Speculative Life





Speculative Life Cluster is speculative design research cluster at the intersection of art and the life sciences, architecture and design, and computational media.

Our research group is unique in Milieux Institute for Art, Technology and Culture 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 complexity and futurity. We engage with the entire ecology of technologies and foster creative ways to think about the future of the planetary scale transformations currently occurring as a result of human action and technical developments.

Our group aims to create a space where individuals working from molecular biology to large-scale technical, urban, and logistical infrastructures can share ideas and practices, and confront the complexities and challenges of living in a networked planet where the impact of new technologies is often sensed and felt not only locally, but globally.

These are the three areas of concern that will explored this coming year by cluster members:

  • The human ability to perceive of life and living systems through a multiplicity of scales from the molecular, cellular, global and universal is assisted by new imaging and data collection technologies. How might emerging technologies develop a greater sense of agency, interconnectivity and sense perception between life forms and living systems- human and non-human- agents within the technosphere?
  • New emerging “disruptive technologies” may develop alternatives for a more robust understanding of interspecies relations, energy efficacy and social efficiency in the shifting geopolitical map of the planet. How might artists designers, and humanities scholars generate new methods of critique and critical engagement with such technologies- usually regulated to the applied sciences- in order to consider the societal, cultural, environmental and ethical implications and impact of such technologies?
  • The study of large-scale technical infrastructures, futurity, and politics. We are currently developing one of the first large scale collaborative research projects integrating arts and design, the social sciences, and media studies, to conduct multi-sited artistic, ethnographic, philosophical, and historical research and creation on the material ways that designers, researchers and entrepreneurs negotiate the future, and translate ideas of life, speculation, and temporality into technology and the built environment at massive scale, with a focus on urban, logistical, and energy infrastructures. In collaboration with scholars, designers, and artists across the world from North America, Europe, South and East Asia, we are setting up a platform to collaboratively work together to develop new methods and practices by which to study the impact of technology at a planetary scale. To do so, this project systematically examines a series of “prototype” high- technology, capital intensive sites, ranging from “smart” and “green” cities to oil extraction platforms to data centers where the future of planetary life is being envisioned and crafted.


Tagny Duff Associate Professor
Department of Communications

Orit Halpern Associate Professor
Department of Sociology and Anthropology


Quick Facts

Director: Bart Simon

Number of research clusters: 7

Number of faculty and principal investigators: 80

Number of graduate students: 120

Facilities: gaming lab; wet/dry maker lab; interactive textiles production studios, photography and image making; virtual reality and immersive studios; mobilities lab; student lounge; collab/cowork spaces; black box and conference spaces

Location: Montreal, Canada

Become a member!

Interested in becoming a member of Milieux? Reach out directly to the relevant cluster leader.