Avatar Lives: Developing Collaborations in Art, Technology, and Science

An Ontario College of Art and Design University, Toronto and University of Wolverhampton, UK Collaboration


Avatar Lives: Developing Collaborations in Art, Technology, and Science is a scholarly and research-creation based initiative, taking place in the spring of 2016, that will include a Roundtable, an Exhibition and accompanying print and digital publications. Avatar Lives is envisioned to explore the relationship between the physical and digital embodiment through developing/designing avatars with a focus on identity and gender, using both contemporary and historic paradigms, and state-of-the-art digital platforms for building and analysing these evolving subjectivities. The project will be hosted by OCAD University and supported by collaborators at the University of Wolverhampton, UK; Polytechnic of Viseu, Portugal; the Digital Dramaturgy Lab at the University of Toronto, macGRID based at McMaster University and Digifest 2016, Toronto. 

The aims of the project are:

(1) To explore the notion of the digital embodiment through a series of research paradigms that address the material, physical and virtual tensions that emerge from the creation and experience of the virtual body and the digital self;

(2) To experiment with inter and cross disciplinary methods in order to review concepts of gender and identity and its construction;

(3) To investigate how creative collaborative practices and methodological processes develop through
technological platforms such as virtual worlds and to consider how they can be applied to other fields
of research and practice.

Research Questions

(1) What do contemporary paradigms in feminism, gender and science studies bring to our understanding of the avatar as a digital form of the self? What novel insights can biomedical concepts bring when considering the avatar form?

(2) How can emerging forms of collaborative art practice in virtual worlds inform the construction of the self? How can they be applied to or inform other fields of research?

(3) At what point can digital creations be considered to have a life of their own?


This proposed collaboration with the Centre for Art and Design Research and Experimentation (UK) will see visiting Professor, Dr Denise Doyle and associate Professor and artist Lynne Heller working together and alongside an international team from the UK, Portugal, Norway, and Canada from the diverse fields of Digital Arts, Gender Studies, Contemporary Arts Practice, Bio-Medicine, Digital Fabrication, Science Studies, and Virtual Worlds.

Illustration of 3 people in an empty room
Digital image of a person standing in front of a street vendor cart.
Silhouetted woman standing on a table in a computer lab.
Thursday, August 13, 2015 - 8:15pm
Lab Member: 
Denise Doyle