CDH welcomes visiting professor Jeffrey Shaw

Jeffrey Shaw specializes in the application of digital media to artistic and cultural works. © Jeffrey Shaw

Jeffrey Shaw specializes in the application of digital media to artistic and cultural works. © Jeffrey Shaw

EPFL’s College of Humanities (CDH) is pleased to collaborate with renowned new media artist Jeffrey Shaw, who will adapt his visiting professorship to accommodate confinement measures in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Shaw will carry out his appointment in the CDH Laboratory for Experimental Museology (eM+), led by Sarah Kenderdine, until September, 2020. One of his primary research topics will be presence, or telepresence: the representation of the self in virtual environments. It’s a subject that is especially relevant at a time when much of the world is adapting to social distancing using digital technologies. 

“Presence defines a contingency for profound experiences and new knowledge. Today, it has many modalities including the actual, virtual and telematic. It’s the operational and aesthetic conjunction of these modalities that I want to pursue at EPFL,” Shaw says.

In addition to research, Shaw will teach CDH courses remotely, and is currently offering online seminars to master’s students in the Master of Science in Digital Humanities program.

‘Cultural shaping of technology’

As an artist, Shaw explains that his research agenda is always driven both by a personal desire and a social need to create meaningful, real-world experiences for a broad public.

“Life on planet earth today is experiencing many new and radically transformational technologies. The greatest challenge we face is the existential and cultural shaping of these technologies, so that they will be of real value in way they influence our lives and the environment,” he says. “The radical imperative for new media art is to be a beneficent agent in this digital transfiguration of our being and culture.”

He adds that both the eM+ Lab and ArtLab offer unique and exciting platforms to advance his research agenda, which is highly interdisciplinary. Indeed, Shaw has already launched a dialogue with Dario Floreano, head of the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems (LIS) in EPFL’s School of Engineering.

“I see prolific opportunities to conjoin Professor Floreano’s cutting edge research in wearable and aerial robotics with art and cultural heritage,” he says. “As EPFL is a global research leader in digital technology, the development of new directions in technology-informed interdisciplinary art stands to benefit exceptionally from the diversity of formative work being undertaken there.”

About Jeffrey Shaw

Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Jeffrey Shaw specializes in the application of digital media to artistic and cultural works. Over the course of his prolific 50-year career, he has pioneered interactive, virtual, and augmented approaches in exhibitions all over the world. His post in CDH adds to a long list of artistic residencies and professorships, including Chair Professor of Media Art at the City University of Hong Kong, Director of the CityU Center for Applied Computing and Interactive Media in Hong Kong, University Distinguished Professor at the University of New South Wales, and Visiting Professor at the Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing. In June, 2020, Shaw was awarded the prestigious ACM SIGGRAPH Distinguished Artist Award.