(Toronto—May 14, 2013) OCAD University President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Sara Diamond was awarded the GRAND Network of Centres of Excellence 2013 Digital Media Pioneer at a ceremony this morning as part of GRAND’s annual digital media conference at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The award celebrates outstanding Canadians whose vision and achievements have made important contributions to the development of digital media.
Dr. Diamond has long championed interdisciplinary collaboration — engaging artists and designers with engineers and scientists in a spirit of diversity and inclusion. From 1992 to 2005 she initiated visionary programs at the Banff Centre, Canada's preeminent arts and creativity incubator. The Banff New Media Institute, created and led by Dr. Diamond during its first decade, provided a national venue and an international forum for exploring many of the ideas and challenges emerging from digital media.
“Canada has long been a leader in digital media, developing new technology, envisioning the social and cultural changes it fosters, and exploring its potential in the artistic, scientific and economic spheres,” said Dr. Kellogg S. Booth, Scientific Director at GRAND NCE. “On behalf of Canadians everywhere, the GRAND Network of Centres of Excellence celebrates the contributions of key individuals who have made played significant roles in the digital media revolution by recognizing them as Canadian Digital Media Pioneers.
“The Banff New Media Institute brought together international thinkers to discuss emerging digital media phenomenon in a quintessentially Canadian environment. Organized by Dr. Sara Diamond, these ‘summits’ helped to guide our understanding of the potential for digital media as participants experimented with it in sometimes playful but always serious ways.”
“Building capacity in digital media research and supporting Canadian industries is dear to my heart,” said Dr. Diamond. “I believe our success as a nation is predicated on a powerful digital economy and society.”
An artist, video curator, cultural critic, television-video producer, and an instructor at art centres and colleges throughout North America, Dr. Diamond is widely published in Canadian and international art and social history journals. Her series of articles in 1985 on cultural politics and feminist ideology investigated the class position of artists and women and links to the production of culture. She later organized several events for Aboriginal artists, producers, directors and critics encouraging dialogue within Canada, and across the United States and the Pacific Rim. These included a series of Aboriginal streaming workshops that examined local radio and television practices of First Nations in Canada and Aboriginal peoples throughout the world, the use of streamed media for creative processes, and technologies such as the World Wide Web as vehicles for producing and disseminating First Nations and Aboriginal art and culture.
With the creation of the Banff New Media Institute (BNMI), Dr. Diamond introduced a uniquely Canadian response to digital media as an emerging cultural force. It succeeded in providing a new convergent space for art, design, science, and technology. Developed as both a physical and virtual centre, the institute created and supported research, social networks, artworks, designs, technologies, theorizations, economies and even companies.
For many, the Institute was a site of first engagement for dialogues, strategies and practices responding to the intensive technological changes underway: the massive adoption of “new media” (and later “digital media”), and the rise, fall and re-emergence of the digital economy. As documented in her book (co-edited by Sarah Cook) Euphoria & Dystopia: The Banff New Media Institute Dialogues, Dr. Diamond hosted important international think tanks and collaborations at the BNMI on information and communications technology, digital media, and scientific research, including a series of influential summits examining the relationship between art and technology.
Invited artists, designers, critical thinkers and scientists from Latin America, Africa, Asia, Central and Western Europe, the United States and Canada coalesced in cross-disciplinary teams that explored the many perspectives and effects of "going digital."
The summits were forums for “design thinking” about the digital world, and helped researchers and practitioners at the forefront of their fields share ideas and visions. Most importantly, the summits engendered in participants a new appreciation for interdisciplinary collaboration. They also helped provide a basis for new initiatives, including the vision for a pan-Canadian digital media research network that formed the early nucleus for the GRAND Network of Centres of Excellence.
Social issues have been at the core of Dr. Diamond’s work, along with family relationships, labour struggles, and modern-day working conditions — especially for women. Her role in advancing artists’ and designers’ work in new technologies has been widely recognized, and her own practice as a new-media artist is heavily influenced by design. She acknowledges that “I ... position myself between the two fields ... [t]he participatory, iterative process of design — the rigour of the design process — I find that very attractive.” Her ambitious CodeZebra project combines art and science and includes CZOS, an advanced web based visualization tool that enables conversation between different individual and groups on the Internet. CodeZebra won a Canadian Digital Innovation Award in 2003.
As President of OCAD University, Dr. Diamond continues her efforts to promote interdisciplinary research and to build digital media industries in Canada. The Digital Futures Initiative and other new research initiatives are exploring the intersections of design with such areas as health and sustainable technologies. She also played a leading role in establishing OCAD U’s unique Indigenous Visual Culture Program and is a co-principal investigator in the Centre for Information Visualization/Data Driven Design, a cross-disciplinary initiative with York University that brings together artists, designers, engineers and scientists.
For many years, Dr. Diamond has been a catalyst in bringing together the many disciplines within the digital media community in dialogue and collaboration. Her leadership at the Banff New Media Institute helped keep Canada at the forefront of international research and practice, while inspiring many others to follow in her footsteps. For this and many other contributions to Canadian digital culture, Sara Diamond is recognized as a Canadian Digital Media Pioneer.
Born in 1954, Dr. Sara Diamond received a BA in History and Communications from Simon Fraser University, a Masters in Digital Media Theory from the University of Arts, London, and a PhD in Computing, Information Technology and Engineering from the University of East London. She has taught at the Emily Carr College of Art and Design, the California Institute for the Arts, University of California, LA (where she continues as an Adjunct Professor) and the Technical University of British Columbia. Beginning in 1992 she was the Director of the Television and Video Program at the Banff Centre and later the Artistic Director of Media and Visual Art, Founding Director of the Banff New Media Institute and Director of Research. Since 2005 she has been the President and Vice-Chancellor of the Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCAD University).
Dr. Diamond has published articles and reviews in Canadian and international art, culture and labour publications including FUSE Magazine, Vanguard, C Magazine, Video Guide, Parallelogram, Popular Studies Journal, and B.C. Heritage. Her video art and broadcast works have been exhibited and screened in Europe, England, Mexico, the Pacific Rim, the United States and Canada, and at numerous video and film festivals around the world. Her videos and installations are in many collections such as the National Gallery of Canada where she had a retrospective in 1992, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Canada Council Art Bank and the California Institute of the Arts. She has served on numerous advisory boards and committees including the Executive of the Council of Ontario Universities, the Ontario Ministry of Culture’s Advisory Council on Arts & Culture, the Standing Advisory Committee on University Research and the Standing Advisory Committee on International Relations for the Association of Universities and Colleges, and the expert panel on the State of Science & Technology in Canada for the Council of the Canadian Academies. She is an appointee of the Order of Ontario and of the Royal Canadian Society of Artists and a recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.
OCAD University (OCAD U):
OCAD University (www.ocadu.ca) is Canada’s “university of imagination.” The university, founded in 1876, is dedicated to art and design education, practice and research and to knowledge and invention across a wide range of disciplines. OCAD University is building on its traditional, studio-based strengths, adding new approaches to learning that champion cross-disciplinary practice, collaboration and the integration of emerging technologies. In the Age of Imagination, OCAD University community members will be uniquely qualified to act as catalysts for the next advances in culture, technology and quality of life for all Canadians.
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Sarah Mulholland, Media & Communications Officer
416-977-6000 x327 (mobile x1327)