Fine Arts launches Sensorium, a new research cluster focused on digital arts and technology

York University’s Faculty of Fine Arts launches Sensorium, an ambitious new research cluster focusing on digital arts and technology, with a free public event on April 26 in the Accolade East Building on York’s Keele campus.

The launch features a keynote lecture by Paola Antonelli, research director and curator at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, and an interactive exhibition showcasing digital media research under way in the Faculty of Fine Arts.

Paola_Antontelli-cropPaola Antonelli

“We have so many outstanding researchers doing cutting-edge work in this field in dedicated labs across the Faculty and beyond,” says Faculty of Fine Arts Dean Barbara Sellers-Young. “Sensorium lets us link up and leverage their creative expertise, connections and facilities to foster new collaborative and cross-disciplinary research and encourage more community and industry partnerships.”

Sensorium’s mandate is to support work in application and content creation, the intersection of artistic and scientific inquiry, policy development and critical discourse in digital media arts.

“It’s a catalyst for new ideas and experimentation,” says the Faculty’s Associate Dean of Research Michael Longford, and a pivotal force in the establishment of Sensorium. “We’re launching with six labs and four dozen researchers as full and associate members. Sensorium provides a framework to advance and expand this creative convergence and the innovative research it engenders.”

Integrating both digital technologies and human factors, areas of specialization within Sensorium include: 3D cinema and stereography, rapid prototyping, data mining and visualization, bioinformatics, locative media, augmented reality, virtual and immersive environments, interface and interaction design, artificial intelligence, technologically-mediated performance, physical computing, and networked media architecture. The impact of digital technologies on the creative knowledge industries is a central research axis.

Michael LongfordMichael Longford

Janine Marchessault, Canada Research Chair in Art, Digital Media and Globalization, a Trudeau Fellow, professor of cinema and media studies and co-founder of the Future Cinema Lab in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, serves as Sensorium’s inaugural director.

Sensorium opens its doors Friday, April 26 with a public presentation at 3pm by Paola Antonelli, director of research and development and senior curator in the Department of Architecture and Design at MoMA. In her talk, titled “Technology, Science and Design: The New Frontiers”, she will speak to the catalytic intersection of technology, science and design today.

“Design has branched out in new directions, galvanizing young practitioners, sparking novel business models and attracting worldwide attention,” said Antonelli. “A designer today can choose to focus on interaction, interfaces, the web, visualization, socially-minded infrastructures, immersive spaces, biodesign, sustainability, video games, critical scenarios – and yes, even products and furniture.”

The recipient of the Smithsonian Institution’s prestigious National Design Award, “Design Mind”, Antonelli was named one of the 25 most incisive design visionaries by Time magazine in 2007 and was inducted into the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame in 2011. She has curated many memorable exhibitions for MoMA, including SAFE: Design Takes on Risk, Design and the Elastic Mind and Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects. She has also curated architecture and design shows in Italy, France and Japan. Her current projects include several exhibitions on contemporary design and Design Bites, a book about food appreciated as examples of outstanding design.

DSC_6163-Janine_Marchessault-CANADIANARTJanine Marchessault

Antonelli’s keynote address is also a highlight of the 2013 HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science & Technology Advanced Collaboratory) conference The Storm of Progress: New Horizons, New Narratives, New Codes, hosted by the Faculty of Fine Arts and York University.

Framing Antonelli’s lecture is the Sensorium inaugural exhibition, spotlighting some of the digital media research currently being conducted by Fine Arts faculty members.

Featured projects include: Longford’s Tentacles 2.0, a smartphone-controlled, multi-user ambient gaming experience projected into public spaces; Ocean Within, a two-channel stereoscopic 3D work based on a couplet from a poem by the 13th century Sufi poet Rumi, created by film Professor Ali Kazimi, lead filmmaker on the interdisciplinary team for 3D FLIC (Film Innovation Consortium); Visual arts Professor Nell Tenhaaf’s Win Win, an electronic interactive sculpture modeling social exchanges between the art object and the viewer; Future Cinema Lab researcher and film Professor John Greyson’s Murder in Passing, a trans-media, multi-platform serial “whodunit” for public transit screens that combines clues from silent videos, blogs, tweets and fugues; and Quasar 3.0 [Danger du Zero], an immersive, interactive light and sound installation fed by data fields, developed by York digital media Professor Mark-David Hosale and Los Angeles-based architect and engineer Jean-Michel Crettaz.

Antonelli’s lecture and the Sensorium exhibition are open to the public. Admission is free.

For more information about Sensorium, affiliated researchers, labs and projects, and the launch event, visit the Sensorium website.