AFA Art House

Alan Dunning
Date: 1950
Alan Dunning
Biography: A visionary virtual reality artist, Alan Dunning harnesses the power of computers to populate his real-time, interactive, monumental, multimedia installations with text and images. His results have won him international acclaim and awards. Born in Teddington, U.K., Dunning studied at the Bath Academy of Art (1969 - 1972) before attending the University of Alberta (1975 – 1977). In the 1970s he founded the international collaborations First International School of Whim (FISW) and the Society of Thorburn’s Astral Research (STAR), and remained one of its leading members through the 1980s. During the late 1990s, Dunning plunged into researching virtual reality. He co-founded the Einstein’s Brain Project (1996 – 2013) with artists, scientists, and technologists from Canada, the U.S., the U.K., and Japan. They collaborated to produce widely-seen exhibitions exploring consciousness, somatic transhumanism, and analogue reality as a brain-generated construct. The installation used biofeedback from viewers to change its audio and video projections and its ferrofluid (magnetically-malleable iron-oil emulsion) sculptures. Numerous books including Transdisciplinary Digital Art: Sound, Vision and the New Screen and Acting Bodies: Embodying Computing Power, Bodies, Memory and Technology, and Dunning’s own 384-page companion book containing all the exhibit’s images, documented the remarkable installation. During this time, Dunning headed the Department of Media Arts and Digital Technologies at Alberta College of Art + Design (2000 – 2013). He also became Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at the University of Calgary (2010 – 2013), which overlapped with his role as Adjunct Professor of Art (2012 – 2015). He followed these terms with a stint as Research Collaborator with CITU Université Paris-8 (2014 – 2015). The Einstein’s Brain Project is only one of more than a hundred of Dunning’s exhibitions, which he has mounted in Kitchener-Waterloo, Chicago, Mexico City, Singapore, Novosibirsk, Prague, Bilbao, and elsewhere. Various international collections house his works, including those of the National Gallery of Canada, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Dunning has received numerous awards and grants, including from the Daniel Langlois Foundation, Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Canada Council, and the Association of Commonwealth Universities. Dunning lives and works in Victoria.
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