SURGES is an online ecosystem of seven virtual environments presented by IOTA Institute in partnership with VUCAVU. This project invites artists to design online exhibition spaces with technical support, to create experiences for audiences beyond linear visual aesthetics. Artworks explore vibrational haptics, interactive instruments, 360 video, and augmented reality to create multisensory online experiences and encounters. 

These solo exhibitions explore the potential of virtual arts spaces for the presentation of artworks that are in progress, in beta, in the midst of perpetual creation. Unveiled in seven sequential launches throughout 2023, each surge is an artist-led designed space by: Carrie Allison, Jordan Bennett, Amanda Dawn Christie, Séamus Gallagher, Ruth Marsh, Lou Sheppard, and Jennifer Willet

Selected artworks are accessible on mobile devices or desktop only. Prompts and access notes will guide users through each environment.

Visit to explore the artworks and detailed access notes.

Carrie Allison: Buffalo Rising, February 16th, 2023
Lou Sheppard: Lonely Hearts Call, March 9th, 2023
Ruth Marsh: Mycelial Dimension, March 30th, 2023
Amanda Dawn Christie: DX Drone Machine, Coming Soon
Jordan Bennett: Remembering Her VoiceComing Soon
Jennifer Willet, Coming Soon
Séamus Gallagher: WHOLE NEW WORLD/FOR SOPHIE, Coming Soon


Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising is an Augmented Reality piece that imagines the buffalo returning to all landscapes; prairies, urban, rural, and seascapes. In the late 1800s the buffalo were slaughtered in both the United States and Canada as a way to starve Indigenous Nations into submission, or straight up genocide. Buffalo Rising features seven beaded, felted, and tufted buffalos that roam your immediate landscape through your screen. 


Lonely Hearts Call

Lonely Hearts Call is an interactive phone application that allows you to experience a morse code message as light flashes and vibrations. As queer people, language that describes our identities and our bodies can be liberating - a moment of recognition, or violent - an erasure of our identity. Lonely Hearts Call shows how language can betray us - we are exposed by the flashing light, our bodies shaken by the vibrations of the morse code message. But language can also make us - the light revealing our bodies on a dance floor, the bass of a dance track aligning or breathing and heart beats. Amid rising violence towards queer people and the loss of queer spaces from our communities Lonely Hearts Call is both a lament and a call to connect. 


Mycelial Dimension

Entangle your tender mushroom hyphae with the soul of the universe and enter the Mycelial Dimension. 


DX Drone Machine

This contemplative interactive musical web instrument is built upon a library of contact microphone recordings from the RCI (Radio Canada International) radio towers, that can be played in real time by multiple people from around the globe. Just as EM waves are not constrained by the boundaries of nation states, this project invites people from various parts of the globe to play together across borders, conjuring the ghosts of radio towers and contemplating the molecular memory of that metal.


Remembering Her Voice

In this augmented reality piece Jordan invites you to come sit at his grandmother’s table. For him this was a place to learn, reflect and grow. He learned so many stories while visiting his Nan over games of radio bingo, cups of tea, moose pie, tea buns and even rolling cigarettes. This piece brings one of Jordan’s circular paintings to life and provides a deeper look into the usual 2D pieces he is known for. 





WHOLE NEW WORLD/FOR SOPHIE is dedicated to the late artist SOPHIE. It is about finding and creating new worlds, as well as a rumination on collective mourning.




Carrie Allison is a nêhiýaw/cree, Métis, and European descent visual artist based in K’jipuktuk (Halifax, Nova Scotia). She grew up on the unceded and unsurrendered lands of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations. Allison’s maternal roots are based in maskotewisipiy (High Prairie, Alberta), Treaty 8. Situated in K’jipuktuk since 2010, Allison’s practice responds to her maternal Nêhiýaw/Cree and Métis ancestry. In early 2019 Allison completed the Center For Art Tapes Media Scholarship and was also one of four mentees in the Visual Arts Nova Scotia Mentorship Program, where she worked with Ursula Johnson. She has completed residencies at The Natural History Museum supported by Eyelevel ARC, NSCAD’s Studio Residency in Lunenburg and Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery. In the summer of 2019 Allison had three solo exhibitions at The Owens Art Gallery in Sackville, NB, Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery in Halifax, NS, and The New Gallery in Calgary, AB. In 2019, Allison also participated in Plug-In’s Summer Institute, Indigenous Architectures, Glam Collective’s Memory Keeper II, Eastern Edge’s Land-Based Residency and the Banff Centre’s Craft as Contemporary Art. Currently Allison has work in the Textile Museum of Canada’s exhibition Wild! and the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, as well as Urban Shaman in February 2020. Allison holds a Master in Fine Art, a Bachelor in Fine Art and a Bachelor in Art History from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University (NSCAD). Allison has performed and exhibited throughout the Maritimes and has received grants from Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Arts Nova Scotia, and Canada Council for the Arts. Allison’s work has been collected by The Owens Art Gallery and Saint Mary’s Art Gallery, as well as private collectors. Allison is the recipient of the Textile Museum of Canada’s Mellissa Levin Emerging Artist Award 2020, and she was long listed for the Sobey Art Award in 2021.

Location: Dartmouth, NS 
Artist Website
Artist Page on IOTA 's Website


Jordan's ongoing practice utilizes painting, sculpture, video, installation and sound to explore land, language, the act of visiting, familial histories and challenging colonial perceptions of indigenous histories, stereotypes and presence with a focus on exploring Mi’kmaq and Beothuk visual culture of Ktaqamkuk. In the past 10 years Jordan has participated in over 75 group and solo exhibitions nationally and internationally. He has been the recipient of several awards and honours, a Hnatyshan Foundation REVEAL award, presented with the 2014 Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Councils Artist of the Year and named as one of the artists in the 2014 Blouin ARTINFO's Top 30 under 30 in Canada. Most notably he has been long listed for the 2015 and 2016 Sobey Art Award, was shortlisted for the 2018 Awards and was a long list winner in 2020. The artist is a 2019 recipient of the Van Houtte Masters’ Fund Program, is partnered with IOTA Studio Gallery, and working on several projects with various artistic collaborations, including a recently revealed public art commission for the Zatzman Sportsplex in Dartmouth, NS. His 100-foot installation “Tepkik,” highlighted in the National Art Gallery of Canada for the 2019 exhibition “Àbadakone,” was the 2020 winner of the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia Masterworks Arts Award.

Location: Ktaqmkuk
Artist Website
Artist Page on IOTA 's Website


Amanda Dawn Christie is an interdisciplinary new media artist who makes film, installation, performance, and transmission artworks. She completed her MFA at the SFU School for the Contemporary Arts in Vancouver, and formerly held the position of Assistant Professor in Studio Art: Intermedia (Video, Performance, and Electronic Arts) at Concordia University in Montreal. Her work explores the relationship between the human body and analogue technology in a digital age, and has been presented on five continents including places such as New York, San Francisco, Cannes, Seoul, Buenos Aires, Africa, Australia, and in the Arctic. Christie’s films have screened at numerous major festivals such as the Rotterdam International Film Festival, the Oberhausen Short Film Festival, and Cannes, and have been presented by prestigious institutions such as the Canadian Film Institute, Cinémathèque Québécoise, MuMa Box at the Musée d’art Moderne in Le Havre, and the Millenium Film Workshop in New York. 
Her transmission artworks have been broadcast by Wave Farm, Radio Web MACBA (Contemporary Art Museum of Barcelona), the BBC, the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), NAISA (New Adventures in Sound Art), and many other public, community, commercial, non-profit, pirate, AM, FM, and international shortwave stations. Christie’s transmission practice has been profiled by IEEE Spectrum (International Electronic and Electrical Engineering journal), and presented at the Circle of HOPE (Hackers on Planet Earth) in New York, among other technology-driven institutions. Christie has also worked with US military physicists on a transmission artwork using HAARP—the world’s largest Ionospheric Research Instrument.

Location: Moncton, NB
Artist Website 
Artist Website
Artist Page on IOTA 's Website 
Artist page on VUCAVU


Séamus Gallagher is a non-binary media artist originally from Moncton, New Brunswick and currently based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. They often work in photography and virtual reality, focusing on queer culture through the use of computer technologies. They are a recent NSCAD University graduate with a double major in Photography and Expanded Media (BFA 2019). Their work has shown in exhibitions and festivals across Canada, as well as in Los Angeles, and Switzerland.
Gallagher’s interest in recent years has been combining elements of drag and video games, examining the fantastical embodiment integral to each art form. They have developed a process of digitally modelling drag-influenced masks, costumes, headpieces, and breastplates which they then convert into paper templates to construct physically. Throughout their recent photography, video, and virtual reality work, they have heavily incorporated these paper models as a means of integrating digital aesthetics into a physical space.
Gallagher’s most recent bodies of work include “haus of haraway”, a virtual reality project completed in 2018. The project has been exhibited at the Locarno Film Festival, the Halifax Independent Filmmakers Festival, the Lunenburg Doc Fest, and was selected as the regional winner for the 2019 BMO 1st Art! Award. Gallagher has been the recipient of many awards and scholarships, such as the 2018 Starfish Student Awards, the 2018 Roloff Beny Scholarship, and the 2017 AIMIA | AGO Photography Scholarship. They were also recently longlisted for the 2019 Scotiabank New Generation Photography Award.

​Location: Halifax, NS
Artist Website
Artist Page on IOTA 's Website


Ruth is a Canadian multidisciplinary artist of settler ancestry based out of Kjipuktuk (Halifax, NS, Canada). Their practice employs an absurdist approach which seeks to queer the intersections between DIY culture, art making, and science fact/fiction/fabulation to address memory, healing, and cybernetic interconnection in both bodies and environments. They approach their practice from a perspective which is part mad scientist and part devoted repair technician and through processes which are inherently labour intensive, repetitive, and painstaking. They are interested in playfully exploring the ways in which modalities of labour can translate into a study of both enacted care and hopeful mourning.

Location: Halifax, NS 
Artist Website
Artist Page on IOTA 's Website


Headshot credit: Samson Learn

Lou Sheppard’s work is responsive, investigating the material and discursive contexts of a site and their affect on bodies and environments. His research is evidenced through graphic notations, scripts and scores which are then performed in collaboration with other artists and in community gatherings. He has participated in numerous residencies, including the International Studio Curatorial Program, La Cité des Arts, and as faculty at The Banff Centre. Lou’s work has been included in the Toronto Biennial and the Antarctic Biennial and he is currently completing a public art commission for the Broadway Subway Project in Vancouver. Lou has had solo exhibitions at the Art Gallery of York University (ON), Saint Mary’s University Art Gallery (NS), Access Gallery (BC), Diagonale Centre for Arts and Fibres (PQ) and has participated in dual and group exhibitions at Dalhousie University (NS), Simon Fraser University (BC) and Titanik Gallery (Finland) among others. Lou is a settler on the traditional and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq in Mi’kma’ki/Nova Scotia.

Location: Nova Scotia 
Artist Website
Artist Page on IOTA 's Website
Instagram: @shep_shape


Dr. Jennifer Willet is the Director of INCUBATOR Lab and a Canada Research Chair in Art, Science and Ecology at the University of Windsor. She is also a member of the College of New Scholars, Artists, and Scientists of the Royal Society of Canada. Willet is an internationally recognized artist and curator in the emerging field of BioArt. Her research resides at the intersection of art and science, and explores notions of representation, the body, ecologies, and interspecies interrelations in the biotechnological field. She engages in performance, installation, photography and sculpture based artistic practices, community arts and social practice, and philosophy of science, media studies, science and technology studies, combined with protocols and life forms from the biological sciences.
She taught in Studio Arts at Concordia University (2000-2007) and at the Art and Genomics Centre at the University of Leiden (2008) in the Netherlands, and now works as an Associate Professor in the School of Creative Arts, at The University of Windsor. In 2009 she opened the first biological art lab in Canada, called INCUBATOR: Hybrid Laboratory at the Intersection of Art, Science, and Ecology. In January 2018 INCUBATOR Lab launched a new custom-built BSL2 facility that is both a functional biotech laboratory and a multi-media theatre and exhibition venue. This internationally unique facility includes a glass wall opening to a large atrium, theatrical lighting, sound and video capabilities, to enable live and online viewing of biotechnology/artworks and performances. In 2020 Willet will launch a parallel space INCUBATOR Studio, an artist studio, community engagement hub and BSL1 bioart facility in a downtown storefront in Windsor.

Location: Windsor, ON
Artist Page on IOTA 's Website 


IOTA ( is a creative agency that supports artists working in trans-disciplinary fields touching on new media, the web, visual, interactive and performance art through arts management, artwork sales, and the project management of large-scale public artwork projects. We aim to create an environment that fosters transparent working relationships, and a complete focus on the well-being of our artists’ careers. IOTA Studio Gallery follows our artists’ lead when developing career strategies and developing their presence in the art market.


Curatorial support: Mireille Bourgeois & Amanda Shore
Graphic Design: Sébastien Aubin
Accessibility Design: Kristina McMullin
Web Development: Seva Ivanov

Surges is presented by IOTA Institute in partnership with VUCAVU, with the financial support of Arts Nova Scotia and Canada Council for the Arts.