Concordia University

Leila Sujir

Associate Professor, and Chair, Intermedia (Video, Performance and Electronic Arts), Studio Arts

Office: S-EV 6821 
Engineering, Computer Science and Visual Arts Integrated Complex,
1515 St. Catherine W.
Phone: (514) 848-2424 ext. 4681

Leila Sujir is an artist and a professor at Concordia University in the Intermedia undergraduate area and graduate program of the Studio Arts Department. She is working on two new video projections, one based on the forests near Port Renfrew on the west coast of Canada, Forest!,  a video installation incorporating drawing and performance, for the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, and a 3D large format video projection. She is also developing a new architectural video projection that will be exhibited in England in 2018. She is the principal investigator of a three year SSHRC grant, Elastic 3D Spaces:  Bodies and Belonging (2016-2019).

In 2005 through 2006, she was a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the University of Calgary, a one year research position as an artist in the Interactions Lab in the Department of Computer Science. Starting in 2011, she has been working with Montreal-based Janro's Sandde 3D drawing tool, as the lead researcher on two grants investigating its potential as a performance, drawing, and sculptural tool (CINQ/Mitacs). She was an artist in residence at the Bath School of Art at Bath Spa University in the UK (2014-2015) where she developed a new interactive stereoscopic video projection onto a building facade, Elastic City Spacey (January 2015). She has also been an artist in residence at the Sydney College of the Arts at the University of Sydney, Australia (June 2013) where she also presented at the International Society for Electronic Arts (ISEA), and an artist in residence at the National Art School in Sydney, Australia (July 2012), as well as at the Banff Centre (Fall 2013 and Winter 2014).

Sujir’s video works have been shown in group shows at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Tate Gallery in Liverpool, U.K. as well as galleries and festivals all over the world. New Republics, a group exhibition out of the U.K. toured Canada and Australia 1999-2000 (in Australia to Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts; University of South Australia Art Museum, Adelaide; Canberra School of Art, Canberra; Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne; in Canada to Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton; and beginning in the U.K. at Canada House, London). A solo exhibition that has toured galleries in Canada, Luminous Stories, initiated by the Art Gallery of Peterborough, covered ten years of her video production touring to ASpace, Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Southern Art Gallery and University of Lethbridge  Art Gallery.

Her video work, The Dreams of the Night Cleaners (1995), a co-production with the Banff Centre was part of the exhibition 90 x 90 at the Art Gallery of Alberta (May - October 2014).Tulipomania: an Electronic Trade Fable (2006, with Maria Lantin), an interactive stereoscopic 3D video projection, also a Banff Centre co-production, was exhibited at the Nickle Arts Museum September - December 2014, presented in a group exhibition at the University of Wollongong (June 2013) and Art Gallery of Windsor (January-March 2013) and is part of two recent books published in 2016. Chorus of Lungs (2013, with Maria Lantin), a 2 channel interactive stereoscopic video projection, premiered at Centre A Gallery in Vancouver (November 2013-January 2014), funded by a SSHRC grant and supported by a Banff Centre residency. My Two Grandmothers (1991), a multi-channel video installation with a switcher moving the 4 channels through the space, was part of a group exhibition, at the Glenbow Art Gallery (February - May 2014) and part of a recently published book (2016).

Areas of expertise

Intermedia, Video Art, Performative Video

Teaching activities

Graduate area
MFA Program Studio Arts: Intermedia Studio, Independent Study, Internships
INDI Program, MA:  Studio Arts (Intermedia Practices)
PhD program: Studio Arts (Intermedia Practices)

Research activities

Forest Breath, 2016-2018

Stereoscopic 3D Video (S3D) installation, 10 minutes

Group Exhibition, Supernatural: Art, Technology and the Forest, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (May 19 - September 2018), Victoria, British Columbia.

Forest Breath is a vertical slice of 8k stereoscopic 3D video of the forest. Shot in June 2016, the video records particular moments in the forests around Port Renfrew, primarily in the south Walbran, near Emerald Pool, as well as in the Red Creek Fir area in the traditional territories of the Pacheedaht people. 

The resolution of the video allows viewers to stand in a forest of moving pixels. The video space has volume, a blur of colors, as it moves from one space of the forest to another. The space of the video, like the space of the forest, becomes a site of contemplation and research.

The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria in the city of Victoria contains spaces of forests. With the support of the gallery, I have placed the forest here, in the wall of one of the galleries. It is an archive of the time and space in June 2016 when I did a preliminary shoot for the project, Forest Breath

Closeby to Victoria, along the coast, is Port Renfrew, surrounded by old growth forests; the town, I am being told and have observed, is reinventing itself, no longer depending on what was formerly a resource based economy.

These forests drew me as a space of research and a space of healing

These west coast forests are where my mother took me as a young twenty four year old, after a serious operation for cancer. I didn’t die, to my surprise. The forest was where I found wonder and learned how to be alive again. 

My aunt Manorama Savur’s last major research project* which she talked extensively to me about was on the destruction of the bamboo forests of India and the resulting desertification as a result of the deforestation, two words which were and still are mysterious to me. 

When I started the Forest Breath project, in June 2016, a  year  had almost passed since my mother had passed away, on my birthday, June 19; as a way of anticipating that strange collision, the  anniversary of her death and my birthday, I started this project in the forest.

*Manorama Savur, And the Bamboo Forests in the Indian Forests: What did the Pulp and Paper Industry do? Manohar Publishers, 2003.

Peacocks Dream, 2018 (from the series, Elastic City Spacey)

Video projection for exterior facade and indoor installation, 15 minutes 49 seconds
FotoFest Biennial: India — Contemporary Photography and New Media Art (March 10– April 22, 2018), Houston, Texas, USA   

This new video moves back into the Sujir family archive—where a dream of hope is lost amidst disorientation, in my grandfather Ramananth Sujir’s letters to his son Raghu Sujir, my father. “Dis-orient” –to lose east –became my father’s story, a pilot who lost his direction in life, who died young, in his mid thirties, in a plane crash in Canada. I am able to tell his story now, that I am fully an adult, no longer afraid that my father’s story will become mine when I take a risk: his journeys placed him in precarious 
positions, too far away from home.

Peacocks Dream is an exploration of the disorientation and loss of those left behind: the story is told through a garden of mazes, evoking the dizziness and disorientation that grief produces. I am able to imagine now, as an adult, my grandmother, Ratna Sujir’s loss, when her two sons died, my father far away in Canada, so far away from ‘home’, Mangalore, India. The movement of the peacocks through the landscape invites the viewers to move into the stereoscopic 3D of the video work, to experience the dizzying space of her story.

Elastic City Spacey

stereoscopic 3D mapped video projection onto exterior building facade of Roman Baths entrance, Bath, U.K. (22 minute cycle)

January 3-10, 2015, Illuminate Bath, U.K.

Elastic City Spacey is the first iteration in a series of projections that collages live video and drawings of peacocks from Corsham Court at the Bath School of Art's graduate campus; Roman coins (32 BC - 274 AD) with peacocks, excavated in the Beau Street Horde in 2007; and an 18C Indian painting of a figure riding a white peacock. Elastic City Spacey continues the experiments in 3D stereoscopic projection Sujir has been doing with S3D interactive video projections over the last ten years, this time using projection mapping onto a building, mixing the actual physical 3D of the building's architecture with the 3D virtual drawing and 3D virtual sculpting.

Over the last thirty years, Sujir has been building a body of video installation artwork exploring immigration, migration, nation and culture with digs into archival documents, using a mix of fiction, fantasy and documentary with visual and audio collage techniques. Within the space of the screen, she has found ways to create virtual imaginative and fantastic spaces. With 3D stereoscopic works, she can bring the viewer into the frame, allowing them to walk into another world. Migration brings with it a doubled sense of place, with the physicality of home and its absence playing off the containment of memory in our bodies that makes us resonant spaces. In her art practice, she has been working towards the construction of a felt space of displacement. 3D stereo video spaces are elastic and dream-like places, ephemeral, yet capable of extending a sensation of volume, physicality, and presence to the viewer. The challenge of taking this 3D stereoscopic work into the 'streets' in Bath, to inhabit public dwelling spaces rather than a black box, extends the art practice she has been developing and allow her to further stretch the technology and the materials towards a new body of work.

Elastic City Spacey at the Roman Baths from tuliptheory on Vimeo.

Elastic S3D Spaces workshop, October 3, 2015


Research Activities


Published proceedings, book chapters and contributions to a collective work

-Sujir,Leila, with Anthony Head, " Exploring art, technology, research methodologies and the human in virtual, augmented and mixed realities or: how aresearch project, Elastic 3D Spaces, emerged from an outdoor projection event,”for a new book project in conjunction with the conference, Besides the Screen, University of Coventry, upcoming, OxfordUniversity Press. 

-Sujir,Leila, with Maria Lantin, "Resonating Liveness," paper for ExploringHCI's Relationship with Liveness Workshop, Computer Human Interactionsconference (CHI),  Austin, Texas, 2012.

Other contributions: Presentations as GuestSpeaker for Conferences and Workshops

-Presentation with Anthony Head at the symposium, Elastic Spaces 3rdInternational Symposium at the Bath School of Art, Bath, England, October 2017.

-Presentation of work in progress, Forest!,International Visual Literacy Association Conference, Concordia University,Montreal, 2016.

-Presenter with Charalambos Poullis, Entertainment Technology Summit,China Canada International Film Festival, Concordia University, Montreal,  2016.

-Presentation with Michael McGuffin, Mat'Inno series, Quartier de l'innovationand Printemps Numérique,  Montreal,Montreal, 2016.

-Presentation withAnthony Head, "Elastic 3D Space," Besidesthe Screen, Coventry, UK, 2016.

-Presentation,"Time Travel in Virtual Elastic Spaces, Augmented & Future Realities:an exploration of the spatialization of narrative," Elastic 3D Spacecolloquium, Concordia University, 2016.

-Presentation with David Seitz,"3D Drawing and the Body as Interface: Learning to Fly," Bath School of Art and Design, Bath, U.K., 2013.

-Presentation with Anna Hawkins, Zoe Bacchus, andAudrey Maude McDuff, 3D Stereoscopic Drawing, Sydney College of the Arts, with, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia, 2013.

-Presentation with Anna Hawkins, Zoe Bacchus, andAudrey Maude McDuff  "ArtisticPotentials of 3D Stereoscopic Technologies," International Symposium forElectronic Art (ISEA), Sydney, Australia 2013.

-Presentation, "The Flying Carpet Interface:Moving Through  Cultural Time and Space," Inter-Sensorial ThreadsConference, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia, 2013.

-Presentation with David Seitz, "Learning to Fly:Sandde 3D Five Day Process based Workshop," International Association ofIndependent Art and Design Schools Conference, Re: Imagine, Drawing in Dialogue – Narrative, Interpretation andStorytelling, "National Art School, Sydney, Australia, 2012.

-Presentation, "Resonances of Home in 3DVideo Spaces: Spatial Narratives of Displacement," Conference Presentationfor Together <> Apart Conference, Art Association of  Australia andNew  Zealand (AAANZ), University of Sydney,  Sydney, Australia, 2012.


Published Writing/Reviews on Sujir's artwork

*Gupta, Sunil, curator, FotoFestInternational 2018 Biennial: INDIA- Contemporary Photographic and New Media Art, (Houston, Texas and Amsterdam,Netherlands: Fotofest and Schilt Publishing) [Peacocks Dream], 2018.

*Srimoyee Mitra (ed), Border Cultures, London, UK: Black Dog Publishing/Art Gallery ofWindsor, [Tulipomania], 2016. 

*Melanie Kjorlien (ed), Made in Calgary: An Exploration of Art from 1960 to the 2000's:Calgary, Alberta: Glenbow, [Tulipomania and My Two Grandmothers], 2016.

*Michelle Jacques, "Chorus of Lungs,"Centre A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, November 2013.

*Srimoyee Mitra,"On Border Cultures," Scapegoat:Architecture /Landscape/    Political Economy, Summer / Autumn 2013, pages212-217 ["Chorus of Lungs"].


Public Talks and Presentations

-Artist Talk, "FotoFest International 2018 BiennialINDIA - Contemporary Photographic and New Media Art,"Houston, Texas, USA, 2018.

-Presentation of work in progress, Forest, Hexagram UQAM Open House, Montreal, 2016.

-Development / presentation of a four day international Research Workshop Colloquium, Elastic 3D Space, Concordia University, 2016.

-Development / presentation of a two day international Research Workshop Exchange, Elastic 3D Space, Concordia University, 2015.

-Artist Presentation at Round Table for launch of Border Cultures, Artexte, Montreal, 2016.

-Artist Presentation, Bath School of Art and Design, Bath, U.K., 2013.

-Participation in a panel, "How Can Collaboration between the Arts, Sciences, and Engineering Be Enhanced," Hexagram & the Phi Centre,  Montreal, Quebec, 2013.

-Panel presentation,"Border Talk," in conjunction with Border Cultures exhibition, Art Gallery of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario, 2013.

Creative Outputs: Art Projects

-2016 - 2019, in progress, stereoscopic 3D projection work in progress, Forest!, commissioned for a series of large screen artistic experiments by curator Janine Marchessault; the project uses large format 3D production (rig of two 8k cameras).

-2016 - 2019, Forest Breath, in progress, installation for a solo exhibition at the Art Gallery of GreaterVictoria by curator Haema Sivanesan; the work is in an experimental research stage, with stereoscopic drawing and other processes.

-2015 Elastic City Spacey, stereoscopic 3D architectural projection, commissioned for the Bath School of Art and Design, Illuminate 2015, Bath, U.K.

-2013 Chorus of Lungs, 2 Channel Interactive 3D stereoscopic Video Projection with Fabric Drawing Scrim for Centre A Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia.


Solo Exhibitions

2019    -Upcoming, Art Galleryof Greater Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia.

2013    -Chorus of Lungs, Centre A Gallery for Contemporary Asian Art, Vancouver, British Columbia (November – January 2014).

Solo Screening

2017    -For Jackson: A Time Capsule from his two grandmothers, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria,  Victoria, British Columbia (February).

Group Exhibitions

2019   -upcoming, "XL Celebrating the Canadian History of Imax," at The Cinesphere, Ontario Place, Toronto (September). 

2018   -"FotoFest International 2018 BiennialINDIA - Contemporary Photographic and New Media Art,"  Houston, Texas, USA (March 10 - April 22) [Peacocks Dream].

            -"Supernatural: Art, Technology and the Forest," Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Victoria , British Columbia (May 19- September 3) [Forest Breath].

2015   -"Illuminate 2015," Bath, U.K. (January 3-10) [Elastic City Spacey].

2014    -"Made in Calgary, the 2000's," Nickle Galleries, Calgary, Alberta                            (September 19- December13) [Tulipomania].

            -"90 by 90,"Art Gallery of Alberta,  Edmonton, Alberta (May 17 -                          September 17) [The Dreams of the Night Cleaners].

            -"Made in Calgary: the 1990's," Glenbow Museum (February – April) [My             Two Grandmothers].

2013    -"Inter-sensorial Threads," University of Wollongong, Australia (June 4 -                14th) [Tulipomania].

            -"Border Cultures: Part One (homes,land)," Art Gallery of Windsor,                          (January 25 – March 31) [Tulipomania].

2012    -"The Distance Between: Stereoscopic Work by Women," Studio XX,                Montreal, Quebec (May 17- June 5) [Iteration of Chorus Of Lungs].

            -"Downstream: Reimagining Water," Emily Carr University of Art              Design,"  Vancouver,  British Columbia (March) [Iteration of Chorus of              Lungs].

Participation activities

Blog post from the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria on screening of "For Jackson"


New Republics

The traveling exhibition "New Republics," with artists from Canada, South Africa and Australia, initiated in the U.K. by curator Sunil Gupta for OVA [For Leila Sujir, the video, The Dreams of the Night Cleaners, 1995]       


Works in Artpad, from the Glenbow Museum collection[For Leila Sujir, the video, The Dreams of the Night Cleaners, 1995].

The Dreams of the Night Cleaners

* The Dreams of the Night Cleaners (excerpt), 1995.

Video, 46 minutes, Betacam SP. Collections: The Glenbow Museum and Archives, and the National Gallery of Canada.

A road trip, a journey, a voyage through history and memory. A complex weave of drama, archival footage and animation in a fable format to explore the public mythologies in our culture which have had devastating effects on public policy, public attitudes and individual lives. "Dreams" uses storytelling, humour, magic and history to sweep away the misconceptions which haunt the lives of its characters.

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