Keynote: From Virtual Reality to Visualization: Reflections on Immersive Media in Canada 1989 – 2005 (Sara Diamond)

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Sunday, June 25th, 2017
CR1D1-17(Room 201)

The Banff Centre began creative exploration in art and virtual environments through the Bioapparatus residency, led by Catherine Richards and Nell Tennhaaf, with its peak explorations during the Art and Virtual Environments program of the early 1990s, then the massive Art and Virtual Environments Project (with the resulting MIT book Immersed in Technology), led by Douglas MacLeod. Brenda Laurel’s work Placeholder which we co-produced with Interval Research was one of the most comprehensive works of that era in the ways that it required embodied cognition. Of all of the artists working in VR in the 1990s Char Davies, a co-founder of SoftImage, (who also frequented Banff) also created physically immersive and beautiful works, including Osmose and Ephemere.

The Banff New Media Institute, founded1995 included summits that considered and debated immersive media. The BNMI halted VR research for a period of time in favor of online 3D online and early AR, hoping for VR technology to catch up with creative aspirations. A CAVE opened in 2002-3 as part of the A.R.T. Labs and focused on data visualization and 3D graphical environments.

This talk will share elements of that early history and provide insights into the conceptual framework of early creative VR and immersive media in Canada.

Sara Diamond
Sara Diamond – President | OCAD University

Dr. Sara Diamond is the President of OCAD University, Canada’s “university of the imagination.” She holds a PhD in Computing, Information Technology and Engineering, a Masters in Media Arts and Honours Bachelors of Arts in History and Communications. She is an appointee of the Order of Ontario and the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts and a recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for service to Canada.

She is the winner of the 2013 GRAND NCE Digital Media Pioneer Award. She founded the Mobile Experience Innovation Centre; was co-principal investigator of the Centre for Information Visualization/Data Driven Design; and is the theme leader for Data Visualization for iCity which focused on Big Data and transportation, is a member of the BRAIN Alliance, in visual analytics. She leads the Visual Analytics Laboratory at OCAD University. She currently serves on the Toronto Regional Board of Trade/City of Toronto Working Group on Smart Cities. She serves on the Executive Committee of the Council of Ontario Universities, the Boards of ORION, Baycrest and the Canadian Centre for Aging & Brain Health.

She has held funding from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council, Canada Foundation for Innovation, MITACS, the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council, Ontario Centres for Excellence and the Canada Council for the Arts. Before her tenure at OCAD University she was Artistic Director and Executive Producer of Media and Visual Art(1992 – 2005), Executive Director of Research and founder of the Banff International Curatorial Institute at The Banff Centre. Diamond is an internationally celebrated data visualization, wearable technology, mobile media researcher, media artist, designer and historian.


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Keynote: From Virtual Reality to Visualization: Reflections on Immersive Media in Canada 1989 – 2005 (Sara Diamond)