The DisPerSion 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 engages 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 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.

This research work is supported by Principle Investigator Doug Van Nort’s Research Project Funding, including the Canada Research Chairs Program, SSHRC Insight, Knowledge Synthesis and Partnership Engage Grants, Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), Ontario Early Researcher Award, Ontario Research Fund (ORF) and Lassonde Innovation Fund among others.

Current lab research-creation centres around three Research Areas. Within each are 2-4 distinct Research Projects, which each have a number of “Sub-Projects” – specific experiments, designs, studies, pieces, events created by Van Nort in collaboration with Graduate Research Assistants, which contribute to the broader goals of the given Project – and which often sit at the intersection of more than one Research Project.  The three overarching Research Areas are: