A speculative design research cluster at the intersection of the life sciences, architecture and design, art history and curatorial practices and computational media.

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What are we?

The Speculative Life Research Cluster

Our research group is unique in the Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology at Concordia University in our emphasis on fostering science and technology studies, a focus on ecology and environment, our interest in scale and networks, and finally, our commitment to futurity and imagination as critical to design, art, and scholarship.

This cluster of artists, designers and scholars presents a rare opportunity to develop the systemic study and creation of emerging technologies with a focus on social justice, difference, and imagination. We engage with multiple technical ecologies, from bio-media to urban planning, in order to foster creative ways to think about the future of the planetary scale transformations currently occurring as a result of human action and technical developments.



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WhaT Do we do?

Research Groups & Collectives

The Speculative Life Research Cluster is home to the Ethnography Lab, labXmodal, Curatorial Research-Creation Collective and the Machine Agencies research group. Our diverse network includes the Ethnography Lab’s Montreal Waterways research group and fish migration and movement research projects and the CRCC’s curatorial research team who, through practice, research and collaboration are exploring how curatorial research-creation can become a practice of attunement. Here are some feature projects from our groups;


Work the work: Curation as Research-Creation Symposium

The Milieux Expo: Sights of Feeling

Speculating Through Movies

Planetary futures Summer school 2017

There’s always the other side

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Who are we?

Our cluster members are faculty, researchers and students.

Our cluster welcomes members from all disciplines and backgrounds. The Speculative Life Cluster’s membership represents a diverse breadth of research interests, including; makers, ethnographers, designers, filmmakers, sociologists, anthropologists, scientists, art historians, curators, communications scholars, and more…

If you are interested in becoming a member please get in touch with our Assistant Director, Treva Michelle Legassie at treva.legassie@concordia.ca.


Orit Halpern, director

Dr. Orit Halpern is a strategic hire in Interactive Design and Theory and an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Concordia University. Her work bridges the histories of science, computing, and cybernetics with design and art practice.

treva legassie, assistant director

Treva Legassie is an interdisciplinary researcher, artist, curator, and PhD candidate in the Department of Communication Studies at Concordia University, and a founding member of the Curatorial Research-Creation Collective.

Kregg Hetherington, Director, Ethnography lab

Dr. Kregg Hetherington is a political anthropologist specialized in environment and infrastructure, the bureaucratic state and international development in Latin America.


Chris salter, director, xmodal

Chris Salter is an artist, University Research Chair in New Media, Technology and the Senses, Co-Director of the Hexagram network for Research-Creation in Media Arts and Technology in Montreal and Associate Professor in the Department of Design and Computation Arts at Concordia. 

...even the humblest forms of matter and energy have the potential for self-organization beyond the relatively simple type involved in the creation of crystals...inorganic matter is much more variable and creative than we ever imagined.
— -Manuel De Landa, 1997
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Where are we?

The Milieux Institute


We are located within the Milieux Institute of Arts, Cluster and Technology at Concordia University. Drawing on a legacy of media arts research-creation, Milieux aims to mess with the boundaries of creative experimentation, graduate research and training, and progressive critical thought and practice. We work with partners and collaborators from cultural and technology sectors and across the world to examine, co-create and share ideas, prototypes,  experiences and practices that challenge assumptions shaping  contemporary digital culture.