Campus Life

University hosts Crossing Boundaries and IAST 2018, a Collaborative Symposium

Leaders, researchers and students throughout Western Canada, representing 13 universities, in the areas of interactive arts, sciences, and technology will meet on the University of Lethbridge campus October 25-27, for Crossing Boundaries and IAST 2018, a Collaborative Symposium.

The three-day symposium, featuring presentations, performances, displays, lectures and cluster meetings aims to capture a wide audience. The goal is to facilitate exchanges and networking opportunities while providing a foundation for creative presentation, research and a sharing of ideas in the merging disciplines of interactive arts, sciences and technology.

Established by the Faculty of Fine Arts in 2016, the Crossing Boundaries Symposium has become a respected platform focusing in the areas of art and technology, hosting internationally recognized key-note speakers as part of its program and providing opportunity for students to share their creative initiatives, engaging with a broader community. The partnership between Crossing Boundaries and the inaugural IAST 2018 symposium presented even further opportunities for networking and participation on a national level.

IAST principal co-chair and Faculty of Fine Arts Department of Music faculty, Dr. D. Andrew Stewart saw Crossing Boundaries as an excellent opportunity to host the IAST (Interactive Art, Science, and Technology) 2018 symposium. After applying and being awarded the maximum funding for a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) grant, Stewart set the wheels in motion to bring IAST 2018 to uLethbridge.

“Both Crossing Boundaries and IAST mutually benefit since our initiatives line up,” says Stewart. “The Crossing Boundaries committee saw ways for our activities to coincide, and as such, participants will be exposed to the many people and expertise that IAST brings.”

The goals of IAST are to establish a framework and foundation for an art and technology cluster in Western Canada for individual scholars and artists, public research centres, universities, and associated institutional organisations. Digital media arts, music, visual arts, aboriginal research, theatre, film, computer and applied sciences, electrical engineering, creative writing, and dance are among the general disciplines represented by interested participants. 

“The merging of art and technology is certainly not new,” explains Stewart. “However, there is a lack of coordination between institutions when it comes to art and technology. IAST hopes to provide a mechanism for communication and an increased trans-disciplinary interaction among experts in these disciplines. Central to IAST is a belief that its participants seek new modes of human expression that broaden and deepen our abilities to communicate through art and culture creation.”

Dr. Bob Pritchard, IAST co-chair and University of British Columbia School of Music faculty, identified the need and benefit for a Western Canadian coordinating body in the research areas of interactive arts, science, and technology.

“While Winnipeg is essentially the geographic centre of Canada from west to east, it often seems that the distance between Western Canadian institutions is far greater than it is in Eastern Canada. Communication between research groups can be difficult, especially when the disciplines are not identical, such as between theatre technology, music performance, and visual arts. Our project is unique in that it will create strong connections between often-separated research areas in Western Canada, supporting a collaborative approach to research, development, and performance/presentation.”

Unique to the IAST 2018 Symposium are the scheduled cluster meetings: high level logistical discussions surrounding the formalization of an association among universities, open only to IAST registered guests. Presentations, exhibitions, and performances by U of L and visiting academics, open to both Crossing Boundaries and IAST registrants, provide further opportunity to share research and creative initiatives, network, and facilitate further discussion surrounding how IAST will formalize as a future national body.

Two keynote lectures by Dr. Aleksandra Dulic (UBC-Okanagan Campus, Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies and Director of the Centre for Culture and Technology) and Dr. Sid Fels (UBC-Vancouver Campus, Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Faculty of Applied Science) cap the three-day event.

“Dr. Aleks Dulic is internationally known for her work in interactive art, especially in the areas of inter-cultural community, learning, performance, and computing,” says Pritchard.  “Her art and code are very sophisticated, but they strongly connect with the communities in which they are created and displayed. As a keynote speaker she has the experience of working internationally in collaborative situations, but also the experience of carrying out research-creation locally, in the Okanagan.”

“Dr. Sid Fels is an electrical/computer engineer with a strong interest in interdisciplinary collaboration. Internationally recognized for his work in biomechanics modeling, human-computer interaction, and arts and technology, in 2001 he was one of the founders of New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME), an international organization that brings together musicians, engineers, software developers, and performers. He was the director of UBC’s Media And Graphics Interdisciplinary Centre (MAGIC) and he leads the UBC Human Communications Technology Lab,” says Pritchard. “Both of these keynote speakers have a deep familiarity with technology and the arts, and an awareness of the benefits to society through the promotion and propagation of interdisciplinary activities. Their own technical and artistic work can serve as models for many other artist-researchers who wish to develop collaborative approaches with others and with other labs.”

Integral to the success of the symposium are the opportunities available to students through presentation of creative works and displays, as audience members, or by assisting with the coordination of the symposium itself.

Although all reservations are filled for IAST guests, registration is still open for Crossing Boundaries participants. Early bird registration ends on October 19.

To register, and for more information, visit For more information about IAST, visit