DisPerSion Lab

Founded in 2015 by Doug Van Nort, the DIStributed PERformance and Sensorial immersION Lab is dedicated to research-creation work at the intersection of digitally-mediated performance, electroacoustic and computer music, sonic arts, improvisation and computational creativity.  The lab focus emerges from Van Nort’s 20 years of scholarly and creative engagement with questions surrounding distributed agency and sensorial immersion in both structured and improvised performance contexts. Moving beyond design and development, this work injects computational boundary objects into performance, examining the shifting relationship to notions such as “instrument”, “agent”, “gesture”, “composition” or “venue” in digitally-mediated performance, approaching these as conditions to explore the myriad ways that performers negotiate emergent, collective meaning outside of spoken language.
The physical lab space has been designed to support this work, and includes systems developed by Van Nort and team for ambisonic spatialization, a novel large-scale multi-channel haptic floor, interactive lighting, and biosensing. The lab focuses on uncovering new modes of creative expression and their broader critical implications that emerge from new computational technologies such as AI and machine learning, rather than simply using them to ornament existing musical practices. For this reason, the lab’s research-creation approach begins from the perspective of primary creators using these technologies in novel ways, rather than developers/designers working in support of another artists’ needs. As such, the lab culture emphasizes the importance of practice-led work and phenomenological investigations as a starting point for arriving at research questions, including improvised inquiry and exploration of distributed creativity through ensemble music and movement-based performance practices, in addition to design and development of interactive systems.
Current lab research-creation centres around three areas:
-Human/Machine Co-Creation in Collective Performance Contexts, from Instruments to Agents
-Expanded Senses of “Presence” in Distributed Performance
-Embodied Awareness, Biophysical Sensing/Feedback and Deep Listening/Sounding Practices 
Prospective graduate students who are interested in working with Van Nort in these areas are encouraged to get in touch.