Christopher Salter

Chris Salter is Concordia University Research Chair in New Media, Technology and the Senses, Co-Director of the Hexagram network, Director of the Hexagram Concordia Centre for Research and Creation in Media Art and Technology and Associate Professor for Computation Arts in the Department of Design and Computation Art at Concordia University, Montreal.

His numerous articles and books (Alien Agency, 2015; Entangled, 2010, MIT Press) reflect on his artistic development between research in the humanities, multi-sensory engineering and collaborative practice in the fields of digital art and theatre. By combining digital sound and animation with questions of materiality and performance in his experimental art installations and projects, Salter critically and aesthetically reflects on discourses in literature, psychology, performativity, sensory experience, cultural theory and philosophy. His projects were exhibited all over the world at e.g. National Art Museum of China, Venice Architecture Biennale, Elektra Festival, Ars Electronica, Transmediale.


Salter began to explore the intermedial relationships between sound, animation and dance in the early stage of his career in theatre by collaborating on multi-media stage performances with sound and interaction designs (e.g. Royal Opera House 1996, William Forsythe/Ballet Frankfurt 1995-98).

His experiments with what he termed “audio landscape” (Entangled, 2007) were continued in collaborations with the Jin Xing Dance Theatre and the Attakkalari Center for Movement Arts. “MADE IN CHINA” (2007, Jin Xing) and “CHRONOTOPIA” (2009, Attakkalari) centred on traditional literary writings and the sound and visual remediation thereof on the theatre stage.

In 1996, Salter formed the art and research collective Sponge with Sha Xin Wei and Laura Farabough to create “public experiments as artifacts of cultural engineering”. The group consisted of mathematicians, programmers, artists and scholars, who developed interactive and responsive installations and media environments that questioned sensorial perception and engaged visitors to become active participants of the projects.

His most recent work “HAPTIC FIELD” (2016), which was developed for the Chronus Art Centre in Shanghai and will be shown this year at Wiener Festwochen and Berliner Festspiele, takes visitors into an enclosed environment made of sounds and light. The Chinese fashion brand JNBY designed the clothes for visitors to be worn inside of the installation. The garments reduce the optical perception so participants have to rely on audio and other senses for orientation.

Roberto SIMANOWSKI (City University Hong Kong) on “TGARDEN”: “[Salter] calls the goal of his work a kind of reflected immersion, where the audience participates as both collaborator and critic […].”

Jason FARMAN (University of Maryland) on “JND”: Salter’s installation is drawn from his work as a dance practitioner: he collaborated with famed choreographer William Forsythe in various dance pieces that investigated the convergence of technologies, bodies, and movement. At the core of many of these performances are questions about how bodies and technologies work together to produce new practices of space and movement.”

Joke BROUWER (V2) on “MEMBRANE”: “Due to the increase of virtuality in our quotidian communication, gestures have lost center stage, however in “Membrane” they play a pivotal role in shaping the responsive media environment: with a wave of the hand or a sway of the head we construct our own calligraphic video sculptures.”

William FORSYTHE (William Forsythe/Ballet): “Entangled stays true to its name. It is one of those rare books that builds networks and bridges - between the body and technology, the material and the ephemeral, thinking and making.”

Sarah BAY-CHENG (Bowdoin College): "Chris Salter’s extensively researched and compellingly argued Entangled: Technology and the Transformation of Performance (2010) is the most wide-ranging survey of digital performance practices since Steve Dixon’s Digital Performance."

The ongoing documentation of Chris Salter’s work on ADA goes back to early interactive installations with Sponge in 1996 to his recent works in 2016. Videos, images, information on technology and a bibliography of his inspirations from science and philosophy can be found among the data on the respective artwork profiles as well as a general bibliography with Salter’s publications and all the authors mentioned on the artist profile.

The ADA documentation also sheds light on the conceptualisation of an artwork. Several installation plans and exhibition views can demonstrate along with the technical data not only the final project, but the development process as well. A blog on blogspot.co.at (now part of Google’s blogger.com), initiated by Sha Xin Wei for the “MEMBRANE” installation at V2, was archived by the ADA team for future analysis.

During the development of the art project, the international team of artists and scholars used the blog to share and discuss a few results. Parts of the conceptualisation and execution of the artwork can be traced when reading the blog entries and commentaries such as the development of a first 3D model made of cartonage to illustrate the visual and sculptural design of the responsive screen and the display of live video feed software for the final installation.