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Part 1: Public Activations, with Visualization in 2D + 3D, with Immersion and New Media (including Drawing and Photography and Drone Animation)

June 15, 2023 @ 12:00 pm 2:00 pm EDT

Public Activations, with Visualization in 2D + 3D, with Immersion and New Media will address empathy and point-of-view in current social and environmental issues. Emily Pelstring and Jenn Norton (Queen’s) will discuss their collaborative project, After the Witch of Malleghem, and the political implications of using reflexive humor in expanded animation to create alternative spaces of queer-feminist resistance that challenge normative ways of thinking about science. From Dundee, Anthony Head will present his sky animations using drones as points of light for a project with Amnesty International and Greenpeace; Anita Taylor will discuss drawing as a critical means to visualize and map interdisciplinary collaboration. Maria Lantin will present possible ways to build empathy through VR and other technologies; and MA Concordia grad student Jorge Zavagno will present his recent research on documentary ethics.


  • Anita Taylor (Dundee University)
  • Anthony Head (Dundee University)
  • Emily Pelstring (Queen’s University)
  • Jenn Norton (Queen’s University)
  • Maria Lantin (artist and computer scientist)
  • Jorge Zavango  (MA INDI alumni Concordia)

Watch the recorded panel:

Thinking Allowed: Public Activations (Part 1)

Bios and talk description

Anita Taylor (Professor, and Dean, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, University of Dundee) is an artist and curator who will bring her extensive experience through work that contributes to the scholarly infrastructure, knowledge and understanding of drawing within contemporary art. 

Talk Description

Drawing Workshop: I am keen to think about how we document this project in and through drawing as a key means of visualization and would love to develop a series of ‘drawing notebook’ publications.

As a fundamental means to encounter and examine unicate and convey experiences. From childhood drawings to doodles and diagrams or rock drawings across time and cultures, we see an almost ubiquitous need to make an imprint on, and of, the world around us. Drawing is both ancient, current, and elemental; an act, an action, and a critical means to visualize in two and three dimensions, enabling us to see what we are thinking; to understand, communicate, plot, document and navigate our experiences.

Emily Pelstring (Assistant Professor in Film and New Media, Queen’s University) explores the affective dimensions of cinematic apparatus and special effects through media art. Emily’s artistic research comes out of a desire to challenge normative ways of thinking about technological development by bringing antique media into contact with contemporary images. Her work takes interest in the material contingency of the cinematic spectacle, the evolution and cultural perception of various media forms, and the intersections of science and magic. These inquiries have been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Ontario Arts Council, and the results have been exhibited internationally in museums, galleries, DIY spaces, and festivals. She has directed many music videos and short experimental films, specializing in animation techniques for 16mm film and vintage analog video. In addition to her solo work, Emily is engaged in ongoing artistic collaborations with Jessica Mensch and Katherine Kline, her “sister-crones” in the trio The Powers. Their most recent collaboration, Sistership TV, was a web-based variety show that gathered numerous collaborators and guests to explore themes like human-animal communication, telepresence, hysteria, and witchcraft. Emily was also a core organizer of an international symposium called The Witch Institute at Queen’s University, which brought together scholars, artists, and practitioners to explore the meaning and impact of current media representations of the witch.

Jenn E Norton is an artist using time-based media to create immersive, experiential installations that reframe familiar objects, landscapes, and activities as fantastical, dreamlike occurrences.  Using stereoscopic, interactive video, animation, augmented reality, sound, and kinetic sculpture, Norton’s installations explore the blurring boundaries of virtual and physical realms.  Often using video as a starting point within her process, Norton’s imaginative video compositions of disjunctive imagery are bound together in post-production, using a combination of pre-cinema and contemporary display technologies. Norton’s recent animations and augmented reality apps draw upon her interest in the ways in which information is exchanged between animals, plants, and technology. Current areas of research within Norton’s work explore the use of parallel uses of metaphor in physics and art, as a point of conceptual genesis, poetic practice, and communicative device. Recent screenings and exhibitions include her solo show at ELLEPHANT (Montreal), the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, the International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA), Hybrid Art Fair, in Madrid, Spain, where Norton was awarded Best Exhibition, and the online feature of the Art Toronto 2020 fair, which featured Norton’s augmented reality work, Eros’ Kiss, the first AR Commission for a North America art fair. She is currently a PhD candidate in Visual Arts at York University.

Talk Description 

Emily Pelstring and Jenn E Norton (Queen’s) will discuss their collaborative project, After the Witch of Malleghem, an augmented-reality pop-up print which remediates The Witch of Malleghem, a 1559 image by Pieter Brueghel the Elder. Through dramatic re-enactments and re-animations of the figures in this work, we reflect on the visual rhetoric used to de-legitimize healing practices outside of the dominant patriarchal religious/medical establishment.

Anthony Head (Professor at the University of Dundee and Head of Creative Research at Celestial Ltd) is an artist/designer and specialist in coding and 3D computer graphics, engaged with a range of creative technologies. 

Talk Description

From Screen Space to Air Space: The development of drone show animations Anthony Head will present his work creating drone light formations as digital artworks for drone light shows. The research started during the pandemic, in collaboration with startup UK company Celestial Ltd and has continued since.  

The talk will cover the development of his research into methods and techniques for creating drone animations over the last 3 years and how they can be impactful occasions for the public.

Maria Lantin, artist and computer scientist, has directed and built various  media labs, from the Basically Good Media Lab at Emily Carr University of Art + Design and the Banff New Media lab at the Banff Centre. As an artist-researcher, she continues to work in immersive media, with various scales, from  immersive, stereoscopic CAVEs, to large stereoscopic displays, to VR headsets. Her most recent project, at the Art Gallery of Ontario, is Inner Selfie, with Hanif Janmohamed. 

Talk Description

Empathy, impermanence, and porosity Many have spoken of VR’s potential for increasing empathy, even calling it an empathy machine. The aspiration for more empathy is good however the research around empathy gives us some insight into the complexity of this emotion and its resulting actions. Indeed, we as feeling human beings, automatically feel empathy when we witness suffering but how long this feeling lasts and whether it gets suppressed or leads to virtuous action and lasting behaviour change is based on many contextual and learned factors. In short, there is a cost to empathy and designing augmented visual interfaces to surmount this cost is a worthy yet delicate endeavour. On an emotional level, to truly feel the imbalance humans have created in various ecosystems is to be steeped in tremendous loss and grief. If we are to use augmented senses to help with “staying with the trouble” (Haraway), I believe that these should emphasize the impermanence and porosity of our world so that we begin to dissolve boundaries. This talk will look at possible ways of achieving this and the technologies that can get us closer.

Jorge Zavagno (INDI MA Concordia University grad student) Jorge Zavagno has been working as a production and post-production supervisor and technical director of stereoscopic 3D projects and independent documentaries and S3D video art installations for over a decade, and as an assistant editor of IMAX documentaries and. As an INDI MA candidate at Concordia University, Jorge Zavagno has been researching ethical dilemmas in the documentary filmmaking process, using 360 degree and 3D video as an immersive tool to discuss and propose solutions for ethical dilemmas. For his MA INDI thesis, he will be presenting two short films, one on the relationship between documentary film and reality (truth) and the other on the process of creating a documentary while using reflexive tools to approach ethical dilemmas.

Talk Description

Shadows of Reality is part of a project researching ethical dilemmas in documentary filmmaking and examining these elements at different stages of the filmmaking process. The public will be guided through 6 stages of filmmaking by immersing in a 360 Virtual Reality experience capturing idea conception, pre-production, production, post-production, distribution, and consumption. In documentary, the process of seeking and grappling with truth is explored here through shadows. As the viewer has their own reality questioned and changed before them, they are placed themselves at the center of the quest for truth. Viewers take control of the scene to pursue their version of reality and to explore who, or what, is controlling the projections before them.

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