practice. The lab space is defined by an environment suffused with reactive, intelligent digital media within which to explore new forms of artistic expression, and new insights into how we sense, process and interact with the performing arts in the post/digital age. The lab culture is defined by improvised inquiry and exploration of distributed creativity through music and movement-based performance practices that are mediated by contexts such as the physical distribution of performers across internet-based networks, and distribution of creative decisions between human performers and “artificially creative” computational agents.

PRINCIPAL RESEARCHER: Doug Van Nort, Canada Research Chair; Associate Professor, Computational Arts/Music/Theatre

Future Cinema Lab

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The Future Cinema Lab (FCL) is an innovative transmedia research umbrella bringing together York Fine Arts faculty, students, alumni and scholars whose diverse projects investigate how new digital storytelling techniques are critically transforming, and being transformed by, new screen technologies. The  first dedicated facility of its kind in Canada, the FCL enables researchers to design new forms of storytelling, develop prototypes for urban research, and create innovative, subversive new media projects within networked and hybrid media environments. Since 2007, FCL members have used lab resources and facilities to produce new media installations, present outdoor screenings in public spaces, curate interactive exhibitions, and initiate pioneering artists projects involving locative media, GPS, cellphone apps, augmented reality and urban transit commuter screens.

The FCL was initiated as a joint research project between Professors John Greyson, Caitlin Fisher and Janine Marchessault, bringing together their unique and complementary practices as researchers, artists, filmmakers and curators within a spectrum of new media practices. In 2009 Professors Mark-David Hosale, Ali Kazimi, Brenda Longfellow and Don Sinclair joined the lab as collaborators, expanding the FCL’s areas of concern to include interactive web documentary, hybrid new media projects and 3-D installation.

The FCL approaches the emerging and established fields of site-specific art,  transmedia and digital activism with hybrid perspectives, emphasizing issues of diversity, social justice and digital citizenship. In the face of an overwhelmingly powerful entertainment industry that monopolizes the world’s screens and future cinemas, researchers involved in FCL recognize the urgency to create new kinds of shared experiences that exist outside the lab or the profit-driven marketplace, engaging with some of the most pressing social and ecological issues facing our planet today.

Janine Marchessault, Professor, Cinema & Media Arts
Caitlin Fisher, Associate Professor, Cinema & Media Arts
John Greyson, Associate Professor, Cinema & Media Arts
Mark-David Hosale, Associate Professor, Computational Arts
Ali Kazimi, Associate Professor, Cinema & Media Arts
Brenda Longfellow, Associate Professor, Cinema & Media Arts
Don Sinclair, Chair, Computational Arts

Mobile Media Lab

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The Mobile Media Lab (MML) is co-located at York University in Toronto and Concordia University in Montreal. It comprises an interdisciplinary research team exploring wireless communications, mobile technologies and locative media practices. MML brings together a unique configuration of expertise in art, design, engineering, new media, cultural theory, social science and policy studies. Projects projects treat physical territory as an active and volatile interface using networked technologies to connect the physical to the virtual.

Current research encompasses:

  • collaborative gaming and performance in mobile contexts
  • playful and alternative interaction scenarios for mobile and portable computing
  • exploration of novel physical interfaces
  • integration of the physical and virtual studio utilizing 3D modeling and rapid prototyping technologies
  • experimentation with new processes and materials development.

MML researchers have produced projects exploring the cultural and aesthetic dimensions of media-rich content for mobile platforms using an assemblage of cell phones, PDAs, GPS systems, custom-built Bluetooth sensors, and open source software. Their research probes how these subtle technologies augment, enhance, deplete, mediate and foster new sensations of temporality in urban contexts and outdoor spaces.

Interdisciplinary collaboration is an integral part of MML research. Past and current collaborations include universities, research institutes and industry partners including Concordia University, the Mobile Experience Lab at OCAD U, the Canadian Film Centre Media Lab, Hexagram: Institute for Research/Creation in Media Arts and Technologies, and Apple Canada.

PRINCIPAL RESEARCHER: Michael Longford, Director, Sensorium; Associate Professor, Computational Arts


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The n-D::StudioLab is a facility designed for the research and development of transmodal artworks based on a worldmaking agenda.

The “n” in n-D refers to vast potential and the infinite. The “D” refers to:

  • n-Disciplinary – trans-disciplinary, blurring boundaries, cross breeding and evolving fields
  • n-Dimensional – expanding, complex and continuous
  • n-Domain – trans-sensory, trans-experiential, transmodal

The n-D::StudioLab is an adaptable space that can accommodate unexpected projects and unknown future technologies with as few limitations as possible. Research-creation activities in the n-D::StudioLab revolve around the activities of theoretical discourse, methodological development and the production of works. The common foci of these activities explore questions and produce work in the areas of art/science, media art and Interactive architecture. While a distinction between theory, methods and making can be helpful for discussion, in practice they are interrelated with the output of one activity being the catalyst of another. Since its inception in fall 2011 the n-D::StudioLab has been involved in the research and development of several works that have been shown internationally.

PRINCIPAL RESEARCHER: Mark-David Hosale, Associate Professor, Computational Arts

Peripheral Visions Lab

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The Peripheral Visions Lab is an assemblage of research activities that decentre vision, emphasizing the peripheral perspectives of queer, feminist, critical disability, and decolonial critique. The lab cultivates different ways of seeing, sensing, feeling, and understanding, locating sensory experience in bodies that are situated historically and materially in fields of power.  The lab recently partnered with Sensorium and VISTA to launch the Peripheral Visions Speakers series, which features speakers who problematize normative vision, explore the multi-sensory networks of blind epistemology, theorize Indigenous visioning practices, and investigate the creative innovation of crip technoscience.

PRINCIPAL RESEARCHER: Mary Bunch, Assistant Professor, Cinema & Media Arts

Social and Technological Systems (SaTS) Lab

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Social and Technological Systems (SaTS) lab tackles social challenges using Human Centred Design, Systems Design and Speculative design approaches. Current research projects focus on addressing UN Sustainable Development Goals pertaining to health and wellbeing, ageing, global health and education challenges.

The SaTS lab is part of School of Arts Media Performance and Design (AMPD).
PRINCIPAL RESEARCHER: Shital Desai, Assistant Professor, Design 

SLOlab: Systems | Life | Ontologies

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The SLOlab is an interdisciplinary research-creation laboratory that supports the creation of artworks, creative probes, and critical technological investigations that draw attention to complexity and the interconnections found in and around (non) human engagement within the world. Through the mattering of (complex) systems, research in the lab investigates the sympoietic and slippery relationships that weave together and form living ecologies. Creative projects seek out the hidden dependencies within systems, and pluck at the cultural, ecological, political, and philosophical threads that contribute to and make up the fabric of the world that we participate in. Creators in the lab combine traditional and non-tradition art materials with a diverse range of technological tools, including physical computing, IoT, 3D imaging, LIDAR, digital fabrication, machine learning/AI and creative coding to situate participants within embodied and participatory experiences. Research goals for the lab are diverse and range from formal outcomes such as research papers and curatorial, artistic and archival projects, to community focused outreach designed to invigorate conversation through performance, workshops and other events. The SLOlab is an inclusive and open space that fosters dialogue and discovery with the goal of finding new working methodologies and ways of thinking and moving with and through the world.

PRINCIPAL RESEARCHER: Jane Tingley, Associate Professor, Computational Arts