Dr. Roberta Buiani


Video of the Researcher




Full name

Dr. Roberta Buiani


Characterizing new life forms that at the moment have not been recognized or have been ignored by both the arts and the sciences in order to help scientists to communicate concepts outside of their own traditional academic domain

Type of researcher


Introduce yourself, your experience and your credentials

Roberta Buiani is an interdisciplinary artist, media scholar and curator based in Toronto. She is the co-founder of the ArtSci Salon at the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences (Toronto) and a co-organizer of LASER Toronto. Her research-creation work is mobile, itinerant and collaborative, exploring how scientific and technological mechanisms translate and transform the natural and human world, and what happens when they are taken outside of their traditional context and relocated through artistic and cartographic practices. Her work was exhibited in Toronto at the Ryerson University Faculty of Architecture and Artscape Youngspace; and was featured at Transmediale, the Hemispheric Institute Encuentro, Immigrant Movement International (Queens), and RPI among other. Recently, she has launched a series of curatorial experiments in “squatting academia”, aiming at repopulating abandoned spaces inside the university with collaborative works in art and science and at filling formal spaces of research with site-specific installations and performances. She teaches communication and cultural studies at York University. For more go to atomarborea.net.

Describe your research

In 2012, I founded the ArtSci Salon together with Stephen Morris. He is a professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Toronto. We felt that it was time to explore collaborations between artists and scientists, where scientists and artists would actually benefit from each others’ research.

So my current research is called “Emergent: Copping with New Categories and Complex Phenomena”. The focus of this research is on new categories of the living.

So first, those organisms or forms of living that are emerging from information technologies, and I call them digital chimeras. These digital chimeras new are coming from new development in artificial intelligence or new developments in even augmented reality or virtual reality.

Our second thematic guideline is what I call the genetically manipulated monsters that is those organisms that are created in the lab such as synthetic bacteria or GMO mosquitoes or oncolytic viruses. All of these are new categories, new organisms. These are not from nature but from the lab.

A third and last one is made up of those organisms that are mutated. Those organisms that we can find in nature, but that anthropogenic interventions or climate change have mutated so much that they become something else.

All of these categories that I identified form three thematic guidelines leading to a series of questions and one main question is how is the emergence of these new lifeforms challenging traditional research methods and existing disciplinary boundaries. And how can research based on artistic practice and on collaboration across science and the arts help produce new ones.

Explain its significance

The result has different benefits. It can reveal aspects characterizing new life forms that at the moment have not been recognized or have been ignored by both the arts and the sciences, but it also has enormous implications for the ability of science to communicate concepts outside of their own traditional academic domain. And the same can be said with the arts and the humanities because we can’t just speak to our own folks.

The other benefit is to give an opportunity for the arts and sciences to actually join forces and to formulate new forms of research and new research methods.


Institution name

York University

Type of institution



Art, entertainment and recreation

Performing arts, spectator sports and related industries