Digital Economies Lab

Fostering artistic prosperity in a digital world

For our Digital Economies Lab, Artengine brought together a diverse group of artists, designers and other creatives to rethink the infrastructure of cultural production in the 21st century.

The DEL asked, how do we foster artistic prosperity in a world increasingly dominated by digital technologies? Are there more challenges than opportunities in the current landscape of cultural production? How can we make a viable and sustainable space for artists, creatives and culture in general, in the digital context of Canada and the world?

We collaborated with HOLO.MG to produce the DIGITAL ECONOMIES READER. Check out the DER on their website to dig deep into the ideas and people involved in the project.

Start: 01/11/2019

End: 31/07/2021

With digital technologies taking up an ever larger space in our lives, Artengine set up the DEL to think through the infrastructure of the creative world in a new way.

The project began with an in-person strategy session in early 2020. This opening session was a key interrogation and collective reflection on the challenges facing the cultural community, and a wide range of project ideas were developed in this time. Smaller working groups formed working on a number of key themes including resource access, resource sharing, care and worker solidarity.

The challenges of 2020 exacerbated the already precarious position of artists. The lived reality of our DEL participants pushed the conversation beyond a technologically innovative frame and into a more structural one.

The DEL produced many project ideas with a few of these being developed into their early form during the lab.

Local_404 was a speculative design project which attempted to sketch out how digital technologies could be used to create greater labour solidarity in the creative sector.

The Artist’s Almanac focused on how to coordinate access to resources and care for artists of color and Indigenous artist. This project emerged from the lab through Suzanne Kite and is now being further developed with the Feminist Media Lab at Concordia University.

The Offer Need Machine led by Kofi Oduro, Macy Siu and Julie Gendron, moved through two stages of preliminary research and secured further funding for its current stage of prototyping, and Artengine is excited to continue to partner with ONM on the project development.

Digital Economies Reader

To share insights from the lab, we partnered with HOLO.MG who produce the DIGITAL ECONOMIES READER. This expansive reader includes interviews with participants at different stages of the project, pitches, critical context, resources and writing by the projects lead writer, Matthew Braga.

Check out the DER on their website to dig deep into the ideas and people involved in the project.

DEL Participants

Macy Sui, Tim Maughan, Julie Gendron, Kalli Retzepi, Kofi Oduro, Swintak, Lee Jones, Jerrold McGrath, Michèle Champagne, Emmanuel Madan, Izzie Colpitts-Campbell, Suzanne Kite, Aaron Casey

Program Details

This project was generously supported through the Canada Council for the Arts: Digital Strategy Fund.

We want to thank Jeremy Bailey for his generosity in helping this project with their wonderful insight, ideas and inspiration!

Team Members

Artengine: Ryan Stec (Artistic Director), Remco Volmer (Managing Director), Kseniya Tsoy (Project Coordinator)

Programming Committee

Jeremy Bailey (Famous New Media Artist and Lean Artist Founder – Toronto)

Sarah Brin (Strategic Partnerships at Meowolf – Albuquerque, New Mexico)

Jen Hunter (Consultant and Facilitator at Deloitte Greenhouse – Ottawa)

Communication Partner

HOLO Team: Alexander Scholz, Greg J Smith and Filip Visnjic



Macy Sui

MACY SUI is an artist and foresight strategist who is driven by expression and empowerment tied to the hyphen of in-between spaces. As part of the Toronto-based foresight studio, From Later, her practice focuses on creating evidence-based experiential futures and speculative design towards driving conversations around possible inclusive futures. Macy has a background in fine arts (photography and video art) with editorial and public relations experience in the art museum sector (The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Solomon Guggenheim Museum New York). She is also a licensed lawyer in Ontario, with a specific interest in intellectual property law, and is currently a Board Member of CARFAC Ontario. Macy holds a Master of Design in Strategic Foresight and Innovation from OCAD University.

Tim Maughan

TIM MAUGHAN   is an author and journalist using both fiction and non-fiction to explore issues around cities, class, culture, technology, and the future. His work regularly appears on the BBC, New Scientist, and Vice/Motherboard. His debut novel INFINITE DETAIL was published by FSG in 2019 and was picked by The Guardian as the best science fiction and fantasy book of the year. He also collaborates with artists and filmmakers and has had work shown at the V&A, Columbia School of Architecture, the Vienna Biennale, and on Channel 4. He currently lives in Canada.

Julie Gendron

JULIE GENDRON is an independent creative director, digital strategist and artist. She is very interested in creating platforms, experiences and events that allow people to explore and create their own point of view, culture and communities.

As a consultant, Gendron works with art and non-profit organizations to enhance their digital efficiencies, build curatorial and audience opportunities and provide digital product design.

As an artist, her choice of medium is varied and conceptually dependent. She is inspired by dissembled technology, participation, sound, land, satire, data, decay, mutation and unpredictability. She is one half of the artist collective Manufacturing Entertainment with Emma Hendrix.

Gendron completed her graduate work in the department of Art, Design and Technology at Concordia University specializing in Participatory Design. She has received awards and grants from the Japan Media Art Festival, Canariasmediafest (Spain), Centre interuniversitaire des arts mediatiques, Dora and Avi Morrow Award for Excellence in Visual Arts, Creative BC, BC Film, Canada Council for the Arts and British Columbia Arts Council. She has shared her work at various conferences and exhibitions in Canada, Sweden, Iceland, Spain, Japan, Australia and the US.

Kofi Oduro

KOFI ODURO’s artistic practice is an observation of the world around us, which he then inserts into artwork for others to relate to or disagree with. Through videography, poetry and creative coding, he tries to highlight the realms of human performance and the human mind in different scenarios. These situations can be described as social, internal, or even biological, which we face in our everyday lives. Adding music and visuals often helps to identify one’s own feelings, and to highlight the various subtleties that make us human. With a dose of technology, there is an endless range of progress in human creative endeavours.

Kalli Retzepi

KALLI RETZEPI  is a designer and technologist, and a grad of the Media Lab at MIT. She uses technology, design and images in order to explore the politics of digital interfaces, the narrative of the user and to imagine new metaphors for the Web. She has presented her work in various institutions (MIT, NYU, Rutgers, New Museum) and conferences (Radical Networks, Interface Politics, Decentralized Web Summit) as well as print publications (Interface Critique). She is currently part of NEW INC’s Year 6 cohort and works as a freelancer in Brooklyn, NY.

Jerrold McGrath

JERROLD MCGRATH  explores how culture can play a more active role in complex systems challenges such as economic inequality, climate change, decolonization, and artificial intelligence. Following several years as a cultural consultant in the Japanese automotive industry, he served as the director of innovation at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, program director at Artscape Launchpad and continues to work with organizations and projects that span sectors and geographies. Jerrold writes on designing for interactions, systems thinking, and community development. He is a BMW Foundation Responsible Leader and a fellow of the RSA.

Lee Jones

LEE JONES is a PhD student at the Creative Interactions Lab at Carleton University. In her research, she uses participatory design and creates easy-to-use toolkits so that individuals can build prototypes and have a say in the direction their technologies go in. In her current project, she is developing a toolkit for prototyping wearable e-textiles.

This past summer she was a research fellow at Open Style Lab in New York developing sewing toolkits with individuals with disabilities so they can alter their own clothes to be more accessible without compromising style. She’s currently teaching Wearable Technology at EcoEquitable and has taught the graduate course on Body Centric Technologies at OCAD University. She also loves running e-textile workshops in makerspaces, art galleries, and community organizations under the name Electro-Stitches.

Aaron Casey

AARON CASEY is a 19 year old transgender man who loves playing video games and overworking himself because he is a busybody who hates staying still. As an artist, he enjoys working with large scale sculptural works or multi medium instillations, which are all interactive in some manner or entirely allowed to be touched by the audience. He tends to work mainly with metal or ceramic, although he is always open to broaden his horizons in terms of mediums. He hopes to invoke ideas of religious pantheons, sentience and otherworldliness in his work, in order to transport the audience into a new world. When working with media installations, he utilizes his coding knowledge in platforms like processing or C++ in order to further amplify the themes of his work, as well as broadening his knowledge of media platforms he can utilize. Aaron is always eager to collaborate with new people and eager to embrace a new project.

Michèle Champagne

MICHÈLE CHAMPAGNE is a designer who circulates between research, art direction and publication design. A Sandberg Institute graduate, she works with internationally recognized individuals and institutions to nurture responsible media cultures. In Canada and the Netherlands, she’s partnered with Artexte, Centre for Digital Rights, Droog, Estuaire, Mediamatic, Metahaven, Penguin Random House Canada, Strelka Institute and VPRO, a Dutch public broadcaster.

Michèle’s research focuses on the effects of positive psychology and happiness science on design, publishing and digital surveillance. She teaches sometimes, recently as guest professor at School of Design at University of Quebec in Montreal. She writes for Back Office, C Magazine, Failed Architecture, The Gradient and Volume. She currently lives in Montreal.

Izzie Colpitts-Campbell

IZZIE COLPITTS-CAMPBELL is an artist, designer and creative technologist whose work inhabits the interfaces between the body, leather and computational fashion. Her work explores gender and queer bodily experience primarily through hard/soft material juxtaposition and designing augmentations for bodily experience. Originally from Halifax NS, she now lives in Toronto and holds a BFA in software and electronic arts with a specialization in wearable technology from OCAD University.

Izzie’s creative praxis centres creating space to share and critically engage with technology, which is crucial to her own practice and that of her community. Through her work as president of Dames Making Games and member of the board at the Toronto Media Arts Centre, she is devoted to supporting and educating artists interested in software and electronic arts. She is a founding organizer of the game-art conference Damage Camp, now in its 3rd year running and has curated exhibits of game-art Internationally.

Izzie has been exhibiting work since 2008, most recently as part of Wired to Wear at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. She has given talks internationally on wearable tech, VR, tech-art, alternative education, community development and the points at which all these things intersect.

Emmanuel Madan

EMMANUEL MADAN is an artist who works with sound and technology and an organizer advocating on behalf of the Canadian media arts community. After training in electroacoustic music composition and work in the community radio sector, he has since 1997 devoted himself to an art practice that spans digital and electronic art, installation and performance, audio and video. He is a member of the collective [The User] which he co-founded with architect Thomas McIntosh. He previously served as a Program Officer at the Canada Council for the Arts and is currently National Director of IMAA.

Suzanne Kite

SUZANNE KITE is an Oglála Lakȟóta performance artist, visual artist, and composer raised in Southern California, with a BFA from CalArts in music composition, an MFA from Bard College’s Milton Avery Graduate School, and is a PhD candidate at Concordia University. Kite’s scholarship and practice highlights contemporary Lakota epistemologies through research-creation, computational media, and performance. Recently, Kite has been developing a body interface for movement performances, carbon fibre sculptures, immersive video and sound installations, as well as co-running the experimental electronic imprint, Unheard Records. For the inaugural 2019 Toronto Art Biennial, Kite, with Althea Thauberger, produced an installation, Call to Arms, which features audio and video recordings of their rehearsals with Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) York, which also consisted of a live performance with the conch shell sextet, who played the four musical scores composed by Kite. Kite has also published extensively in several journals and magazines, including in The Journal of Design and Science (MIT Press), where the award winning article, “Making Kin with Machines,” co-authored with Jason Lewis, Noelani Arista, and Archer Pechawis, was featured. Currently, she is a 2019 Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Scholar.

christine Swintak

christine SWINTAK is an interdisciplinary artist, educator and context-maker based in Montreal. Her past projects often involve large-scale installations built onsite and somehow integrated with the surrounding context. Examples include moving an entire house by hand without the aid of machinery, constructing the most banal roller coaster ever made in the head office of an energy drink corporation, building a full-size ship through collective improvisation, making a raft entirely of pants that crossed Toronto’s main shipping channel, attempting to give a shed consciousness, running an election campaign for fairies during the Irish referendum and drafting a series of both amoral and impossible project proposals. Her recent projects approach novel integrations of emerging technologies, including using non-invasive brain computer interfaces to animate art-administrator stress-controlled environments, harvesting the electricity from a single wall outlet to power a room-sized electro-magnetic instrument, creating a Nano-scale kinetic sculpture of a gold infinity symbol and designing shopping malls for outer space. Exhibited both nationally and internationally in a wide range of contexts, her projects have received recognitions including a Chalmers Fellowship, Untitled Arts Award, Cité Internationale Des Arts Residency Award, Taipei National University of Art Fellowship, and La Napoule Foundation Fellowship, and Headlands Centre for the Arts Fellowship and Alumni New Works Award.

As a context maker she has led a wide range of experimental pedagogical projects both within and outside of institutional frameworks, including acting as co-founder of Don Blanche, an experimental off-grid artist collective living artist residency situated on a sprawling 60-acre property powered by solar and wind energy. More recently, she co-founded 4TH SPACE at Concordia University, a 3,000 square foot street-level intersectorial research presentation venue that aims to foster sharing of ideas across disciplines.  As a curriculum developer she has led a range of activity-driven workshops, think tanks, University seminars and programs, most recently working with a range of Montreal-based groups and labs including Digital Mass Atrocity Prevention Lab, Critical Disability Working Group, Topological Media Lab, Milieux, and McGill University Health Centre Research Institute’s Brain Repair and Integrative Neuroscience Program (BRaIN). Her research has been supported by grants from funding bodies like Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Hexagram, Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, European Cultural Congress and Mondriaan Fund. She has a BFA from NSCAD University and MFA from Concordia, but does not have a website.