Fine Arts celebrates its reseachers with ‘Imagining the Invisible’

York’s Faculty of Fine Arts opens its doors to the community on Wednesday, Feb. 25, with Imagining the Invisible, a full day of tours and presentations highlighting some of the exciting research and creation projects currently underway in the Faculty. From cutting-edge explorations in augmented reality and mobile technologies to a world premiere dance/media performance, the program celebrates and makes accessible the work being done by Fine Arts researchers as well as facilitates connections and research collaborations University-wide.

Nell Tenhaaf (left) , Fine Arts associate dean, graduate studies, research & planning, identified a need to demystify the research happening in the Faculty. “Imagining the Invisible offers a glimpse into a world of research that I think many people are intrigued by, but may not have had opportunities to experience or understand,” Tenhaaf said. “It showcases the amazing range and diversity of our research, from innovative creation projects like the film Rex vs. Singh and the choreographic work (Re)Tracing Fred to creating something physical that previously only existed in a digital realm.”

Fine Arts research officer Suzanne Jaeger conceived the idea and planned the day with the goal to spark new interdisciplinary collaborations. “Research collaborations start with networking so there will be many chances for people to connect throughout the day,” said Jaeger. “Starting the day with an Interdisciplinary Speed Research Dating breakfast will give participants – and onlookers – the chance to discover common ground, explore new areas of research and maximize each other’s skills. The extra incentive of competition and prizes should add to the energy and sense of fun.

“There are fantastic opportunities for partnerships between Fine Arts and other Faculties,” Jaeger said. "Artists bring to research projects highly creative thinking, alternative forms of research dissemination and the possibility of engaging broader communities. I hope that Imagining the Invisible excites the imagination of everyone who visits.”  

Imagining the Invisible unfolds in a series of presentations throughout the day in various locations in the Fine Arts complex.

The celebration kicks off with an Interdisciplinary Research Speed Dating Event, from 9 to 10am in the Faculty Common Room, 214 Goldfarb Centre for Fine Arts. Participants have the opportunity for two “dates” with fellow researchers with whom they develop an interdisciplinary research proposal. Prizes (to be awarded at the closing reception) will be offered for the best proposals in three different categories. Visitors are eligible to win door prizes.

Film Professor Caitlin Fisher (left), Canada Research Chair in Digital Culture, then takes centre stage with her presentation “Poetry generators, Fogscreens and Augmented Reality Tools for Artists” from 10:15 to 11:15am in the Future Cinema Lab, 309 Goldfarb Centre for Fine Arts. Fisher will lead a tour of the Augmented Reality Lab, part of York’s Future Cinema Lab. Supported by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the Future Cinema Lab is the first dedicated lab of its kind in Canada. It allows researchers to investigate how new storytelling techniques can critically transform a diverse array of state-of-the-art screens, and how these new technologies transform conventional experiences of fiction creation. Fisher will demonstrate projects currently under way in the lab, including pieces for interactive fogscreen, the poetry generator, a new artist-friendly interface for the construction of augmented reality pieces – and some surprises.

From 11:30am to 12:30pm, visual arts Professor Brandon Vickerd (right), presents “Machines, The New Studio Slaves” in the Resource Centre & Digital Sculpture Lab, 195A Goldfarb Centre for Fine Arts. Vickerd will welcome visitors for a tour and talk in the new, CFI-supported 3D Digital Sculpture Laboratory. The lab consists of several solid state printing systems controlled by a central computer network. Solid state printers are a relatively new technology created by the manufacturing and engineering industry, and Vickerd and his team are taking the technology to a whole new creative level. Artists working in the lab are able to create complexly layered objects in the virtual reality of a software program and then replicate them in three-dimensional space.

“Deciphering Operation Matilda: The Bayeux Tapestry, Germanic Nationalism and the Nazi Project, 1939-1944” is the fascinating title of a presentation by Professor Shirley Ann Brown (left), Department of Visual Arts. Brown will deliver her talk from 12:45 to 1:45pm, in the Faculty Common Room, 214 Goldfarb Centre for Fine Arts. She will speak about the famed Bayeux Tapestry, an historic 11th-century work of art that visually documents the Norman conquest of England. Brown, an art historian and medievalist, explores the Nazi appropriation of the Bayeux Tapestry and its potential as nationalist propaganda in her SSHRC-supported research. 

Department of Design Professor Michael Longford (left) together with York Vice-President Research & Innovation Stan Shapson will speak on “The Mobile Media Lab – New Projects & Collaborations”. They will deliver their presentation from 1:45 to 2:15pm, in 214 Goldfarb Centre for Fine Arts. A joint project of York and Concordia University, the Mobile Media Lab supports an interdisciplinary research team exploring wireless communications and mobile technologies. Longford will discuss new projects and collaborations recently undertaken in the lab: the Marconi Galaxy and application development for the Apple iPhone. 

Darcey Callison (right), professor and director of the Graduate Program in Dance presents Da Collision: (Re)Tracing Fred – a world premiere performance* – from 2 to 3:30pm in the Sandra Faire & Ivan Fecan Theatre, 110 Accolade East Building. From screen stars Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly to John Travolta and Jon Heder’s Napoleon Dynamite, Callison’s new dance/media work (Re)Tracing Fred reinterprets Hollywood film’s choreography for males, exploring the ever-present assumption that there is something inherently masculine within the danced languages Hollywood constructs for men. Seven professional dancers perform live on stage within a virtual world created with the Dance Department’s new state-of-the-art Catalyst media server. The production is part of Callison’s larger, SSHRC-supported investigations into the nature of gender in dance. Callison and the dancers will engage visitors in a post-performance talk. Click here for more on (Re) Tracing Fred.

*Note: This performance is a public, ticketed event. Tickets are available online through the York University Box Office Web site. 

Film Professors John Greyson (left) and Ali Kazimi (below, right) present their short film Rex vs. Singh (2008, 30 min.) from 3:45 to 4:30pm, in 214 Goldfarb Centre for Fine Arts. Commissioned by the Queer History Project, this experimental video explores an historical event in Canadian history and human rights: the 1915 trial of two Sikh millworkers in Vancouver who were entrapped by undercover police and accused of sodomy. Rex vs. Singh is a riveting case study of power relations – how police corruption, racism, homophobia and a covert "whites-only” immigration policy conspired to maintain the status quo – presented in an innovative, hybrid form: part period drama, part documentary and part musical agitprop.

An exhibition of publications, recordings and other materials showcasing the broad range and diversity of research and creative work being done by faculty members and graduate students in the Faculty of Fine Arts will be on view throughout the day in the Faculty Common Room, 214, Goldfarb Centre for Fine Arts.

The research celebration will conclude with a reception from 4:30 to 6pm in the CIBC Lobby, Accolade East Building.

"Imagining the Invisible" is produced and presented by the Faculty of Fine Arts with support from the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation. Student and faculty researchers from across the University are invited to drop in when and wherever they can. For full program details, visit the Imagining the Invisible Web site.