Sensorium researchers engage in research-creation, curatorial and scholarly projects both individually and in interdisciplinary research teams. Sensorium’s research clusters provide multiple entry points for new members and serve as a nexus of a research community that includes faculty, staff, and students from AMPD and across the university, encouraging organic project development. The research clusters include:
Performance, Embodiment and Sentient Systems
Research-creation in this area explores the spectrum of performance, from public experiences to galleries and proscenium stages, with integrated focus on the intersection of the human body and adaptive media systems. Work in this area traverses theories of multi-sensory experience, applications of sensing technologies, open-ended participatory artificial life environments and the intersection of machine agents and the performing arts.
Media Environments + Ecologies
Involves the creation of interactive installations and immersive environments, networked objects and wearables, digital fabrication, and data visualization. Mobilizing emerging technologies in urban environments, the city turned interface is explored through large-scale projection and interactive media facades, mobile and locative media.
Future Cinema + Next Generation Gaming
Involves the creation of new stories for new screens, researchers who are developing integrated, performance based, and networked media projects. Working with everything from interactive documentaries, AR and VR, large-format media and pervasive games alongside site-specific interventions, this area of research seeks to develop digital technologies that are expanding the affective and cinematic geographies of contemporary media cultures.
Social Practice + Community Engagement
Explores how digital and communication based media can be creatively used foster social and political change. Some examples of research undertaken in this area include, agit-prop and cyber-activism, VR in human-rights work, and building of community connection and dissent through social media.
Sensorium is made up of a consortium of labs that support research creation, curatorial and scholarly projects led by individual faculty members and interdisciplinary research teams. The research community supported by, and contributing to, the ongoing development of project-based research in the labs include faculty, staff, students from AMPD and across the University.
Alice Lab for Computational Worldmaking
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, Assistant Professor, Computational Arts
Augmented Reality (AR) Lab
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
Digital Sculpture Lab
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
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, Assistant Professor, Computational Arts, Theatre
Future Cinema Lab
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
Ali Kazimi, Associate Professor, Cinema & Media Arts
Don Sinclair, Chair, Computational Arts
Brenda Longfellow, Associate Professor, Cinema & Media Arts
Mark-David Hosale, Assistant Professor, Computational Arts
Mobile Media Lab
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. The Lab has also been exploring the relationship between ageing, communication and media through a series of collaborations and partnerships with seniors (Ageing Communication Media).
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.
Michael Longford, Associate Professor, Computational Arts
Barbara Crow, Dean of Arts and Science, Queen’s University
Kim Sawchuk, Professor in Communication Studies, Concordia University
Owen Chapman, Associate Professor in Communication Studies, Concordia University
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, Assistant Professor,Computational Arts
Stereoscopic 3D Lab
Established in 2012 with support from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, the Stereoscopic 3D Lab (S3DL@York) emerged from the alliance of filmmaker, scholar and visual artist Ali Kazimi with vision science researchers Laurie Wilcox and Rob Allison along with industry partners including Cinespace Film Studios, 3D Camera Company, IMAX and Christie Digital. The goals of S3DL@York are twofold: creative and scientific. Researchers use the infrastructure of the lab to explore the uncharted creative possibilities offered by digital stereoscopy to create industry-standard stereoscopic 3D material and to conduct rigorous physiological and psychological testing. The aim is to provide original, important, scientifically-based perceptual data for the development of stereoscopic 3D films; to contribute to a knowledge base in Canada for stereoscopic 3D production in film, installation and multi-media; and to serve as a catalyst for other related new media developments by providing training in stereography and disseminating research data and results from prototype-based experimentation. The purpose of this research is also to contribute significantly to the knowledge base of stereoscopic 3D film language and to make this knowledge available to other filmmakers, researchers and commercial 3D technology developers.
S3DL@York researchers are currently engaged in a three-year project called Depth in Motion, funded by a research/creation grant from the New Media Initiative of the Canada Council and NSERC.
PRINCIPAL RESEARCHER: Ali Kazimi, Associate Professor, Cinema & Media Arts