Caitlin Fisher Awarded Canada Research Chair

Film & Video Professor Caitlin Fisher has been awarded a prestigious Canada Research Chair (CRC) by the federal government in support of her work in the area of digital culture. Her award, valued at $100,000 a year for five years, is one of four new Chairs established at York University and 194 nation-wide in the current round of CRC funding.

The announcement was made on Nov. 12 in Vancouver by Prime Minister Paul Martin and David Emerson, minister of industry and minister responsible for the Canada Research Chairs program. “We’re proud that the funding announced today will support research by Canada’s leading scholarly and scientific minds,” said Martin.

“In the new economy, our most important resource is people,” Emerson said . “This is why the Canada Research Chairs program is so vital to Canada’s future. These researchers not only create world-class knowledge that is being put to use right now, across all sectors of society, but they are also helping train the next generation of researchers and knowledge workers.”

Digital technology is transforming the way Canadians relate to all aspects of language ­ the way we read, write and communicate with one another. Digital technology has also transformed narrative and storytelling in traditional poetry, cinema and fiction. As a result, there is a pressing need for research that asks what it means to read and write in the digital cultural age.

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Caitlin Fisher

Internationally recognized for her research and creative contributions in the emerging field of digital culture, Fisher will devote part of her time as Canada Research Chair to investigating the future of narrative, interactive storytelling and interactive cinema in augmented reality environments.

Augmented reality (AR), an emerging and vital area of virtual reality research, involves the development of technologies for merging real and virtual images, exploring the kinds of experiences made possible in these computer-enhanced environments and studying the effects. In AR environments, virtual images are laid over real ones to create an “augmented” display.

Fisher and her colleagues at York will collaborate with Professor Jay Bolter of the Georgia Institute of Technology and his team, who are developing new and cost-effective technologies for enabling AR experiences. This collaboration will eventually lead to the establishment of an Augmented Reality Lab at York which will be dedicated to the exploration of potential uses of AR, while positioning York as a pioneer in the field.

Fisher will also research the potential of digital archives and their relationship to storytelling. The “Art of Archiving” project will provide insights into how digital archiving can have an impact on digital research techniques and cultural transmission. This project will improve cultural dissemination and provide better models for e-learning.

Fisher is the second Canada Research Chair holder in the Faculty of Fine Arts at York University. Her colleague, Film & Video Professor Janine Marchessault, was awarded a Canada Research Chair in Art, Digital Media and Globalization in 2003.