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Exploring Elastic 3D Spaces: Bodies and Belonging


A SSHRC Partnership Development Project which emerged from the ongoing collaborations of researchers in stereoscopic 3D virtual spaces, working across an international network.

The proposed 3-year research project (2016-2019) builds on artist and lead investigator’s Leila Sujir’s established research-creation practice, which in the last decade has evoked bodily-felt experience of displacement through stereoscopic 3D (S3D) spaces. These are dreamlike and ephemeral, yet capable of offering a sensation of volume, physicality, and presence to the viewer: they move as the viewer moves, giving a sense of space as ‘elastic.’

As conceived here, S3D elastic spaces are sites for viewers to explore other worlds: the virtual space becomes place – paradoxically, where one can experience displacement and empathy – in an innovative, evocative transformation not achieved in conventional virtual space paradigms.

The partnership team’s innovative approach takes the investigation of virtual reality out of the more familiar VR headset or electronic CAVE and into the public street and built environment, and further, proposes that the visitors not be seated/stationary but mobile – approaches that are currently of great industry interest.

Exploring Elastic 3D Spaces: Bodies and Belonging will develop a linked cycle of site-specific artworks that explore urgent global questions of migration, displacement, belonging and empathy, using the immersive potential of stereoscopic 3D (S3D) space. Merging old and new technologies in a custom-built, innovative way, and taking up stories embedded in public policies and places, the art works will use projections onto public structures and within gallery spaces to explore mythologies of belonging. More broadly, the artworks consider how subjectivity, body and cognition are affected by engagement with 3D stereoscopic technologies. Stereoscopy refers to a method of viewing or displaying stereographic images that creates or enhances the illusion of depth and volume. Despite its 150-year history and recent commercial revival, stereoscopy’s potential for creating fictional 3D worlds is just now being fully explored by artists.

The partners and collaborators are guided by a shared an over-arching research focus: we explore how, in the future, when techniques such as 3D stereoscopy mean that everyone can see in a computer-enhanced way, our new sensory capabilities may affect people’s engagement with the places and people around them, our senses of belonging, connection and agency, our creative expression through art-making.

Together, the partners aim to create 10 new projects (performative and publication) to be displayed and disseminated in 10 venues worldwide, reaching a wide gamut of audiences; develop ground-breaking new technologies for stereoscopic 3D creation; engage and train 8 student research assistants; and confer and brainstorm at a second-year Summit – developing professional relationships and creative technologies that will be the basis of further collaborations and partnerships.

The project is building on previous funding successes by the key researchers including a SSHRC Research Creation grant (2009-2013), along with CINQ funding (2011-2013) from the Quebec government and MITACS for an industry partnership with Janro Imaging. Following these, the researchers worked together on the Arts Council England funded Illuminate 2015 event in Bath, UK, an outdoor projection festival that allowed for an experimental approach to immersive 3D in a public space.

On October 3rd – 4th, 2015 the first Elastic 3D Space international symposium took place, drawing together the themes within the project, and following a successful Social Sciences Humanities Research Connections grant (January 2016), an international colloquium and workshop event was held at Concordia University in February 24-27, 2016. A number of projects are now forming as a result of the growing collaboration which is funded by a three year SSHRC Partnership Development Grant, 2016-2019.

The Elastic Spaces team consists of lead investigator Leila Sujir (Studio Arts, Concordia University), Anthony Head (Bath School of Art and Design, Bath Spa University, UK), Charalambos Poullis and Sudhir Mudur (Computer Science and Software Engineering, Concordia University), Haema Sivanesan (the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria), and Paul Landon (the Université du Québec à Montréal), along with industry partners Chris Kroitor (True Frame) and Paul Kroitor (Janro Imaging). Research associates are Zoe Bacchus and Santiago Tavera, who is managing the research group; research assistants include Andreann Cossette-Viau, Hadi Jamali and Oslavi Linares; the MFA graduate researchers include Daniela Ortiz Sanchez Renero and Francisco González Rosas.

Elastic Spaces is also affiliated with the National Film Board of Canada (Munro Ferguson), Emily Carr University of Art + Design (Maria Lantin), and the Banff Centre (Kenny Lozowski).

Project organizers: 

Leila Sujir
Santiago Tavera

Related links: 

Hexagram

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