Centre for Research-Creation in Media Arts and Technologies

Chris Salter

Christopher Salter


Christopher Salter is an artist, Director of Hexagram-Concordia (on sabbatical through 2012) and Associate Professor for Design + Computation Arts. Salter studied economics and philosophy at Emory University and received his Ph.D. in the area of theater with a second concentration in computer-generated sound from Stanford University. He was also a visiting professor at Brown University, the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), the Kunsthochschule für Medien in Cologne, Germany, and the MA in MediaArtHistories, Danube University. After collaborating with Peter Sellars and William Forsythe/Ballett Frankfurt, he co-founded and directed the art and research organization Sponge (1997-2003). His solo and collaborative work has been seen at major international exhibitions and festivals in over a dozen countries including the Venice Architecture Biennale (Venice), National Art Museum of China (Beijing), CTM (Berlin), Ars Electronica (Linz), Villette Numerique (Paris), EMPAC (USA), Transmediale (Berlin), EXIT Festival (Maison des Arts, Creteil-Paris), Place des Arts (Montréal), Elektra (Montréal), Todays Art (The Hague, Netherlands), PACT Zollverein (Essen, Germany) and v2 (Rotterdam), among many others. He regularly presents at national and international conferences, has given invited talks at universities and festivals worldwide and has sat on numerous juries including NIME, ISEA and the Prix Ars Electronica. He is the author of Entangled (MIT Press, 2010).

Research Overview

xmodal is dedicated to a deeper exploration of the concept of interaction that goes beyond the traditional one-to-one relationship between user and computer and instead towards that of the embodied inhabitant in complex, dynamic environments. To accomplish this, xmodal focuses on interdisciplinary research-based practice involving theory/practice and collaborations from the visual and performing arts, design, engineering and computer science, computer music, anthropology, architecture, sociology, philosophy and techno-cultural studies. xmodal produces three outcomes from its research:

1). Artistic performance/installation/research projects that tour internationally and explore the intertwining of human perception and technical systems.
2). Scholarly work in the form of books, essays, conference presentations and technical proceedings.
3). Development of hardware and software tools for sensing and dynamic control of media environments.

xmodal is funded by SSHRC, FQRSC, Hexagram, CINQ, CALQ, Canada Council for the Arts, Concordia University and other sources.

Project Highlights

Mediations of Sensation is a research-creation program bringing together artistic work in “multimodal” environments using new technologies with anthropological research into the varieties of human sense experience across cultures. The main objective is to explore if such environments can be used as an instrument for new forms of anthropological inquiry, particularly in relation to sensory anthropology and how sensory anthropology can influence new multi-modal models of immersion beyond strictly audio-visual perception. The first public iteration of the project, Displace, was a performative environment designed and shown in the context of the American Anthropological Association’s annual conference in Montreal in November 2011. The project is being developed for its European premiere in 2012.

Displace v.1, Hexagram/AAA, 2011

Just Noticeable Difference is a sensory environment for one person at a time lying in total darkness. The installation is based on Gustav Fechner’s concept of the Just Noticeable Difference: the ability to perceptually detect the smallest changes in sensory stimuli. During a set time period, visitors experience an extraordinarily wide range of visual, auditory and tactile sensations that challenge how we perceive the smallest degrees of change in sensory stimuli over different levels of intensities. JND explores the gaps in seeing, hearing and feeling and the play between sensation and sense-making directly taking place at the level of bodily experience.

JND, Translife, Triennial of New Media Art, National Art Museum of China, 2011



Dr. David Howes (Anthropology, Concordia)
Dr. Marcelo Wanderley (Music, McGill)
Dr. Erica Lehrer (History, Concordia)
Dr. Marije Baalman (STEIM, Amsterdam)
Dr. Andrew Pickering (STS, University of Exeter, UK)
Prof. Sam Auinger (Sound Design/Composition, UdK Berlin)
Bruce Odland (Independent Composer/Sound Designer, Croton on Hudson, NY)
Tez (Maurizio Martenucci) (Audio-Visual Performance/Research, Optofonica, Amsterdam)
Dr. Ionat Zurr (Biological Arts, SymbioticA, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia)
Prof. Zhang Ga/TASML (Curator/Director, Tsinghua Art Science Media Lab, Tsinghua University, Beijing)
Jayachandran Palazhy (Choreographer/Dancer/Director-Attakkalari, Bangalore)
Erik Adigard (Design/StrategyM.A.D., San Francisco)

Affiliated Graduate Students and Research Assistants

Harry Smoak (PhD, SIP; Responsive Environments/STS)
Sofian Audry (PhD Humanities; Machine Learning/Ubiquitous Computing)
David Szanto (PhD SIP; Food Studies and Gastronomy)
Florencia Marchetti (PhD Humanities; Anthropology/Ethnography/Documentary Film)
Mike Wozniewski (PhD SIP; Engineering/Augmented Reality)
Patrick Harrop (PhD Humanities; Architecture)
Jaclyn Meloche (PhD Humanities; Performance and Art History)
Natalie Doonan (PhD Humanities; Performance and Sensory Studies)
Adam Basanta (MA SIP; Music Composition/Media Environments)
Shannon Collis (MA SIP; Printmaking/Sound)
Matthieu Tremblay (Design Grad Certificate/Computation Arts; Media Design)
Brett Bergman (Undergrad IMCA; Media Design and Management)
Elio Bidinost (MS Computer Science)
Christian Pelletier (MA SIP; Artificial Intelligence/Dynamic Environments)
Katie Jung (Manager)


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