About Pepper's Ghost

Pepper's Ghost New Media & Performing Arts Collective was founded in Vancouver, British Columbia in the spring of 2014 by veterans of the theatre, dance, film, music and video game industries, along with leading academic researchers in new media, to explore the expressive potential of advanced computer graphics, digital audio and visual effects technologies, including real-time motion capture, stereo 3D projection, electronic sound synthesis and virtual & augmented reality, in the creation of live theatre, music and dance performances.

Who We Are

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Athomas Goldberg is a 20-year veteran of the computer graphics and video game industries specializing in real-time interactive animation and behavior-based AI systems.  He has worked for several major game developers, including Electronic Arts, where he oversaw the architecture and development of ANT, the character animation system currently in use across all of EA’s sports and action titles, as well as Relic Entertainment, Microsoft Studios, Oculus VR, and Epic Games. He continues to provide animation expertise on character-based interactive entertainment and education projects through his company, Lifelike & Believable Animation Design.

His new media performance practice seeks to marry the visual expressivity of modern graphics technologies, including motion capture, procedural animation, stereo 3D projection and virtual / augmented reality with the emotional immediacy of live performance techniques drawn from theatre, dance, circus arts and Bunraku puppetry. His most recent work, worlds, which he co-directed with Thecla Schiphorst, featured 5 dancers on 3 stages in 2 cities (Vancouver & Montreal) separated by 3700 km, performing together in a shared virtual world.

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Thecla Schiphorst is Director and Professor in the School of Interactive Arts and Technology at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. She has an Interdisciplinary MA under special arrangements in Dance and Computing Science from Simon Fraser University (1993), and a Doctor of Philosophy – Ph.D. (2008) from the School of Computing at the University of Plymouth. Her background in dance and computing form the basis for her research in embodied interaction, focusing on movement knowledge representation, tangible and wearable technologies, media and digital art, and the aesthetics of interaction. She applies body-based somatic models as articulated in systems such as Laban Movement Analysis to technology design processes within an HCI context. Her research goal is to expand the practical application of embodied theory within technology design.

She is a member of the original design team that developed Life Forms, the computer compositional tool for choreography, and collaborated with Merce Cunningham from 1990 to 2005 supporting his creation of new dance with the computer.

Thecla Schiphorst is the recipient of the 1998 PetroCanada Award in New Media, a biennial award presented to a Canadian Artist for their contribution to innovation in art & technology in Canada and the recipient of three IDMA (International Digital Media Awards) including the people’s choice award for my design of immerce(1994), an interactive interface based on John Cage and Merce Cunningham’s compositional strategies that enabled user’s to explore the Cage/Cunningham media archive by varying navigation modes (linear, associative and random).

Schiphorst’s media art installations have been exhibited internationally in Europe, Canada, the United States and Asia, in numerous venues including Ars Electronica (1997), the Dutch Electronic Arts Festival (DEAF03 + DEAF07), Future Physical Cambridge (2003), Siggraph Electric Garden (1997), Siggraph Emerging Technologies (2005), the Wexner Centre for the Arts (1998), the Canadian Cultural Centre in Paris (1997), the London ICA (1999), at the MM’10 exhibition at the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, in Florence, Italy (2010), and the Michel Journiac Gallery at the Paris-Sorbonne (2012).

Thecla Schiphorst leads the whisper[s] research group an acronym for: wearable, handheld, intimate, sensory, personal, expressive, responsive systems, and is the Director and Principle Investigator of the $2.3M SSHRC funded International Institutional Partnership entitled MovingStories: Digital Tools for Movement, Meaning and Interaction, which brings together researchers from Movement Analysis, Computing Science (artificial intelligence and machine learning), Human Computer Interaction, Cognitive Science, Psychology, Dance, Theatre and Interactive Art. www.movingstories.ca

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Maria Lantin is the Director of the Intersections Digital Studio, at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design. She has extensive experience in computer graphics, visualization, and simulation in both the academic and industry settings. She was granted her PhD by Simon Fraser University (SFU) in British Columbia, in 1999. Her doctoral research focused on biological visualization, particularly the development of plants at the cellular level. An extensive software project was produced as the result of the research and has been used by biologists to conduct virtual experiments. Results from one of those experiments were published in the Annals of Botany in 2002.

Following her PhD, Maria worked as an assistant professor at the Technical University of British Columbia (TechBC) at the very start of the innovative institution. TechBC has since been annexed to Simon Fraser University. Following this experience, she worked at Mainframe Entertainment as a senior developer/researcher. In this role, she was involved in developing 3D-stereo projection software for computer-generated animations on IMAX screens. Maria held the director of research position at IDELIX Software Inc., where she used her visualization expertise to promote innovation in the start-up viz company. IDELIX has won many awards for their detail-in-context visualization software and is one of the very few successful visualization companies. Taking a hiatus from Vancouver, Maria spent 3 years at the Banff Centre leading their visualization lab where she helped produce artisitc and scientific work, and pursued her own research program focused on the visualization of quantum information science.

In her role of Director of the Intersections Digital Studio, Maria is helping create an inspiring and welcoming environment for interdisciplinary research at the Emily Carr Insitute. She also continues her collaborative visualization practice in the domains of quantum information science, human conversation and virtual reality.

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prOphecy sun’s interdisciplinary performance practice threads together both conscious and unconscious choreographies, sound, and environment, to create exploratory works that invoke deep body memory and draw from an interior landscape of dreams. She is a PhD student at the School of Interactive Arts + Technology at Simon Fraser University with Dr. Thecla Schiphorst. She is the recipient of the Governor General’s Gold Award. She is based in Vancouver and is a founding member of Dance Troupe Practice (a movement based performance collective) and current resident at the Pandora Park Fieldhouse. Her experimental performances, sound compositions, installations, videos and collaborations have been exhibited in such events as inFlux at the Surrey Art Gallery, L’alternative: Festival de Cine Independiente de Barcelona, ISEA 2015, DIS 2014, FUSE at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver International Jazz Festival, International Experimental Cinema Explosion (USA), Your Kontinent Festival: Art in Containers (Richmond), Festival des Musiques Creation (QB), Live- Performance Art Bienalle, Soundasaurus Media Arts Festival (AB), Signal and Noise Media Festival, Exploding Cinema (UK), Square Waves Festival (UK), Dancing on the Edge Festival, Month of Performance Art (Berlin), 12 Min Max, and Low Lives 4 International Festival of Live Networked Performances.

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Stuart Maxwell lives two lives. A VFX Artist by day, making weapons feel epic and blood feel sickly sweet. By night, he lovingly crafts the curious and beautiful world of his indie game Shape of the World. In the past he has been a VFX and UI artist at Relic Entertainment, as well as video developer and concept artist for his own entertainment.

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Shannon Cuykendall is a dance artist, PhD student, and researcher in the MovingStories project at Simon Fraser University. Through scholarly and artistic work, Shannon explores kinesthetic empathy and the transfer of kinesthetic knowledge through multiple modalities. She applies this research to dance education / preservation / choreography, interaction design, and research in movement perception. Shannon’s choreography has been commissioned across the United States in Oklahoma, Texas, Indiana, Vermont, and California and has also premiered abroad in Spain. Shannon received her BFA in Ballet Pedagogy (2006) from the University of Oklahoma and her MFA in Dance (2011) from UC Irvine .

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Sean Arden is an artist /film maker holding a Master of Applied Arts in Media from Emily Carr University. He has over 12 years experience implementing experimental technologies for the arts. Animation, video installation and photography have historically been Sean’s focus. More recently his research into stereoscopic 3D communication techniques, positions Sean’s practice with stereoscopic video, photography and their tools into a discourse around media arts. By exploring the subtleties of the effects of 3D, a new form of more physical communication emerges in relation to the viewer, especially in an installation context. Arden’s work has been exhibited internationally and locally at the Western Front, New Forms Festival, Charles H Scott Gallery and Your Kontinent Media Arts Festival. 

Sean is a research technician at Emily Carr University’s Intersections Digital Studio and has over a decade’s worth of Research and Development expertise. He currently manages multiple projects out of the Prototyping, Media and Programming Lab (PMP Lab) using cutting edge technologies to develop new innovations in the field of media, immersive technology and image capture. His current projects include, VRoaming ( Untethered Virtual Reality using Motion Capture), wireless device communication in VR and the development of proptics (physical interactive props that coincide with a virtual counterpart), Stereoscopic 4K High Framerate production and HDR video capture.