Speaker Series
Ali Mazalek

Ali Mazalek

Ryerson University

Mind Meets Matter: Constructing Knowledge in a Cyberphysical World

We live in a world of data and computation. Coupled together, large data sets and computational techniques are transforming our interactions with each other and with information sources across society, gradually reinventing our decision-making and knowledge building processes. Yet as physical beings, we still rely heavily on material and sensory ways of constructing knowledge in the world. A gradual shift in the cognitive sciences toward embodied paradigms of human cognition can inspire us to think about why and how computational media should engage our bodies and minds together. By supporting a close connection between our motor, perceptual and cognitive systems, emerging human-computer interaction techniques can offer powerful opportunities to re-think the way we engage with and construct knowledge in a cyberphysical world. This talk will present ongoing research and prototype systems from the Synaesthetic Media Lab that explore how tangible and embodied interactions can support and enhance creativity, discovery and learning across the physical and digital worlds.

Ali Mazalek has spent nearly 20 years trying to get digital technologies to fit better into her physical world and life, rather than letting them drag her into the pixelated depths of her computer screens. At the same time, she has a deep interest in how computational media can support and enhance creative practices and processes, supporting new forms of expression and new ways of thinking and learning. She is a Canada Research Chair in Digital Media and Innovation and Associate Professor in the RTA School of Media at Ryerson University. Her Synaesthetic Media Lab (synlab.ca) is a playground where physical materials, analog sensors, and digital media happily co-exist and come together in novel ways to support creativity and expression across both science and art disciplines. Mazalek received M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the MIT Media Lab and a Hon. B.Sc. in computer science and mathematics from the University of Toronto. She is a member of the inaugural cohort of the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists.