Chris Salter’s large scale installations, performative environments and research focus on and challenge human perception, merging haptic, visual, acoustic and other sensory phenomena. Exploring the borders between the senses, art, design and new technologies, his immersive and physically experiential works are informed by theater, architecture, visual art, computer music, perceptual psychology, cultural theory and engineering and are developed in collaboration with anthropologists, historians, philosophers, engineers, artists and designers.
Salter’s work has been shown at major international exhibitions and festivals in over a dozen countries including the 2008 Venice Architecture Biennale (Venice), National Art Museum of China (Beijing), Lille 3000 (Lille), Fondarie Darling (International Biennale of Electronics Arts – Montreal), HAU3 (Berlin), Laboral Centro de Arte y Creacion Industriel (Gijon, Spain), Nuit Blanche (Paris), Vitra Design Museum (Germany), EXIT Festival (Maison des Arts, Creteil-Paris), Ars Electronica (Linz), Pact Zollverein (Essen, Germany), CTM (Berlin), Villette Numerique (Paris), Todays Art (the Hague), Todays Art.jp (Tokyo), Meta.Morf (Norway), Mois Multi (Quebec), transmediale (Berlin), Elektra (Montréal), the Banff Center (Banff), Dance Theater Workshop (New York), V2 (Rotterdam), SIGGRAPH 2001 (New Orleans), Mediaterra (Athens) and the Exploratorium (San Francisco).
Salter is Concordia University Research Chair in New Media, Technology and the Senses, Co-Director of the Hexagram Network for Research-Creation in Media Art, Design, Digital Culture and Technology, Director of Hexagram Concordia and Associate Professor, Computation Arts in the Department of Design and Computation Art at Concordia University, Montreal. He is a regular presenter at national and international conferences, has given numerous invited talks at universities and festivals worldwide and has sat on many juries including the Prix Ars Electronica among others.
In addition to his artistic work, Salter’s critical research can be found in his seminal book, Entangled: Technology and the Transformation of Performance (MIT Press, 2010) and Alien Agency: Experimental Encounters with Art in the Making (MIT Press, 2015).
The following are some of the more recent projects developed by the Chris Salter.
Dissense is a 30-40 minute live performance for a solo performer and up to 100 audience members. The work plays off and extends Alvin Lucier’s famed 1965 “Music for Solo Performer” (in which Lucier’s Alpha brainwaves activated a series of percussions instruments) by transferring sensations from one performer body to a mass of people. Equipped at the start of the performance with a range of body-based sensors (heartrate, respiration, skin conductance, EEG, electrical signals from the muscles), the performer moves through a range of intense tasks, transferring their physiological response into the crowd via light, sound and worn haptic devices. The emotional response to these changes is captured by the sensors and converted into haptic sensations on the audience’s bodies that can be either simultaneous or spread across the group like a wave.
Over the course of the performance, a minimalistic composition of light and soundunfolds with unpredictable moods, from very subtle and liminal to saturated flashes and noises. The performer and audience thus becomes the test subject of a mass experiment in visual and aural stimulation aimed at provoking subtle or bold sensations captured by the sensors and diffused across bodies – a radically new form of sensation at a distance.
Conception/Direction/Composition: Chris Salter + TeZ
Performer: Miri Lee
Vibropixel Technology: Ian Hattwick
Sensing/Electronics: Joseph Plazak
Production Assistance: Garrett Lockhart
Co-Production: TA and xmodal/Montreal
With the support of the Fonds de recherche du Québec - Société et culture (FRQSC), Speculative
Life Cluster/Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology @ Concordia University.
Haptic Field is a participatory multi-sensory installation merging contemporary fashion, wearable technology and an exploration of the senses beyond site that creates a singular and uncanny physical experience for the public. In the environment, a group of up to twenty visitors wear specially designed garments, which are outfitted with various sensing and actuating devices that enable visitors to interface with the performance space. Haptic Field thus provokes unusual and intense bodily sensations by blurring our senses of touch, sight and sound. With one’s ability to visually navigate and make sense of the world removed upon entering the installation, the visitor enters a continually shifting, hallucinatory, almost dream-like environment where nothing is what it seems and where one begins to experience other senses like touch, sound, proprioception, the experience of time and the invisible presence of others —senses that we normally ignore or forget about in our mainly visually dominated world.
Haptic Field forms part of a continued artistic exploration into the extension of the human sensorium within our contemporary technosphere. Beginning with JND (2010), continuing with Displace (2011-2013) and most recently, Ilinx (2014-2015), both collaborations with the Italian-born, Amsterdam based artist and musician TeZ, these sensory installations have been exhibited world-wide and examine how the boundaries between our different senses are, in fact, culturally constructed and how new technologies work to increasingly extend, shape and transform our sensorial experience within our socio-technical environment.
Concept: Chris Salter + TeZ + JNBY China
Direction/Composition: Chris Salter + TeZ in collaboration with Ian Hattwick
Clothing Design: JNBY
Technical Development: IDMIL, Director: Marcelo Wanderley, McGill University
Technical Direction: Ian Hattwick
Additional Technical Support: Julian Neri
Production: xmodal/Montreal + CAC
Supported by the Fonds de Recherche du Quebec - Societe et Culture and the Canada Arts Council.
Ilinx is a performative environment for the general public provoking an intense bodily experience that blurs the senses of sight, sound and touch. In the environment, a group of visitors wear specially designed garments. These wearables are outfitted with various sensing and actuating devices that enable visitors to interface with the performance space. During the event, a ritualistic progression which lasts approximately thirty minutes, the natural continuum between sound and vibration, vision and feeling becomes increasingly blurred, extending and stretching the body’ boundaries beyond the realm of everyday experience.
Credits: Chris Salter + TeZ + Valerie Lamontagne in collaboration with Ian Hattwick, Marcello Giordano, Ivan Franco, Morgan Rauscher and Marcello Wanderley
Premiere: September 2014, Todays Art, The Hague, Netherlands
Subsequent Showings: CTM 2015 (Berlin), TodaysArt (Tokyo)
Supported by the Canada Council for the Arts / GRAND Art Science grant
n-polytope is a spectacular light and sound environment combining cutting edge lighting, lasers, sound, sensing and artificial intelligence software technologies inspired by composer Iannis Xenakis’s radical 1960s-1970s works named “Polytopes” (from the Greek poly, many and topos, space). The installation is steered through a sensor network utilizing cutting edge machine learning algorithms which learns different rhythmic and temporal patterns produced by the light and sound and helps in generating a totalizing, visceral composition that self organizes in time. Masses of super bright LED’s and many tiny speakers are suspended through the space on a single ruled surface constructed of thin aircraft cable, creating a walk-through performance environment which continually swings between order and disorder, akin to Xenakis’s original fascination with the behaviors of natural systems.
Credits: Chris Salter in collaboration with Sofian Audry, Marije Baalman, Adam Basanta, Elio Bidinost, Morgan Rauscher and Thomas Spier.
Premiere: July 24, 2012, LABoral Centro de Arte y Creacion Industriel (Gijon, Spain)
Subsequent showings: Vitra Design Museum (Weil am Rhein), CTM 2014 (Berlin, Germany), Montreal, Paris
Supported by the Fonds de Recherche du Quebec – Societe et Culture
Displace is a performative environment which can be adapted to different sites and venues. In the installation, groups of visitors progress through a ritualized sequence of sensory-based actions — spatially defined stations that intermingle olfactory, gustatory, audio-visual, haptic and proprioceptive stimuli. The environment progresses through various scenes, culminating in a hallucinatory set of experiences where flickering color, sound and tactile vibrations merge to the point of physical and mental saturation.
Credits: Chris Salter + TeZ + David Howes
Supported by the Fonds de Recherche du Quebec – Societe et Culture
How do light and sound combine to create situations where we hear what we see and see what we hear? Atmosphere is a total sensory environment combining coloured LED light, sound, infrared heat and haze. Over a 20 minute cycle, sudden bursts of light, sound and heat transform the gallery into a synesthetic space fluctuating between dense overload and contemplative reflection. Exploring what architecture critic Mark Wigley calls "an architecture of atmosphere," a sensuous climate of ephemeral yet, tangibly felt effects envelop visitors, probing the ways in which the just perceivable opens up our experience of space and emotion.
Credits: Chris Salter and LabXmodal
Premiere: January 2011 FOFA Gallery (Montreal, Canada)
Just Noticeable Difference is a sensory environment for one person at a time lying in total darkness. The installation is based on Gustav Fechner’s concept of the jnd: the perceptual detection of the smallest changes in sensory stimuli. Over a specific range of time, visitors experience an extraordinarily range of visual, auditory and tactile sensations that challenge how we perceive the smallest degrees of change in sensory stimuli over different levels of intensities.
Credits: Chris Salter in collaboration with Marije Baalman and Harry Smoak
Premiere: March 2010, EMPAC - Experimental Media and Performing Arts Centre, RPI (Troy, New York)
Supported by the Conseil des arts et lettres Quebec and the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada
Territory: worldwide → Remco Schuurbiers
→ 07-10.09.17 Urgent Estimar @ Fira Tàrrega 2017 – Tàrrega, ES
→ 21–23.09.17 Dissense @ TodaysArt – The Hague, NL