Alice Lab for computational worldmaking

Alice Lab

The Alice Lab

The Alice Lab's program of interdisciplinary research-creation applies a deep commitment to the open- endedness of computation—as an art material—toward technologies of artificial intelligence within immersive mixed reality. The research and training program will result in new software for artists to co-create immersive worlds—as art installations—from within the worlds themselves. As collaborative improvisations enacted with the whole body, this will radically change how we sculpt complex forms and behaviours. Moreover, these worlds will be more responsive, playful, and curious. Disseminated in public venues, they will share a different conception of the cohabitation of human and artificial beings.

The Alice Lab is directed by Graham Wakefield, Canada Research Chair & Associate Professor, School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design, York University
Academic profile at York University
Canada Research Chair profile
Artist profile in Artificial Nature

Research Program

Computationally-infused technology now saturates our living environment and increasingly shapes our decisions and lives, and this technology is becoming more visually, sonically, and spatially aware. It is common to think of computation as a tool for solving a problem, or a machine for achieving a given task, or perhaps merely a platform to render and disseminate pre-given content. But such utilitarian perspectives miss a fascinating and fundamental capacity of computation–that it can continually and interactively rewrite itself into being something else–which is a characteristically creative capacity it shares with nature. (Moreover, adhering to pre-given goals and design for exploitation risks infusing unwelcome biases of hidden stakeholders–as evident in current debates around Artificial Intelligence.) In contrast, the central research program for the proposed renewal of the CRC asks: Can we use this mutability of computation to create environments that are more abundantly open, explorable, playful, and collaborative in meaningfully rewarding ways? Can we use immersive technologies, including Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality, sometimes referred to collectively as “XR”, to build toward such futures and to place artists and the wider public at the heart of how they are shaped? The Canada Research Chair program in Computational Worldmaking at the Alice Lab (2014-2025) tackles these questions from each end of the human-machine spectrum via two concurrent research streams of Improvising Worlds and Curious Worlds. The former places artists in the full context of immersive works as they rewrite them in-place; the latter develops artificial agents that can rewrite themselves to be more curious, playful, and creative with us.




Talks, panels, guest lectures, and workshops

(Excluding conference presentations with publications)


Graduate students conducting research/art in the lab

Undergraduate students conducting research/art in the lab


Room 309, Goldfarb Center for Fine Arts,
School of the Arts, Media, Performance, and Design, York University,
86 Fine Arts Rd, Toronto, ON M3J 1P3, Canada

Getting there from the York University TTC Subway station:

Courses taught by the director