Diane Gromala

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  • ISEA2015

    Diane Gromala,  Ph.D. (born 1960) is a Canada Research Chair and a Professor in the Simon Fraser University School of Interactive Arts and Technology. Her research works at the confluence of computer science, media art and design, and has focused on the cultural, visceral, and embodied implications of digital technologies, particularly in the realm of chronic pain. Dr. Gromala was one of the first artists to work with immersive virtual reality, beginning with Dancing with the Virtual Dervish, co-created with Yacov Sharir in 1990. From that time, she has co-founded transdisciplinary graduate and undergraduate programs four universities in North America, and two in New Zealand. Currently, she is the Founding Director of the Chronic Pain Research Institute, a transdisciplinary team of artists, designers, computer scientists, neuroscientists and medical doctors investigating how new technologies — ranging from virtual reality and wearables to robotics to social media — may be used as a technological form of analgesia and pain management. With Jay Bolter, Gromala is the co-author of Windows and Mirrors: Interaction Design, Digital Art and the Myth of Transparency. Her work is widely published in the domains of Computer and Health Science, Interactive Art and Design.

    Diane Gromala, Professor and Canada Research Chair, School of Interactive Arts and Technology, Simon Fraser University, BC, Canada. Diane is the Canada Research Chair in Computational Technologies for Transforming Pain and a Professor in SFU’s (Simon Fraser University’s) School of Interactive Arts and Technology. Her research works at the confluence of computer science, media art and design, and is focused on the cultural, visceral, and embodied implications of digital technologies, particularly in the realm of chronic pain. Gromala was one of the artists in the Art & Virtual Environments residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts from 1991-1993, and has been pursuing VR and other ways of transforming bodily experience (such as biomorphic typography; interactive books made of meat; and speculative wearables impregnated with things she grows, accompanied by Edgar and Hector, her crows) since that time. Since 1990, Gromala has co-created 7 interdisciplinary (art + science + cultural theory) grad and undergrad curricula at UTexas, USA, UW Seattle, USA, Georgia Tech, USA, Waikato University & Wanganui Polytechnic (New Zealand) and SIAT. People might want to talk to me about pain, perceptual and embodied transformation, pharmakon, working with physicians and health scientists, art+science, and/or ontological shenanigans. Or what it’s like to be older than dirt, to misspend one’s youth in the Silicon Valley, or to conduct ethnographic field studies of venture capitalists on the down-lo.


    Diane Gro­mala is an artist, de­signer, cu­ra­tor, and cul­tural critic. Her work has been at the fore­front of emerg­ing forms of tech­nol­ogy, from the ear­li­est form of mul­ti­me­dia (Hy­per­Card, at Apple Com­puter) to one of the very first in­stances of Vir­tual Re­al­ity art  at the Banff Cen­tre in 1991. Gro­mala’s cur­rent focus  is on phys­i­o­log­i­cal com­put­ing and bio­me­dia.  Gro­mala’s art­work has been per­formed and ex­hib­ited in  North Amer­ica, Eu­rope, the Mid­dle East, Asia and New Zealand.  It has also been fea­tured on the Dis­cov­ery Chan­nel, CNN,  the BBC, the New York Times, the Los An­ge­les Times, to name a few.  Along with col­lab­o­ra­tor Lily Shir­va­nee, Gro­mala was a semi-fi­nal­ist  for Dis­cover mag­a­zine’s Award for Tech­no­log­i­cal In­no­va­tion in 2001. Gro­mala’s de­sign work has re­ceived nu­mer­ous awards from or­ga­ni­za­tions rang­ing from the AIGA to the Amer­i­can In­sti­tute of Ar­chi­tects.  With Jay David Bolter, Gro­mala is au­thor of  Win­dows and Mir­rors: Elec­tronic Art, De­sign, and the Myth of Trans­parency.  Pub­lished by the MIT Press, this book re­ex­am­ines the is­sues of  human com­puter in­ter­ac­tion and in­ter­face de­sign from the  per­spec­tive of media and cul­tural the­ory. Gro­mala’s jour­nal ar­ti­cles have been pub­lished in nu­mer­ous , peer-re­viewed con­fer­ences in in­ter­ac­tive art, de­sign, and com­puter sci­ence, and have been trans­lated into over 10 lan­guages.  Gro­mala has been teach­ing full time since 1990. She has held po­si­tions and de­vel­oped new cur­ric­ula in the Col­lege of Fine Arts at the Uni­ver­sity of Texas,  the School of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions at the Uni­ver­sity of Wash­ing­ton,  and the School of Lit­er­a­ture, Com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and Cul­ture  at Geor­gia Tech. Gro­mala has also taught classes at Wan­ganui Poly­tech­nic in New Zealand and Ox­ford Uni­ver­sity in Eng­land, and has been a mem­ber of Com­puter Sci­ence and En­gi­neer­ing re­search labs, in­clud­ing the HIT­Lab and GVU and is cur­rently the Canada Re­search Chair and an as­so­ci­ate pro­fes­sor at Simon Fraser Uni­ver­sity, School of In­ter­ac­tive Arts & Tech­nol­ogy.  Gro­mala has served on the Ed­i­to­r­ial Board of Post­mod­ern Cul­ture  and is cur­rently on the ed­i­to­r­ial boards of Vi­sual Com­mu­ni­ca­tion and  Leonardo Re­views. In the year 2000, Gro­mala was elected  Chair of SIG­GRAPH’s Art Gallery and named Chair of the United Na­tions’  (UN­ESCO) Art, Sci­ence & Tech­nol­ogy ini­tia­tive in 2002. As a Senior Ful­bright Fel­low, Gro­mala helped cre­ate a new joint pro­gram  in Human Com­puter In­ter­ac­tion De­sign at Wan­ganui Poly­tech­nic and Waikato Uni­ver­sity in New Zealand.  Through­out the 1980s, Diane Gro­mala worked as a de­signer and art di­rec­tor in the cor­po­rate realm, in­clud­ing Apple Com­puter, Inc.  Her post­grad stud­ies were in the Plan­e­tary Col­legium (for­merly CAIIA STAR) at the Uni­ver­sity of Ply­mouth in Eng­land. Her un­der­grad­u­ate and grad­u­ate de­grees are from the Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan and Yale Uni­ver­sity, re­spec­tively.


    Research Chair Dr. Diane Gromala teaches in the School of Interactive Arts & Technology at Simon Fraser University, Canada. Gromala’s work has been exhibited and published worldwide and is in use at over 20 hospitals and clinics.


    Diane Gromala [& Jay David Bolder] have been trying to bring together the practical and the theoretical in their own work and pedagogical practices. Diane Gromala examines so-called critical art and critical technology practices, as well as attendant pedagogical strategies Jay Bolter’s historical study, conducted with Richard Grusin, argues that new media refashion or ‘remediate’ earlier media. Through their own work and class-room trials, they will suggest ways in which seemingly abstract historical and critical theories might have a practical influence on new media design and pedagogy. Art Gallery Chair for SIGGRAPH 2000.


    Diane Gromala is Director of the New Media Research Lab at the University of Washington in Seattle. She teaches cross-disciplinary courses in New Media. Her most recent VR research is with the Human Interface Technology Lab.

Last Known Location:

  • Canada

Previous Location(s):

  • US

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