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avatar for Megan Smith

Megan Smith

University of British Columbia
Associate Professor - Creative Technologies
Kelowna, BC, Canada
Megan Smith PhD is a new media artist currently working to bridge physical computing within virtual and augmented reality environments. Her art practice probes new systems for delivering syndicated data through narrative structure and she often works with geo-location, live-feed installation, and performance as methods for storytelling. Her practice-based research blends with critical design methods to effectively build immersive environments. In particular, she has become a leader in use-of-force VR development, working in collaboration with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Department of National Defense. In her Critical Making Lab, she is building a multi-user VR environment with moveable ‘smart’ props that incorporate haptic and biometric feedback to increase the illusion of risk within the VR situation, and add moments for human touch, smell and other sensations such as wind and temperature. In 2019, she was awarded a Research Fellowship at the Collaborative Centre for Justice & Safety, Regina, Saskatchewan for advancing public safety in Canada.

She is a partner on a SSHRC Insight project entitled “‘Disrupt/ability’: Disability, Ableism, Eye-Tracking Technology and Art Creation”, due to commence in Fall 2020.
Over a two-year period, Smith rode a networked vintage stationary bike across Canada, through Google Street View, from her studio in Regina, Canada. Over 330 hours of live-cast footage of the journey are archived on YouTube. Smith cycled through over 600,000 360-degree images, along 6,143 km of Trans-Canada highway, forming one of Canada’s most critical observations of the platform’s presence in Canada. She calls this project an adventure in physical computing. ‘Riding Through Walls’ was funded by SSHRC Insight Development, was part of the 2016 Project Anywhere global exhibition, and moved to the Dunlop Art Gallery for its performance finale in June 2018.
Smith was Creative Director and co-Founder of Canada’s national capital Nuit Blanche festival (2012-2015), a pop-up Contemporary Art event focused on embedding temporary transformative projects into public spaces. The festival annually hosted over a hundred artists from diverse areas of practice and was regularly attended by thousands of smiling people.

Smith holds a PhD in Contemporary Art & Graphic Design from Leeds Beckett University. She has taught at Leeds College of Art, the University of Ottawa, University of Regina and she joins the Faculty of Creative & Critical Studies, at the University of British Columbia as Associate Professor in July 2020.