Digital Futures 2017 Medal Winner Displays Research at i-Docs 2018

911 Room - Photo courtesy of the artist
Hall - Photo courtesy of the artist
Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Congratulations Fusun Uzun (MFA 2017), recent Diigtal Futures MFA alumni and 2017 Medal Winner, on having her research poster accepted as part of i-Docs' event showcase of immersive work.

Fusun's medal winning research project, titled Very Frustrating Mexican Removal, is an immersive, 360° verbatim documentary about immigration detention in Canada. 

i-Docs explores the intersectoin between digital interactive technology and documentary practice. It is part of the Digital Cultures Research Centre at UWE Bristol.


i-Docs 2018
March 21-23, Bristol, UK

Fusun Uzun

For more information about the Digital Futures Graduate Program:




Cape Dorset/Papunya

Cape Dorset/Papunya

  • To systematize the art and artist of Cape Dorset
  • To understand and articulate the persistence of identity in the face of external pressures
  • To understand Inuit “servivance” in an extreme environment as a distinct culture
Cape Dorset/Papunya - INVC Research Centre - OCAD University
Tuesday, March 21, 2017 - 12:00pm

On the Road Artist Residency

Saturday, October 1, 2016 - 4:00pm

On the Road
Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara & Catherine Sicot

Curated by Catherine Sicot

Organized and produced by Elegoa Cultural Productions

In partnership with Onsite Gallery at OCAD University

With the participation of:

  • Plug In Institute of Canadian Art (Winnipeg, Canada)
  • Columbia College (Chicago, USA)
  • Dept. of Art, University at Buffalo (Buffalo, USA)
  • Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Centre (Buffalo, USA)
  • Wanda Nanibush (Curator)
  • Nicholas Quiring (Architect)
  • Thank you to Michael and Amira Dan for their multi-layered support to the project

An experimental framework for an emerging Cuban artist in residence

On the Road offers an experimental model of an artist residency tailored to respond to the needs of an emerging Cuban artist – Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara - coming for his first experience in Canada and the United States. For this residence, artist and curator - Catherine Sicot - will travel throughout a portion of North America on both the Canadian and American sides of the Great Lakes. This journey will be punctuated by:

  • Meeting curators, architects, artists and locals;
  • Taking part in conversations, studio visits and networking meetings in diverse arts institutions and universities;
  • Leading research including two up-coming art projects described below;
  • Keeping an ongoing travel log: Mimi Joh-Carnella, Cultural Advocate, and Lisa Deanne Smith will pilot an OCAD/Onsite website platform for On the Road, providing tools and support to an online travel log throughout the residency.

Designed in consideration with the artist’s practice focused on politics, society and human rights, the residency will explore the layers of history and politics that resulted in the actual borders in North America and the current state of life within and amongst nations on both sides. It will also facilitate encounters with artists and curators that share these interests.

While On the Road evokes Jack Kerouac’s mythical initiatory American Beat journey, Anishinaabe artist Bonnie Devine’s work Battle for the Woodlands has also inspired this project and its itinerary. Devine’s installation, at the Art Gallery of Ontario (2014), expanded an early 19th century map of Upper and Lower Canada, claiming the Great Lakes as an integral part of the Anishinaabe land and culture. This work serves as a second historical and contemporary land mark to On the Road.

Collaborations / Itinerary:


  • Winnipeg (Manitoba): Luis and Catherine will conduct site visits and participate in a 2-day workshop at the Plug-In Summer Institute lead by First Nations artist Duane Linklater and curator Jaimie Issac as part of their project Wood Land School: Thunderbird Woman.
  • Christian Island, Georgian Bay (Ontario): Curator Wanda Nanibush will host a visit at Beausoleil First Nation reserve and of the surrounding area: the Huronia.
  • Montréal (Québec): Curator Wanda Nanibush will organize a studio visit with artist Rebecca Belmore (Anishinaabe-Canadian) and Osvald Yero (Cuban). Luis Manuel and Catherine will conduct other studio and site visits.
  • Detroit (Michigan): Independent architect Nicholas Quiring will host site and studio visits and meetings with activists, architects and artists. Curator Lisa Deanne Smith, Onsite Gallery (OCAD U) will participate in the Detroit visit.


  • Traverse City (Michigan): Visit of the farming area with independent architect Nicholas Quiring and encounter with a Mexican community of seasonal migrant workers, local activists and social workers. Artist and professor Min Sook Lee (OCAD U) will take part in the Traverse City visit.
  • Toronto (Ontario): Onsite Gallery/Ontario College of Art & Design University (OCAD U): Curator Lisa Deanne Smith, in collaboration with artists/professors Johanna Householder and Min Sook Lee, will host a 2-week residency including an artist and curator public talk, performance/installation, site visits, conversations with students and professors, studio visits and networking meetings.


  • Buffalo (Upstate New York): Artist/professor Millie Chen from the Dept. of Art, University at Buffalo in collaboration with the Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Centre will organize a 1-week residency including a public talk and performance, site visits, conversations, studio visits and networking meetings.
  • Chicago (Illinois): Artist/professor Matt Rappaport (Columbia College) will host a 8 to 15 day visit in Chicago including site visits, conversations, studio visits and networking meetings at Columbia College. Art writer/professor (School of the Art Institute) Rachel Weiss will also host Luis Manuel and Catherine in her residence near Chicago.
Luis Manuel Otero's Vehicule

International Research: Focus on Asia

Monday, November 10, 2008 - 5:00pm to 6:30pm

The Office of Research would like to
invite you to come out and learn more about the fascinating research projects
of some of our faculty. Speaking at the November 10th event will be: _

Judith Doyle

In January 2008 Doyle was a Visiting Lecturer at the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA - Digital Media Program) in Beijing, and at Tongji University's College of Architecture and Urban Planning in Shanghai. Doyle delivered a Memorandum of Understanding co-signed by the presidents of OCAD and CAFA, opening doors for future academic cooperation. She will show pictures and share information about these schools._

Lynne Milgram

Milgram's presentation will explore the work of Filipina entrepreneurs in Baguio City, Philippines who have developed a branch of the global trade in secondhand clothing between Hong Kong and the Philippines. Building on kinship networks of women working in Hong Kong, these entrepreneurs navigate formal government and informal economic and cultural channels to operationalize a transnational trade that straddles legal-illegal practice in both locales. Milgram argues that Filipina entrepreneurs’ transnational activism in the Hong-Kong-Philippine used clothing trade reconfigures the market to unsettle essentialist categories of economy, class, value and legality. By crafting global, feminized circuits of commodities and using multiply migrant communities these traders situate local initiatives within wider negotiations of meaning and agency to challenge the common exclusion of actions on the edge from analyses of destabilizing political and global forces.-_


Soyang Park

Park’s research deals with contemporary South Korean society, culture and art viewed through a postcolonial perspective. This builds on her previous research on anti-authoritarian democratization movement and art of 1980s and early 90s but moves the focus on changes in Korean society since the transformation of an authoritarian regime to a civilian, democratic one after 1993. Her research identifies ways in which artists, cultural activists and the public themselves led and represented this societal transformation through their political, creative and discursive activities. In this talk, Park will introduce two interconnected research projects that have been undertaken in this context, entitled, 1.Postcolonial Aesthetics 2. Enacting Memory and Performing Community: Politics, Culture and Art in Post-Minjung South Korea (1993- 2006).

Venue & Address: 
Room 544 100 McCaul St., Toronto, Ontario


Three related factors appear to be relevant in allowing an understanding of online behaviors: attention (the time that individuals and groups expend); influence (the relationships between ideas, products and behaviors) and affect (the emotions and sentiments that are expressed in relation to ideas and products). The extraction of accurate data, then the analysis of these factors in online behavior, and the charting and representation of relationships between these factors poses a significant challenge. For one thing, these factors need to be related to specific content. Data analytics and visualization tools are needed to represent each factor and to chart these relationships. There is very little research to date that works across these fields. This large-scale project seeks to shed light on each element of online social media practice and to then draw relationships between these elements.

Research Description:

People perform topic-based content exploration on large-scale social media systems. Such sites continue to expand rapidly. For example, Twitter continues to grow around the globe at a record pace. Just a year ago, they delivered 65 million Tweets a day. Today, they generate over 200 million Tweets per day. One year ago, there were approximately 150,000 registered Twitter apps. Now, there are more than one million. Facebook has more than 800 million active users of which more than 50% log on to Facebook in any given day where the average user has 130 friends. Seventy-seven percent of active Internet users read blogs. At the same time specialized media companies, brand development agencies and brands have developed social media applications that allow their users to communicate and at the same time, allow them to track the resulting data.

Editorial and business leaders see value in understanding the emotional tone, influences, attention span and diversity of their various sections and offerings, contributors and readers. Attention and influence, for example, currently directly impact advertising dollar interest in an article. In going digital, media publications have added commentary in the form of opinion blogs by its core of writers as well as ample opportunity for readers to vote and comment. Currently a majority of online media allow readers to express their thoughts and opinions on content through social media commentary. This information can impact advertising sales, decisions on style and relatedness of writers and design and even the kind of influence that different sections, authors or columns may have. Editorial leadership is eager to better manage the means for reader commentary. At the same time it is valuable to understand any underlying patterns that suggest reasons for specific emotional tone. Discovering sentiments, patterns and relationships embedded in articles as well as comments is important for tracking the newspaper’s role in shaping public opinion on contemporary issues and the ways that readers interact with these opinions. It can help media analysts better understand the impact of sentiments on news events. What is more, new tools, on multiple platforms can be developed for media users that allow them to shape their emotional content and respond to others, and chart the influence of their ideas, media patterns and behaviors.

For almost a decade contemporary brands have relied on a growing direct dialogue with their consumer base through social media, and gamification (direct play as a means of polling). These relationships engender loyalty and provide a rich source of data to understand and predict consumer behaviors. Consumer opinion that is expressed in response to new offerings, system breakdowns, or customer service is of critical importance in a world where viral trends erupt quickly with significant impact. Events and opinion outside of an immediate enterprise can have a direct impact in a social media era. Marketing and advertising companies analyze consumer attitudes and relationships to brands for trend analysis and product development. The technology of “predictive analytics” is being fine-tuned by digital media and ICT companies with new offerings such as inferSYTEMS. While the technology of monitoring is becoming more sophisticated, the underlying assumptions of analysis have not changed dramatically for many years, continuing to rely on twentieth century psychology structures. Brands and media analysis companies seek to bring together social media data with data that tracks consumer behaviors – in specific their attention to media, to products and services and their consumption patterns.

In some areas, e.g., healthcare, free-form texts are the most common form of valuable data. These data range from doctor’s notes, descriptions of patient histories, to healthcare-related messages posted by patients on social media such as blogs, bulletin boards, and discussion forums. Such narrative text data contain the most valuable information for physicians to use in their practice and for public and government agencies to make their healthcare-related decisions. Recently, the New York Times reported on a study by MIT researchers, which showed that companies included in their study that adopted data-driven decision-making achieved 5-6% higher productivity than those that did not.

Since data are continuously generated every day in large volumes, the sheer amount of data is too overwhelming for humans to read and analyze manually. Automatic text analysis tools are in great need to discover the hidden information trapped inside the free-form texts. For example, a tool that identifies and analyzes the healthcare-related posts in social media can detect public opinions, activities and preferences in healthcare-related issues.

Understanding consumer opinion of reliability and service quality across an industry like banking can have an impact on a specific company’s quality of service as well as enabling an entire industry to improve. Natural language analysis, data mining and information retrieval are key techniques that can be used to build such text analysis tools.

It is difficult to discern meaning by extracting information piece by piece. We hypothesize that taking a data-driven design approach to visualizing content would make the aggregate meanings more apparent. The advantage of working with this partially processed data is that issues of confidentiality do not arise since any confidential or client information has been abstracted from the media. A second advantage is that research can also focus on visualization and design issues rather than duplicate commercially available linguistic parsing capabilities.

Colourful lines from design piece
Colourful lines from design piece
Colourful lines from design piece
Monday, September 14, 2015 - 3:45pm
Lab Member: 
Dr. Sara Diamond

Dobble Debate, Serious Play

Dobble Debate, Serious Play: an ongoing collaborative card game and research-creation project

Dobble Debate/Serious Play is an educational card game that uses humour and imagination to promote discussion and teach players about dis- and differing abilities.

The project was brought to OCAD University by Nina Czegledy in collaboration with Lynn Hughes of Technoculture, Art and Games (TAG), Concordia University. The project involves OCAD University’s Faculty of Design students and alumni, as well as other researchers at both OCAD and Concordia, in a stimulating, games-based project that has been presented and workshopped extensively.

The goals of the project are to use humour and imagination to look at people’s differing abilities, acquired or genetic ‘disabilities’ as they are traditionally referred to—as potentially conferring an advantage in certain circumstances. The game is played with cards and debate. It is intended to be amusing, leading to laughter as players try to make up winning arguments for why a particular ‘disability’ would be a disaster or a real advantage in any given circumstances. The goal is that players still come away with the feeling that any differing ability might be an advantage at times. Furthermore, because the overall experience of the game is lighthearted and imaginative, players are left associating ‘disabilities’ with a positive feeling. The game requires that players learn about the specifics of differing abilities.

The initial game developed for this project is intended for use in schools with students who do not have direct experience of differing abilities. Following this, the game could be used by people or groups with differing abilities for feedback that would contribute to a new revised game for future outreach. The game promotes, through its iterative and narrative methodology, understanding, cross-fertilization, knowledge mobility and community.

To learn more, please visit

"THIS IS RESEARCH" Poster campaign for the project
Photograph of orange, blue and black "Dobble Debate" game cards
A photograph of the front and back of a Dobble Debate game card
Photograph of Dobble Debate workshop: a table strewn with cards and note-taking supplies
A photograph of the front and back of a Dobble Debate game card
Photograph of a participant handling two Dobble Debate cards in play
Monday, February 25, 2019 - 8:15pm
Lab Member: 
Lynne Heller


Avatar Daughters: Envisioning a Spectrum between the Material/Virtual through Feminist Theory

The hypothesis of this research is that a mother daughter relationship is a metonymy for a human to avatar affinity. This idea is explored through feminist analysis, a lyric essay and the practice of visual arts, specifically a series of comic books featuring an avatar created in Second Life, an online, user-built virtual world. Through a human connection to an avatar, the boundaries of the material and the virtual are blurred and become a seamless spectrum—a space of suspension—which can be infinitely mined but never parsed. The thesis employs both practice-based (visual art) as well as theoretical (art historical and feminist) frameworks, to explore the spectrum of the material/virtual. The corresponding relation- ship, artist/avatar is also a spectrum between self and not self— subject and object at the same time.

An avatar is envisioned by an individual creator but is also the result of a necessary collaboration with the developers of the virtual world where the avatar is digitally materialised, so thus another spectrum between the individual and the collective is delineated. By acknowledging the agency that we often confer on images, and the nature of complex identities, the avatar, though ostensibly insentient, is positioned as an animated, mercurial image that encourages a psychologically complex reaction from humans. In linking the feminist analysis of French philosopher-artist, Luce Irigaray, to an affective reaction towards an animated avatar, an argument for a new perspective on a stubbornly enduring mind/body dichotomy is offered. These ideas are poetically echoed in the included artwork and theorised in the interwoven supporting academic analysis. Art making methods, such as collage/found object, playfulness, and unstable authorship, collectively named in this writing as a methodology of poïesis, are interjected into academic discourse, and literary strategies, and employed in the creative practice to con- struct a holistic approach to art and knowledge production. De- fining the material as the physically present and the virtual as a collective imagining supported by digital materiality, tools and technology, the resulting gamut becomes an inherently fluid, un- stable and contested expanse for which binaries of subject and object, material and virtual, are wholly inadequate. It is a vast, oceanic unknown that supports different ways to dream, from the mundane to the beautiful to the sublime.

Photograph of a pink hardcover edition of Lynne Heller's PhD Thesis
Image of Lynne Heller's avatar, Nar Duell
Image of a spread from Lynne Heller's PHD thesis, including a graphic of her avatar Nar Duell
A grid of of pages from Lynne Heller's PHD thesis which include graphics of her avatar, Nar Duell
Friday, February 5, 2016 - 9:15pm
Lab Member: 
Lynne Heller


This research project investigates the transformation of affect and surface qualities through the process of translating synthetic data into “real” (physical) objects with material qualities. Of particular interest, is a critical examination of what qualities are gained and which are lost as objects move from digital instantiation, on a computer screen, to physicalization as 3D-printed artifacts. Printers come with a resolution of output that is still crude while on screen one can zoom into the data that is normally lost for the human eye, this is a fascinating area of research still underexplored from the practitioner’s point of view.

Rauch has explored digital surfaces and screens with a haptic sculpting pen. A body of corresponding work was produced, physicalized, using rapidform printers. The intention was to explore the aesthetic qualities of the physical material output. Starting with the more obvious material components of the work, (hard plastics, metal, and ceramic shell powder,) and ending with ephemeral materials (resin and the digital works) she is currently mapping and theorizing shifts in materiality that arise through the process of making the digital manifest.

The larger concern of this investigation is to explore how emerging 3D production technologies are affecting creativity and the development of design-production chains. Traditional sculptors have typically developed a keen tacit knowledge and learned experience about material. With the emergence and proliferation of new digital materials, much of the embodied application of tacit knowledge is now being surrendered to software applications and digital tools. This project seeks to understand: (1) how digital media frame (and are responsive to) such things as, creatives’ level of skill, understanding of material behavior, simulate stress and strength of selected materials, etc.; and (2) how a disconnect in knowledge between the use of digital materials and the materialization through physical material might lead to new usages, novel forms, and emergent aesthetics.


Emergent Surfaces Piece 1
Emergent Surfaces Piece 2
Friday, March 9, 2012 - 9:15pm
Lab Member: 
Dr. Barbara Rauch

Fetal Alcohol Visualizing

Working with large sets of intricate and comprehensive data, this research takes a highly interdisciplinary approach to dissecting the discourses that surround fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). Novel correlations across data collected from stakeholder groups, derived using advanced visual analytics tools, help to better inform new strategies for communicating FASD. The interdisciplinary approach to this project grants the researchers with the ability to employ creative methods of study; the design of striking infographics and innovative simulation technologies will serve the production of provocative public performance in an effort to refresh the dialogue on FASD.


Red and green DNA testing visualization
Friday, April 12, 2013 - 3:30pm
Lab Member: 
Paula Gardner
Patricio Davila
Lawrence Kwok
Tim Bettridge
Maggie Chan
Marjan Verstappen
Harjot Bal
Shuting Chang


Over the past decades, we have witnessed massive global migration resulting from regional conflict, environmental disaster, gender-based violence, poverty and economic collapse, immigration law, and more.  Stories of displacement are often told by experts via timelines or spatial maps of movement from place to place.  Time and space based maps, however tend to erase the human dimensions of migration, and make invisible reasons, impacts and the personal.  The Hyper-Migration project offers a terrain of personal texture, in addition to time and space scales, to convey the multi-dimensional realities of migration. For journeys that encompass forced migration, violence and conflict, the path is never so simple as going from A to B.

These journeys are spurred by a politics of boundaries and location that escape linear definition. Displacement has many causes, trauma exists at a scale that exceeds the political, and memory is a nonlinear tangle of associations. The Hyper-Migration project invites users to input their personal stories of migration, according to date and place, but also as personal topographies of displacement, trauma, and memory to testify to these multidimensional realities, building these accounts for themselves and for visitors.

Migrants are positioned in Hyper-Migration to tell their own stories.  They can choose to map their migration paths in time over space, but also to layer in context-- adding video, audio stories, snapshots, and written narratives to provide detail, context, colour, and rich understandings of both “cause” and experience. These maps counter the faceless, homogenizing maps of human displacement that offer simple geographic or time-based explanation.   As they are built, the maps reveal many things: global patterns of movement; common regional conditions that bring displacement; and varied personal experiences of trauma and recovery, roadblocks and resources, moving and resettling.  Users visiting the site are offered a rich landscape of migration through which to navigate, read, and visually comprehend personal stories of displacement, as well as common global paths of migration in context, space and time.

Map with arrow from Africa to North America
Monday, April 27, 2015 - 3:00pm
Lab Member: 
Paula Gardner
Dora Poon
Katherine Meyer
Scott Nason