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RUBIX 2023

Thursday, January 26 2023

RUBIX is an annual exhibition, symposium, and showcase event that celebrates the scholarly, research, and creative (SRC) activities within The Creative School at Toronto Metropolitan University. Every year, RUBIX brings together brilliant minds from across the fields of media, design, and creative industries to explore, innovate, and impact the world we live in.

This year, RUBIX will be fully in person, with events happening throughout the day from 1pm-7:30pm.

The Program

Opening Remarks


Location: The Catalyst

  • Natalie Álvarez | Associate Dean, Scholarly Research and Creative Activities
  • Michael Doxtater | Director, Saagajiwe and Associate Professor, Creative Industries & Image Arts
  • Mohamed Lachemi | President & Vice-Chancellor
  • Steven Liss | Vice-President, Research and Innovation
  • Charles Falzon | Dean, The Creative School


Keynote Speaker: Natalie Loveless


Location: The Catalyst

Introduction by Layal Shuman, Assistant Professor, Design Studies, GCM, and Francisco-Fernando Granados, PhD Candidate, Media & Design Innovation

Natalie Loveless is Professor of Contemporary Art and Theory in the Department of Art & Design at the University of Alberta, located in ᐊᒥᐢᑿᒌᐚᐢᑲᐦᐃᑲᐣ (Amiskwacîwâskahikan) on Treaty Six territory, where she also directs the Research-Creation and Social Justice CoLABoratory. She is the author of How to Make Art at the End of the World: A Manifesto for Research-Creation (Duke UP 2019), editor of Knowings and Knots: Methodologies and Ecologies in Research-Creation (University of Alberta Press 2019), and co-editor of Responding to Site: The Performance Work of Marilyn Arsem (Intellect Press 2020).


Installation Walkabout and Wine & Cheese


Location: The Catalyst

Tour in-person exhibits/installations, mingle with colleagues and enjoy some wine and finger foods. There will also be a book display featuring published works by faculty at The Creative School.

Increasingly, students have been interested in not only playing games, but building them. The testing of games created by students however is not yet a consistent experience at Toronto Metropolitan University...until now. This exhibit showcases a 4-player arcade lounge style cabinet for social tournaments, which has been developed to house student projects and provide feedback to each game developer who has content on the machine. The machine has the potential to host leaderboards for the entire TMUnity, as well as promote healthy competition and social spaces for students.

Learning complex skills can be an overwhelming task for young children, and yet we are aware of the ever-growing pressures to ensure the next generation has the digital savvy to interpret and navigate our technology-fueled world. For subjects such as math, coding, science, and design, it has been shown that tangible aids can help children better absorb and retain knowledge. Similarly, young children are more comfortable exploring soft skills such as empathy and emotional intelligence through tangible aids such as puppets and stuffed animals. This exhibit looks at the potential for collaborative learning between young students, hand-held robotics, and screen-based learning for not only STEM subjects but also for developing emotional insight and intelligence.

Hydrones are interactive, autonomous, swarm watercraft that perform shows for an audience. Unlike traditional fountains, Hydrones do not require any fixed infrastructure, and are designed for quick deployment in water features, fountains, ponds, and so on, adapting their show to the size and shape of the venue, the position of the audience, and the number of Hydrones available. After a pre-scripted performance, Hydrones will disperse to the shore to individually interact with guests. When the performance is complete, the Hydrones are collected, leaving no trace. The Hydrone project was motivated by the desire to create experiences that help build bridges across diverse communities. In this exhibit, Alexander Bakogeorge demonstrates an early prototype of a single Hydrone that responds to audience interaction.

In this exhibit, Pavlo Bosyy shares his research on the philosophy and practicalities of training scenographers and theatre technology specialists. After studying pedagogical practices across the globe, Pavlo has analyzed curriculum structures, modes of assessment, and how learning theory impacts student involvement in producing theatre shows.

Contemporary media platforms like YouTube and Netflix allow users to adjust the playback speed from 25% to 200% of the original rate. While these adjustments are rudimentary and static, they provide new dimensions to the audience experience, facilitating accessibility and expediency. A recent survey of undergraduate students at UCLA found that 85% of respondents reported watching lectures back at quicker than normal speeds. In this exhibit, Finlay Braithwaite presents new interfaces that will allow for variable speed playback that responds dynamically to media content based on user preferences. Using a research through Design (RtD) approach, Finlay aims to better understand audiences' assumptions, experience, and tolerance to variability with the temporality of various types of media content.

This exhibit provides an introduction to SIKOSE: an open source catalogue of Indigenous research and creative products and outputs. Subject areas include: arts, agriculture, governance, performance, architecture, life sciences, publications, films and videos, and instructional resources. SIKOSE can be used by elementary, secondary, and post-secondary students alike.  

Journalism audiences are no longer solely reliant on traditional forms of media distribution such as print, radio and television to learn about relevant news. Internet-based platforms and digital technologies have reshaped how individuals can receive important news information. This shift has changed the physicality of how audiences engage with news, audiences have moved away from the use of news delivery devices, such as televisions and radios, that were reliant in varying forms on tactile buttons and knobs.

"Newsomatic" explores how digital technologies are changing news distribution through a lens of the changing physicality of news consumption, through the creation of an audio-based digital news device which plays custom news bulletins whose subject matter and playback is controlled through tactile analog knobs and buttons. 

This prototype examines how digital technologies such as single board computers, artificial intelligence and digital content can be combined with tactile controls such as knobs and buttons, to both embrace a new mode of journalism distribution while reintroducing an element of physicality to media consumption.

SORCE is an interdisciplinary collective of artists and academics exploring the potentials and problems of research-creation in the academy. Grounded in the sharing and discussion of process, SORCE seeks to broaden access to experimental creative praxes as valid forms of knowledge creation, engaging earnestly with the global call for transformative approaches to research. For RUBIX, the SORCE Collective has created an interactive project entitled ""Navigating Parallaxes: Wayfinding in an Un-conference"" that shares their reflections on their recent experience organizing a research-creation focused un-conference. This non-hierarchical, open structured event, held in November 2022, featured over thirty students and faculty from The Creative School, the Communication & Culture program, and beyond, set out to develop questions on the topic of research-creation drawn from embodied, engaged, and socially connective creative practices. Engaging with a diverse range of perspectives including those of Indigenous, Racialized, Queer, Mad and Disabled research-creators, SORCE and the Parallaxes participants committed to the ongoing need for open-ended, non-prescriptive forms of inquiry that engage with joyous, curious, and grounded forms of engagement, situating knowledge production firmly within the world.

RUBIX attendees will learn about the SORCE Team's experiences planning Parallaxes by participating in a scavenger hunt-like game and will contribute to a piece of research-informed artwork. 

Opinion Columnists and the Canadian Newsroom

This installation showcases results from a study on opinion columnists at three major Canadian news publications: The Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, and the National Post. By investigating how columnists choose to self-identify in their own writing, Asmaa Malik and team compared the demographic data of full-time columnists at these publications and compared it with the Canadian census over a 21-year period. Their findings showed that the real estate columnists occupy does not reflect well on the changing demographic of this country. 

In her work, Danielle Martin explores the tensions between experimental garments, consumption and responsible behaviour in the context of an accelerating ephemeral fashion. She is concerned with the accumulation of textile waste and considers solutions from the past along with emerging ones. The 3dCircularDress exhibit showcases "drape-able" 3D printed pieces made of recyclable materials. Developed by the FDCD_3dLab team, the 3D printed intricate structures were created using both the draping of fabric, a technique dating back to Antiquity, and 3D printing, an emerging technology associated with novelty and speed. 

We live in a world of data and computation, which increasingly shape our day-to-day interactions and experiences, often with far reaching consequences and little understanding of the long-term effects. Yet as physical beings, our shared physical experiences, and our material and sensory ways of constructing knowledge in the world remain the core of our existence. As evolving views in the cognitive sciences shift us toward more embodied paradigms of human cognition, it is important to consider how and why computational media should engage our bodies and minds together, collectively, within the physical spaces that surround us. Designing interactive systems that support a close connection between our motor, sensory and cognitive systems can offer powerful opportunities to re-shape the way we engage with and construct knowledge in data-driven domains, as well as to re-frame existing uses of mediating technologies such as VR, AR, and interactive surfaces. This exhibit presents ongoing research and prototype systems from the Synaesthetic Media Lab that explore how tangible and embodied interactions can support and enhance creativity, discovery, and learning across the physical and digital worlds.

Combining archival material, data sonification (sonic representations of data) and storytelling, The Dolphin House sonically remaps Cold War research on human-dolphin communication and situates it within the vertical cartography produced by the global expansion of military and scientific remote sensing infrastructures. The composition is based on archival recordings produced at John C. Lilly's Communication Research Institute's ("CRI") Dolphin Point Laboratory in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands where Lilly and his team carried out an ambitious research program that aimed to establish two-way communication between humans and dolphins.

In this exhibit, Christopher Smyth and Donna Abdelrazik share their research into the employment relationships between Graphic Communications Management (GCM) graduates and the industries that traditionally employ them (commercial print, publishing, media, and consumer packaging). Because there is a lack of current and accessible data on the employment of GCM graduates, the team aims to learn more about their employment patterns and gain insights into the decisions that have impacted their career paths. 



Hosted by:

  • David Gauntlett, CRC in Creative Innovation & Leadership
  • Ashley Lewis, Manager/Co-Director, The Creative School Innovation Studio

Location: The Catalyst

Japanese for “chit chat”, the PechaKucha is a presentation style developed in 2003 by Tokyo-based architects as an evening social event that has since spread to many different disciplines across the world. The format is meant to encourage presenters to share their ideas in a dynamic, concise, and visually compelling way. Presenters will tell the story of their research in just 400 seconds. Food and drinks will be available throughout the event.

Round 1 | 3:45pm-4:45pm

The World Premier of The Great Shadow by Alex Poch Goldin

During the rehearsal process for the world premiere of The Great Shadow by Alex Poch Goldin at 4th Line Theatre in Peterborough, ON, Cynthia Ashperger applied the taped playback rehearsal method to staging of this brand new play. The cast consisted of 25 actors of different levels of experience and proficiency — equity actors, non-equity actors, and community volunteer actors — which posed an interesting challenge to the process. This specific series of improvisations trains the actors to respond intuitively to the text and to organically develop blocking. Audio playback of the script was used to assist the actors in applying a variety of acting tools such as intention/objective, characterization, relationship, personal and objective atmosphere, sense of tempo/rhythm, form, ease, beauty, and whole. The improvisations were recored and analyzed.

How Digital Asset Management is Transforming the World Around Us & Creating Careers for TMU Students in this Exciting Field

The growth of digital content has been driven by the rapid convergence of digital-as-commonplace and the proliferation of smartphones, tablets and social media platforms. Because digitization by the publishing, media, and entertainment industries enables direct content consumption, demand for on-demand books, magazines, shows, and movies has steadily increased. This all translates into greater demand for places to store this vast reservoir of content and highlights the importance of Digital Asset Management (DAM). In this presentation, Reem El Asaleh discusses the importance of DAM education and how incorporating it in undergraduate curriculum can contribute to the success of The Creative School graduates.

In order to develop his understanding of creativity and the creative process, David Gauntlett talks and works with many talented, creative people who know what they are doing. But, when David has to do creative things himself, he finds it helps if he doesn't really know what he's doing. A few years ago, David started making electronic music with a combination of hardware and software. Over the past couple of years, he's gained the confidence to release some of his music and play it live. In this PechaKucha, David reflects on the journey of doing something that seems really exciting and fun, but also embarrassing and unwarranted, as a route to understanding more about the creative process.

In what ways can words kill? Some language kills directly, as with an execution order, while the violence in other language is less direct. A law that removes the rights of a particular community, for example, is language that may lead to higher death rates for certain populations. Whether direct or indirect, for language to kill, words must be performed in particular ways. Echoing Dorota Sajewska, Matt Jones calls language that kills "necro-performance". In this PechaKucha, Matt examines how language was used in the War on Terror to establish landscapes of violence in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. He highlights artists from the region whose creative work exposes patterns of racialization, surveillance, and gender-based violence that Middle Eastern and Central Asian bodies have been subjected to in the War on Terror. 

Norah Lorway is an artificial intelligence and music researcher, composer, and programmer who is an active performer of live coding laptop music. She is the co-creator of Scorch, a domain specific music programming language meant to make music programming more accessible and intuitive to a wide range of users. In this presentation, Norah takes a closer look at Scorch and how it can be used to bring users of multiple skill levels into the world of digital music production, AI, and computing.

Using the Sugar Plum Fairy tutu, Caroline O'Brien looks at the makers of costume, examining their techniques, their understanding of the body in motion, and the ways materials are combined in order to create virtuosic garments that contribute to virtuosic performances on the stage. The patterns generated in a costume workshop fragment the body, dividing it in several ways just as dancers do in the studio: above and below waist; individuating limbs and digits, concealing and revealing different parts so as to liberate it to move. Costume making employs collaborative working methods in a textless environment. Knowledge is shared through discussion and by example so that tradition and innovation live side by side in a workshop that is designed to facilitate the making. Caroline brings costume makers into focus, highlighting the ways they understand the body in motion to construct costumes that will endure the rigours of performance, and deepening our understanding of the intention that goes into professional costuming.

Round 2 | 5pm-6pm

FOMO (fear of missing out), is a contemporary form of social anxiety associated with "problematic" use of smartphones and social media. Charles Davis' recent study explores the various guises and subjective meanings of FOMO — which range from high social anxiety to a sense of empowerment — and how they're constructed within contemporary digital culture. In this presentation, Charles looks at the ways in which communication media is changing social interaction and how our deeply mediatized world has made FOMO a relatively universal contemporary psychosocial disposition.

Ashley Lewis is a new media artist and creative technologist with a focus on interactive installations, bio art, social justice and speculative design. In her PechaKucha, she explores new media art, science, slime mold and activism.

The news industry has faced an existential crisis in recent decades. The business model that has sustained it for generations is in jeopardy due to declining advertising revenue and stagnant subscription growth. In many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this challenging situation, but is has also sparked a new wave of journalism innovation. In this PechaKucha, Sibo Chen discusses how digital-born publications like the Conversation Canada and the Local Magazine, through their innovative journalistic practices, are transforming public perceptions of journalism. 

Over the last few decades, bio-based, biodegradable polymers have become one of the major global initiatives in sustainable food packaging. While they have the most potential to replace conventional polymers used in food packaging, bio-based polymers come with processing and application challenges. To achieve low production costs and improve performance, the design of bio-based material needs to improve. In this presentation, Ehsan Behzadfar discusses innovative solutions to the challenges of designing biodegradable packaging.

In Reframing Creativity, Valeria Duarte and David Gauntlett look at how artists and creators were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and how they adapted or pivoted in the face of this new reality. In this presentation, Valeria shares findings from focus groups on creative collaboration with Toronto-based artists that were conducted as part of the study. Valeria discusses the experiences of the artists and the striking connections her team discovered.

Round 3 & Closing Remarks | 6:15pm-7:30pm

Citing/Siting/Sighting the Ghost in British and American Architecture

Cameron Macdonell is a historian of art, architecture, and interior design. He focuses on the construction of meaning through iconographical, phenomenological, and psychological approaches to interiority, especially the narratology of textual environments and the ritualization of built environments. In this PechaKuhca, Cameron surveys the various manifestations of the ghost among interiors, highlighting their effects on contemporary design. These include the phenomenology of atmosphere, the anthropomorphism of vibrant materialism, alterity and agency in design, the technological dislocations in the human subject, and sustainability in a time of ecological crisis.

On October 22, 2022, stitched! presented Harmed in Hamilton, a live journalism show at Theatre Aquarius that focussed on the story of a group of high school students coming together to fight for a less harmful culture in schools. Three journalists (faculty, alumni and a current student) shared anecdotes about in-school experiences and raised questions about the limitations of central board policies around anti-bullying. The show was developed in collaboration with faculty and students in Journalism and Performance, directed by Lisa Cox, and choreographed by Louis Laberge-Cote. Sonya's presentation focusses on what the team learned about each others' practice and the opportunities for creative process development that arose from the performance.

In this PechaKucha, Marty Fink unsettles time-based narratives of HIV activism as a movement of the past by bringing early trans HIV archives into the present. Drawing on transgender fiction, queer theory, and disability studies, Marty brings the recently published diaries of trans activist Lou Sullivan into a contemporary moment of HIV activism. In refusing to locate HIV caregiving as either over or as disconnected from ongoing queer/trans legacies, Marty moves historical archives out of a nostalgic or inactive position. Through literary analysis, they reinvigorate trans archives of gay male desire to form a trans lineage that disrupts the space and time of this ongoing crisis. Marty asks how we can disrupt the tendency to place HIV caregiving narratives in the past by linking trans disability activism from the early AIDS crisis to contemporary writing on trans longing, cruising, and disability coalition. Drawing on their own perspective as a trans researcher accessing these diaries in the present, Marty looks to questions of pleasure and risk as they shape ongoing pandemics.

As an activity common to all cultures, singing is both everyday and extraordinary. But for those who are bad singers, singing is fraught with insecurity, worry, and shame. In Quantum Choir, Michèle Pearson Clarke shares a four-channel video installation that reflects on the vulnerability of learning to sing as a way of exploring the legibility, precarity, and affinity of contemporary queer female masculinity. Set in a custom architectural structure in the centre of a large gallery space, the video installation brings Michèle together with three other participants to work through the grief of being a bad singer. Following weeks of voice lessons with a vocal coach, they collaboratively construct a performance for the camera, progressing from initial vocal warm-ups right through to singing the pop song, "Queen of Denmark" by the queer artist, John Grant. As in previous works, Michèle uses performative gestures and repetition across the four screens to construct a video choir that harnesses queer kinship and intimacy to navigate a complex mix of privilege, oppression, power, and invisibility.