Student Profiles

MA Alumni

Hrysovalanti Fereniki Maheras (MA 2020)

photo of Hrysovalanti Fereniki MaherasHrysovalanti Fereniki Maheras is a PhD student in Digital Media at York University and she is studying with Dr. Mark-David Hosale as a researcher at nD::StudioLab. She holds a B.A. Hons in Media Arts from Plymouth University, UK and an M.A. in Digital Media from York University, CA. In her research, she speculates on the innovation of computational machines as emotional beings, as she navigates the connections between the philosophical theories written about the human soul, and the cybernetic theories and artworks created for the exploration of the mind of technology. Her practice emphasizes on the creation of groups of electronic sound/kinetic sculptures that act as artificially living communities. Traversing both virtual and physical worlds, she explores the creation of a virtual analog environment emerging in a shared complex physical habitat.

THUMOS: Synthesis of Artificial Emotions in Interactive Sculptures
Thumos is an artwork made of an array of five free-standing interactive sculptures. The word thumos, or spiritual Eros, is an ancient Greek word used by Plato in his book The Symposium to describe the part of the human soul that translates to the whole of emotions. I am influenced by Plato’s approach to the study of the human soul as an analogy for understanding the mind and desire of the future of the computing machine by preconceiving the rise of mechanical beings, and speculating on what they could be. The process of the creation of the artwork Thumos follows a research-creation methodology that focuses on the attunement of natural and artificial organisms in a digitally modulated physical habitat. In the Thumos habitat, a community of synthetically emotive sculptures negotiate the transference of artificial emotional states through stochastic dialogues. The dialogues unfold in a charged environment, where the simulated desires and thoughts of the sculptures generate light and sound events. My effort has been to incorporate the capacity of humans to entrain their emotions towards positively charged emotional states in an interactive installation that invites people to co-create with the synthetically emotive sculptures the experience of the Thumos installation. It is in this spirit that my work uses a speculative approach to create an alternative eco-systemic framework for art making based on cybernetic theories and philosophy as its basis.

Rory Hoy (MA 2020)

photo of Rory HoyRory Hoy is a PhD student in Digital Media, and a researcher in the DisPerSion Lab at York University. His work is aimed at the crossroads between sonic ecosystems, agent simulation, networked music, and human/machine collaboration. Exploring the musical potential of artificial life systems, his work places performers as equals with virtual beings inspired by natural processes to investigate resulting perceptual and performative outcomes of their interplay. Rory holds both an MA and BA Hons in Digital Media from York University.

Locus Diffuse
Locus Diffuse is a networked multi-user instrument populated by a simulated slime mold and four human players. Mimicking the biological behaviour of slime mould and establishing a virtual living network between player nodes, the system sonifies interaction along these connections. Stigmergy resulting from distributed participant positions and autonomous agent sensing/signalling results in a collaborative sonic environment facilitating the social ritual of musical play. Participants use a browser-based interface to play the multi-user instrument, and access an accompanying stream for audio and visual output of the system. Player responses from various play sessions are explored and reported in relation to emergent narratives, reflections on the sense of self within the established collective, various visual and aural perspectives, characterization of four experienced environmental states, and natural metaphors for behaviour of the system.

Current Students

PhD Students

Nick Fox-Gieg

photo of Nick Fox-GiegNick Fox-Gieg is a researcher, animator, and developer in Toronto. Most recently, he’s been working on XR projects for the Verizon 5G EdTech Challenge, NYT T Brand Studio, the University of Waterloo, Google Creative Lab, and Framestore. His awards include a 2017 Engadget Alternate Realities grant, Eyebeam and Fulbright Fellowships, and the jury prize for Best Animated Short at SXSW 2010; his work has also been shown at the Ottawa, Rotterdam, and TIFF film festivals, at the Centre Pompidou, and on CBC TV. Fox-Gieg holds an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts and a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University.

Lightning Artist Toolkit: Frame-By-Frame Volumetric Animation
The Lightning Artist Toolkit is a complete pipeline that I created for frame-by-frame volumetric animation, as far as I know the only open-source example of its kind. My goal with this project is to make creation in 3D as expressive and intuitive as creation in 2D, retaining the human gesture from its origins in hand-drawn animation on paper. At its core is a machine learning system that transforms live-action volumetric video into a sequence of volumetric brushstrokes; integrated into a traditional animation pipeline, its output should be suitable for the practical production of animated short films.

MA Students

Zhouyang Lu

Zhouyang Lu is a creative, innovative, and passionate Chinese digital media designer also with experience in graphic designing engaging logos, posters, web pages, app UI, brochures, promotional videos, etc. At the same time, it has a good performance in 3d modelling and physical installation art. After he BA in Digital Media at York University, now he in MA in Digital Media has commenced graduate studies focusing on the intersection of Design, interactive technologies and Data visualization. He is currently exploring intersections of visual and print media, and formats of interactive installations.

BREATHE: A COVID-19 Data Visualization Design
The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is indeed one of the most significant pandemics in history. Even though this is an on-going situation, this pandemic offers a wide array of data that might be difficult for ordinary, non-scientific people to understand. This topic is relevant nowadays, and people need to be educated regarding the intensity of this pandemic; this can be done by creating emotions using a data visualization installation. The researcher also finds this topic as a good theme for this research project because it aims to remind people of the first anniversary of this pandemic and how it has spread at a terrible rate.

While this pandemic was surfacing throughout the world, the researcher made numerous designs that visualize the virus and its implications. Hence, choosing this issue as the central theme of this research can gather together differing audiences and opinions. Moreover, the wide range of data about COVID-19 overwhelms people—the main reason why people are still not knowledgeable regarding the dangers of this pandemic, resulting in people preferring to not wear masks and to be disobedient to social distancing guidelines. By applying the concept of data visualization, the large datasets regarding this pandemic can be easily explained and, hence, understood by the general audience.

Janica Olpindo

Janica Olpindo is a queer Filipina artist and researcher who immigrated to Toronto, Canada in 2007. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Integrated Media from OCAD University and is currently continuing her studies at York University's Master of Arts program in Digital Media. Ideas within Olpindo's recent work stem from her interest in mechanical systems within breaking (or "breakdancing") and machines, as well as her interest in human-computer interaction. Olpindo works with electronics, digital media, and installation.

Breaking Barriers: Transforming Breaking Movements and its Culture
This project is focused on increasing the sense of inclusion in the culture and practice of breakdancing. The work will apply interactive machine learning and methods from dance training to this context of “breaking", with the goal of creating “interactive spaces” that invite movements and expressions by participants of diverse gender, sexuality and abilities that might otherwise feel excluded from these performance spaces. The project builds from the intern's personal relationship to the “b-girl” culture in Toronto, and will further provide training in the rigorous use of technological and scholarly methods to affect positive societal change. The project is thus expected to benefit both this particular community, and more broadly provide an example of an inclusive and ethical use of artificial intelligence and machine learning in embodied, communal social spaces.