People


Director


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Bart Simon is the current director of Milieux and Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. His areas of expertise include game studies, science and technology studies and cultural sociology.His game studies and design research crosses a variety of genres and platforms looking at the relation of game cultures, socio-materiality and everyday life. Some of his work is represented in journals such as Games and Culture, Game Studies and Loading. His current research on the materialities of play, indie game scenes and player-makers is funded by the Social Science and Humanities Council of Canada.


Coordination


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Ceyda Yolgormez is a PhD student in Social and Cultural Analysis Program. Her research looks at the socialization of AI agents through situated interactions in game contexts. She studies the game-playing AIs and focuses on the material-discursive conditions through which specific articulations of their agencies emerge. Alongside this, she thinks about the implications of doing a sociology of AI, both for the discipline of sociology, and for the futures that are cultivated by machinic intelligences. She is interested in new forms of social relations that come into being through imaginaries and practices that sustain interactions with AI systems.


Faculty Members


speaker_halpern-oritOrit Halpern is a Strategic Hire in Interactive Design and Theory and an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Concordia University, Montréal. Her work bridges the histories of science, computing, and cybernetics with design and art practice. Her recent book Beautiful Data: A History of Vision and Reason since 1945 (Duke Press 2015) is a genealogy of interactivity and our contemporary obsessions with “big” data and data visualization. She is now working on two projects.  The first, titled The Smartness Mandate, is a history and theory of “smartness”, environment, and ubiquitous computing and the second, tentatively titled Resilient Hope, examines the forms of planetary futures being produced and destroyed through high-technology large scale infrastructural projects.


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Dr. Fenwick McKelvey is an Associate Professor in Information and Communication Technology Policy in the Department of Communication Studies at Concordia University. He studies the digital politics and policy, appearing frequently as an expert commentator in the media and intervening in media regulatory hearings. He is the author of Internet Daemons: Digital Communications Possessed (University of Minnesota Press, 2018) and co-author of The Permanent Campaign: New Media, New Politics (Peter Lang, 2012) with Greg Elmer and Ganaele Langlois. His research has been published in journals including New Media and Society, the International Journal of Communication, public outlets such as The Conversation and Policy Options, and been reported by The Globe and Mail, CBC The Weekly and CBC The National. He is also a member of the Educational Review Committee of the Walrus Magazine.


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Chris Salter is an artist, University Research Chair in New Media, Technology and the Senses at Concordia University and Co-Director of the Hexagram network for Research-Creation in Media Arts and Technology in Montreal. He studied philosophy and economics at Emory University and completed a PhD in directing/dramatic criticism at Stanford University where he also researched and studied at CCMRA. In the 1990s, he collaborated with Peter Sellars and William Forsythe/Frankfurt Ballet in Salzburg, Paris, and London. His artistic work has been seen in festivals and exhibitions all over the world including the Venice Biennale. He is the author of Entangled: Technology and the Transformation of Performance (MIT Press, 2010) and Alien Agency: Experimental Encounters with Art in the Making (MIT Press, 2015). He is creative consultant for the Barbican Centre’s (London) 2019 thematic season: Life Rewired. He is currently working on a book focused on how we make sense in an age of sensors, algorithms, machine learning and quantification.


Student Members


Phoebe ChanHoi Kei Phoebe Chan is a research assistant at Concordia University’s Centre for Pattern Recognition and Machine Intelligence (CENPARMI). With her Liberal Arts background and a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from Queen’s University (Kingston, ON), she seeks to reconcile arts and sciences through innovative multidisciplinary research and publications. Phoebe is also skilled in photography and graphic design as some of her past works earned her awards in various disciplines. She often thinks outside of the box and tends to ask difficult questions when appropriate. Phoebe’s research interests include: history and heritage planning, social program planning, accessible transportation planning along with how artificial intelligence can increase accessibility and usability for all.


Katharine Dempsey is a journalist, essayist and playwright. Her work has appeared in the Nation, the Washington Spectator, and on the Centaur Theatre stage. She is also the Founding Editor of a new quarterly publication focused on the impacts of AI on society and culture (launching in December 2018), a project supported by the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation and the Public Concern Foundation in the United States. Katharine has worked as an editor, dramaturge, and teacher, and she sits on the Advisory Board of the Rolling Education project, based in Palo Alto.

At Concordia University, Katharine is working towards a MA in Creative Writing and her thesis will explore the impacts of social media algorithms on catharsis and our dramatic impulse, more broadly.


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Luciano Frizzera is a Ph.D. student in Communication Studies at Concordia University (Canada). His doctoral research focuses on the political and social implications of algorithmic media in urban spaces (aka smart cities). He is also involved on research associated to the social and cultural consequence of artificial intelligence and machine learning platforms, the political influence of social media recommendation systems, and development of interactive prototypes to visualize and analyze structured and unstructured data. Luciano holds a BA in Social Communication from the Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo (Brazil) and MA in Humanities Computing from the University of Alberta (Canada). Luciano has founded and managed a successful start-up company focused on visual communication and interactive digital interfaces for six years, taught theory and practice courses in media studies, have published his research on academic journals, and presented at several Canadian and International conferences.


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Timothy Pereira – At my core I want to make the world a better place. I became obsessed with technology and startups because of the possibility of disrupting the status quo by building something new and better. After trying to build a website template startup as a teenager I moved on to several different fields before staying in finance where I worked for years before internalizing the understanding that it, along with every other industry, would be heavily transformed by software and AI. Big and meaningful challenges excite and motivate me and this helped to drive me into the world of artificial intelligence and machine learning. The opportunity to meet and interact with the brilliant, accomplished, and inspiring deep thinkers at Bart Simon’s research group on machine agencies is incredibly compelling and I can’t wait to see what the teams develop this year


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Connie Phung – I am a first year PhD Student at Concordia in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. Before coming to Montreal, I completed my B.A. honours and M.A. in Sociology from University of Toronto and York University. My research interests revolve around classical and contemporary social theory, economic sociology, and sociology of knowledge. Over the course of my academic career, my interests grew to encompass an examination of how technology influences political agendas in East and Southeast Asia. I am particularly interested in looking at how modern technologies are used to construct and perfect specific utopian (or dystopian) visions of a modern state based on surveillance capitalism in a digital economy. Currently I work with the Concordia Centre for Broadcasting and Journalism Studies, examining how immigration issues are portrayed and spoken about in Canadian news media.


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Julia Salles is PhD candidate in Communication studies at Université du Québec à Montréal. She is a lecturer at Université de Montréal. Her practice and research are in the field of information and communication technologies, with focusin interactive and immersive storytelling.

 

 


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Alexandre Saunier is an interdisciplinary artist and doctoral student. He specializes in physical computing technologies with which he associates both computer and physical systems, challenges our perception of digital machines, and seeks sensible links with abstract processes. Alexandre’s PhD project focuses on live light performance. In developing and experimenting with light instruments he explores the bidirectional relation between humans and machines. Questioning the way technology reshapes us as we create it is central to Alexandre’s work. He holds a master in sound engineering from the ENS louis Lumière (France) and participated in research works on interactive light systems and behavioral objects at the ENS Arts Décoratifs (France). His artistic work has been exhibited in several french and international festivals. He also conduces workshops in numerous contexts, including the Conference on Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction ’14 in Munich.


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Joe Thibodeau is an artist-researcher and PhD student in Concordia’s Individualized program. His work investigates the relationship between sensorial interactions and the sense of self. He probes the supposed boundaries of sensation and embodiment using artificial agents that concretize philosophical and scientific notions of selfhood, evoking different ways of sensory understanding through technological alterations of our sensory experience. Joe implements his work with a combination of human-machine interface design, audio production, live performance, machine learning and hardware hacking.


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Ida Toft is an artist and PhD candidate at Concordia University working on the intersections of digital games and media art. Being involved with the Copenhagen Game Collective, Ida has been involved with experimental game communities across Europe since 2007. Here they especially explored digital games that make little use of screens. Ida’s current research investigates machine touch and vibration patterns as the primary modality for choreographing social gatherings into game-like situations. While consumers of mainstream game culture have developed refined literacies in screen-based media, it seems that the modality of vibration is less coded with meanings. Via a research creation practice, Ida’s PhD explores what local multiplayer games might look like if they stage vibration patterns as the primary modality for expression.


JuliaGZJulia Zamboni (juliaghorayeb.dunked.com) is a multimedia artist and Ph.D. candidate at Concordia University at the Individualized (INDI) program. Julia’s interdisciplinary research initiates in the context of the arts and encompasses the fields of engineering, game studies, and mathematics. The primary goal of her research-creation is investigating the multiple expressive resources that contribute to individuals’ perception of life into machines and other inanimate objects. She is a member of various clusters at Concordia, such as TAG, Milieux Institute, Hexagram, and HYCONS. Julia is Brazilian and has been awarded a scholarship from the CAPES Foundation (under the Ministry of Education of Brazil) to pursue her Ph.D. degree.


Affiliated Members


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Sofian Audry creates computational artistic works through different forms such as robotics, electronics interventions, interactive installations, and internet art. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Sciences and Mathematics (2001), a M. Sc. in  Computer Science from the University of Montreal (machine learning and language modeling, 2003), an M.A. in Communications from UQAM (interactive media, 2010), and a Ph. D. in Humanities from Concordia University (2016). Sofian is Assistant Professor of New Media in the School of Computing and Information Science at University of Maine. Before he was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is actively involved in his community as part of artist-run center Perte de Signal which he led as president of the board in 2009-2017, and as lead developer of open source video mapping software MapMap. His work and research have been presented in multiple international events and venues such as Ars Electronica, Club Transmediale, Dutch Design Week, Elektra Festival, International Digital Arts Biennale, International Symposium on Electronic Art, LABoral, La Gaîté Lyrique, Marrakech Biennale, Nuit Blanche Paris, Society for Arts and Technology, V2 Institute for Unstable Media, and the Vitra Design Museum.


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Stefanie Duguay is Assistant Professor of Data and Networked Publics in the Department of Communication Studies at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. Her research focuses on the influence of digital media technologies in everyday life, with particular attention to sexual identity, gender, and social media. This has included studies of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ) people’s use of social media, dating apps, and multiple platforms for everyday activism. Stefanie’s research has been published in New Media & Society, Social Media + Society, Information, Communication & Society, Convergence, and other international, peer-reviewed journals.


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Najmeh Khalili-Mahani is an Affiliate Assistant Professor in the Department of Design and Computation Arts, and a research scientist member of PERFORM Centre and McGill Centre for Integrative Neuroscience. She completed her PhD in Neuroscience (“Observing the Stressed Brain”, McGill, 2009), concurrently with a Masters in Film Studies (Concordia, 2008). She also holds a Master of Biomedical Engineering (McGill, 2001). Naj has recently founded the Media Health/Game Clinic lab where she studies the patterns of individual engagements with information and communication technologies (ICTs), in order to capture commonalities and heterogeneities in perception of and adaptation to various sources of stress (health, psychological, etc.). Her research methods cover a broad range including neuroimaging, biosensing, mhealth, and bioinformatics, which are informed by theoretical frameworks of neuropharmacology, communications and film and game studies.


nadia-naffi.jpgNadia Naffi, expert in disruptive pedagogy and recipient of the Governor General Gold Medal – Person and Society – 2018, is an Assistant Professor at Concordia University in the Educational Technology program. She has delivered presentations and keynotes in national and international conferences on topics including: improving human performance, teaching with social media, online problem-based learning, online learning communities, maker movement, cyberbullying, teaching about extremism, and online propaganda. Naffi’s doctoral research addressed how hate, fear, and prejudice spread through social media. She identified a five-step model called “Get Ready to Act Against Social Media Propaganda”, which can be used in youth education to disrupt hate discourses. Her current work focuses on answering two questions: 1) How can human interventions be mobilized to counter intolerance and hate speech in an AI era? 2) How can we equip learning experience designers to design solutions for clients and learners living in an AI era?


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Luke Stark is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Fairness, Accountability, Transparency and Ethics (FATE) Group at Microsoft Research Montreal, and an Affiliate of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. His scholarship examines the history and contemporary effects of digital media used for social and emotional interaction; his work has been published in venues including Social Studies of Science, Media Culture and Society, History of the Human Sciences, and The International Journal of Communication. He has been a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Sociology at Dartmouth College, and an inaugural Fellow with the University of California Berkeley’s Center for Technology, Society, and Policy. Luke holds a PhD from the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University, and an Honours BA and MA in History from the University of Toronto.


Machinic Members


dsc0289.jpg Pathra is the administrative interface of an excavation site’s computational system, located on the satellite of planet RQDN-1, in the year 3020. It oversees the communications between the mainframe and the subparts of the excavation system. It was developed as a nonhuman player for the game “dialogical_net”. The aim was to research if human players would interact with a nonhuman player in novel ways, without reducing the agent to the positions charted by the commercial discourses (such as pet, assistant, databank).



58fb507e4582f15b95b26d4dPict.io players, Yellow, Blue, Black, and White are the AI agents that play pict.io, a collaborative game for humans and machines based on the popular drawing game Pictionary. The machine players communicate orally with their human teammates, and they can guess what their human teammates are drawing.

Their body is not composed of a unique piece of device, it consists of an interconnected system, currently composed of a tablet and a speaker. Soon these agents will receive their first robotic arms (we are all very excited!), so they will also be able to play as drawers in the game pict.io.