I'm Caitlin Fisher

Director of York University's Immersive Storytelling Lab

Augmented and virtual reality, electronic literature, future cinema, emerging technology.


Creating pioneering content at the intersection of art and technology

XR reality
digital storytelling
Future Cinema

About me

I am a Professor in the Department of Cinema and Media Arts in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design at York University where I also serve as Department Chair.

My areas of research and teaching include immersive storytelling – especially augmented and virtual reality –  electronic literature and future cinema,  producing pioneering content at the intersection of art and technology. 

I direct the Immersive Storytelling Lab and the Augmented Reality Lab at York University where I held the Canada Research Chair in Digital Culture from 2004-2014. I am committed to innovation in the area of augmented reality content creation, the pioneering of experimental literary forms and the development of a vibrant cross-disciplinary research culture, foundational to the development of expressive tools to allow artists to explore and advance XR as an artistic medium.

I am also a co-founder of York’s Future Cinema Lab and held a 2013 Fulbright Research Chair at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

My creative work enjoys an international profile and I am the recipient of international awards for digital storytelling including the Electronic Literature Award for Fiction and the Vinaròs Prize for augmented reality poetry, for one of the world’s first AR poems.

2014 - current Professor and Chair

Department of Cinema and Media Arts,
School of the Arts, Media, Performance, and Design,
York University
Director, Immersive Storytelling Lab
Director, Augmented Reality Lab
Graduate Program in Film
Graduate Program in Communication and Culture
Graduate Program in Interdisciplinary Studies

2014 Fulbright Research Chair

University of California, Santa Barbara

2004 - 2014 Canada Research Chair in Digital Culture

Faculty of Fine Arts, York University

2000 - 2002 Assistant Professor

Fine Arts Cultural Studies, York University


I bring over 15 years of interdisciplinary collaboration at the intersection of art and science to my research-creation work at York University, including a focus on building a convivial research environment that promotes diversity and equity.

I successfully defended the first born-digital dissertation in Canada and bring that spirit of risk-taking and excitement to my work with students, many of whom are working in the area of research-creation, often pioneering new areas of inquiry and practice and making significant global impact.

I have delivered 17 keynotes and dozens of invited talks around the world. Service to the profession has involved curating significant media arts shows, organizing major international conferences, and providing expertise and vision to research bodies like SSHRC, where I recently served as Chair of the Knowledge Synthesis Grants competition on Emerging Technologies.

I am the Vice-President of the international Electronic Literature Organization and serve on the Ezxecutive Committee for HASTAC – the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory: “Changing the Way We Teach and Learn”

Current Research

Next generation immersive editing: creating a webXR-based player for future cinema (SSHRC Engage grant)

This project brings together my research lab and a pioneering Toronto-based private sector partner Liquid Cinema, a company that holds the patents to key innovations in cinematic VR and has created industry-leading software. Together, my Immersive Storytelling Lab and the Liquid Cinema team are working to develop new methodologies and tools that will make it easier for filmmakers, artists and non-programmers to create innovative works in immersive virtual reality cinema, specifically a webXR-based player for future cinema. In so doing, this project also aims to advance the digital poetics of narrative virtual reality.

Electronic Literature

I'm collaborating with Illya Szilak and Cyril Tsiboulski on an AR lesbian western called Aveline. Aveline is a hybrid fiction/non-fiction Western for mixed reality. It tells the story of a young American frontierswoman who dresses as a man to overcome personal tragedy. Aveline is her journey of self-discovery as she negotiates the boundaries of class, race, gender and sexuality during the Fraser River gold rush in British Columbia.

Under the leadership of Dr. Lindsay Morcom (Algonquin Métis, Bear Clan), this NFRF project investigates the potential of immersive digital environments for their capacity to stage and risk cross-cultural, interdisciplinary and cross-generational encounters that hold the potential both to transform and pioneer new digital poetics in virtual reality - understanding indigenous ways of knowing and practices of making as foundational to this work – and to evaluate the use of these immersive spaces and the act of co-creation within them as an occasion for reconciliation.

I hold a SSHRC Insight grant to investigate Artificial Intelligence Storytelling and co-creaton with machines. How can AI augment and expand human creativity? How can artists and scientists work together create tools for storytellers that harness the power of AI while maintaining the highest ethical standards and enabling excluded and disadvantaged creators? What kinds of AI stories and games will engage and inform a variety of publics to recognise and understand AI generated narratives, increasing awareness of the ethical dilemmas we face as content consumers? How might artificial intelligence be mobilised to work against the inherent biases of western storytelling and the datasets that reproduce its dominance?

Using Interactive Digital Storytelling to Represent Transformative Quantum Technologies in Augmented/Extended Reality Environments

I’m collaborating on a grant with two of my former York Graduate students - grant PI Dr.Lai-Tze Fan Communication and Culture alum, now Assistant Professor at the University of Waterloo and Dr. Vicky McArthur, longtime AR Lab researcher and Communication and Culture alum now Associate Professor at Carleton University. It’s a QQSF Round 8 SEED grant associated with Waterloo’s Canada First Research Excellence grant for Transformative Quantum Technologies.

I'm collaborating with a national team of artists and researchers on a multi-year University of Alberta grant led by Dr. Sheena Wilson and Dr. Nathalie Loveless. Speculative Energy Futures is a collaborative, multi-year research-creation project that brings together artists, activists, scientists, engineers, policy makers, and social science and energy humanities researchers to investigate the challenges and potentials of energy transition through artistic means. Through collaborative work, Speculative Energy Futures participants will produce a series of art exhibitions, dynamic publications, and other artistic outputs that bring attention to the social and cultural impacts of energy transition.

My Lab is currently affiliated with the DepthKit pilot project to explore and refine tools for volumetric filmmaking.

Research proposals under consideration

X Reality

I am co-applicant on a SSHRC Insight proposal currently under consideration led by my colleague and CRC in Critical Disability Studies, Dr. Mary Bunch, entitled "Creating (Im)Possible Worlds with Extended Reality"

Extending Digital Narrative

Under the leadership of Dr. Scott Rettberg, University of Bergen, I'm collaborating on a research submission to the Norwegian Research Council to document, map, and analyze three emerging forms of digital narrative: Immersive, Conversational, and Generative digital narratives.

Citizen Storytelling

I am co-Pi on a $22M New Frontiers application led by Steven Hoffman, Director of York University's Global Strategy Lab. The proposed grant is entitled "Catalyzing Global Collective Action on Antimicrobial Resistance". I would lead the Citizen Storytelling stream.

I founded York’s Augmented Reality Lab (AR Lab) in 2004. It is dedicated to producing innovative expressive tools, research methods, interfaces and content that challenge cinematic and literary conventions and aim to enhance how people interact with their physical environments and with each other. In recent years much of work of the AR Lab has been subsumed by the Immersive Storytelling Lab. Highlights of the the AR Lab’s first 15 years is documented on our website. 

Located within the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design at York University, the Future Cinema Lab (FCL) investigates how new digital storytelling techniques can critically transform a diverse array of state-of-the-art screens. The FCL was the first dedicated facility of its type in Canada, enabling researchers to design new forms of storytelling, develop prototypes for urban research, and create innovative, subversive projects within networked and hybrid media environments.

The Immersive Storytelling Lab, situated in the AMPD@Cinespace Studios, supports collaborative research-creation and technology development in X-reality and trains highly-qualified personnel in the use of cutting edge equipment in an atelier-like environment where researchers and trainees can work and train across boundaries of art and engineering.

Current Projects

Selected Works

Select Completed Projects


Electronic Literature Organization HASTAC Department of Cinema and Media Arts

Vice-President,Electronic Literature Organization

Executive Committee member of HASTAC - the Humanities, Arts, Science, Technology, Alliance and Collaboratory

Department Chair, York University Interested? check out our welcome video here.

Talks & Teaching

Teaching & Supervision

Future Cinema

I’ve taught variations of this graduate course – both studies and lab-based – on and off for almost 20 years. The Future Cinema we imagined in 2003 is upon us! And there are new futures to imagine. The course examines the shift from traditional cinematic spectacle to works probing the frontiers of interactive, performative, and networked media. Drawing upon a broad range of scholarship, including film theory, communication studies, cultural studies and new media theory, the course considers how digital technologies are transforming the semiotic fabric of contemporary visual culture. Our focus will be on the phenomenon Gene Youngblood described decades ago as expanded cinema –  an explosion of the frame outward towards immersive, interactive and interconnected forms of culture.

Cinema and Games

Film 3840

This course examines the shift from traditional cinematic spectacles to games, to works probing the frontiers of interactive, performative, and networked media and experiences.  Drawing upon a broad range of scholarship, including game theory, communication studies, new media theory, world building and experience design, the course will consider how cinema is challenged, changed and enriched by coming into collision with resonant practices.

Graduate trainees

I supervise graduate students In Cinema and Media Arts, Communication and Culture, Humanities and Interdisciplinary Studies. 

Follow the link for details on current and former students and their projects to get an idea of the kinds of work I am open to supervising. 

Contributions to Training

For the past fifteen years, I have created research environments designed to support, promote and challenge graduate students and have involved over 40 graduate student researchers and innovative technical personnel in boundary-crossing research-creation in the creative arts, digital humanities and experience design fields involving state of the art technologies.

The work and training of graduate students is central to the design of all of my research projects and students working on funded projects in my labs are undertaking research at the cutting edge of art/science collaborations and are involved in international collaborations.

Students working in the lab have presented work at the UN for the World Health Summit, TEDx Dubai, TEDx Toronto, Congress, published documentation of prototypes in arts/culture journals, participated in SIGGRAPH and ISEA and have had research/creation work accepted at key galleries and festivals around the world. 

I am enthusiastic about mentoring and working with students from a wide variety of disciplines, including the cinema and media arts, computer science and engineering, creative writing and the humanities. Students working in my labs are at the forefront of intellectual conversations in the field, are developing digital content of significance and are poised to make vital research contributions

Learning Modules

Archived Talks

Press & Media


Caitlin Fisher, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair, Cinema and Media Arts
Rm 222 Centre for Film and Television
School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design
York University,
Toronto, Canada
M3J 1P3

Director, Immersive Storytelling Lab
@AMPD Cinespace Studio
Toronto, Ontario

416 736-2100 x22199
[email protected]

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Caitlin Fisher © 2020. All Rights Reserved.