|This biographical article relies too much on references to primary sources. (March 2015)|
Stacey Spiegel is a Canadian artist, artistic director, and new media visionary. He is the co-founder of Parallel World Labs and its European counterpart PWLabs AS, and co-founder of the former Immersion Studios.
Life and work
Stacey Spiegel was born in Hespeler, Ontario, Canada. He attended Southwood Secondary School in Galt where his talent was recognized and encouraged by the late Gerry Weber, a passionate art teacher who inspired and mentored many to develop their talents. Southwood has recognized him for his accomplishments by electing him to their Hall of Fame in 2005. He attended York University in Toronto where he studied fine arts (BFA). He currently resides in Canada and Norway.
From 1985-1987, Spiegel was a fellow at the MIT Center for Advanced Visual Study, from where he moved on to become adjunct professor at the University of Toronto from 1992-1997. As a new media installation designer and artist, Spiegel worked early on with Dr. Rodney Hoinkes creating state-of-the-art digital installations at events such as DEAF (Dutch Electronic Arts Festival) in 1995 and 1996, Rotterdam City Festival (Safe Harbour, a harbour simulator of Marine Safety featuring a 360-degree Virtual Reality environment for experiencing the multicultural city of Rotterdam), MultiMediale, and Ars Electronica.
After years of exploring new media through art, in 1997 Spiegel joined with Hoinkes to start Immersion Studios (later renamed I-mmersion) to explore the potential of interactive films, theatres and classrooms. During the firm's existence from 1997–2006, I-mmersion was considered one of Canada's most innovative new media companies and a forerunner in the arena of social computing. Its products included the Immersion Cinema, a 180-degree HD digital cinema experience which has been installed in museums and science centres around the world, including Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota Florida, Discovery Center of Springfield Missouri, Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration in Connecticut, and The Smithsonian in Washington DC.
In 2006, Spiegel and Hoinkes re-structured their company under the name Parallel World Labs which operates in both Canada and Norway (the latter under the name PWLabs AS). PWLabs has produced numerous projects in Norway since 2006, including design of the Rockheim Museum of Pop and Rock Music in Trondheim, a popular cultural attraction which also received a nomination for European Museum of the Year 2012 -  [see also "Recent work"].
Since the mid-90s, Spiegel has produced and directed nearly 50 major interactive projects, including installations for the likes of The Smithsonian Museum, British Science Museum, the Department of Canadian Heritage, and EXPO 2005. Spiegel has also worked with renowned experts and scientists such as Dr. Robert Ballard, discoverer of the Titanic and founder and president of the Institute for Exploration at Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut, where he created the experience at the center of the groundbreaking Immersion Institute in 2002. The Immersion Institute employed the same robotics used in sea exploration, wiring Monterey National Marine Sanctuary (on the U.S. west coast) to Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration (on the U.S. east coast) through a live digital feed enabling visitors, for the first time ever, to explore the sanctuary remotely in real time.
In 2007 Spiegel was named the artistic director of Rockheim, the new national rock and pop museum in Norway which opened in August 2010 to critical and public acclaim. As with most of Spiegel's work, the museum experience includes a significant virtual component - Virtual Rockheim - as a co-creation tool for visitors.
Since 2010, Spiegel has consulted and produced projects for the IOC International Olympic Committee's Ethics Commission. His company creates and manages an educational transmedia campaign on integrity in sport which has been used at the 2010 Singapore Summer Youth Olympic Games, 2012 Innsbruck Winter Youth Olympic Games, 2012 London Summer Olympic Games, 2013 Asian Youth Games, 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games, and 2014 Nanjing Summer Youth Olympic Games.
In 2012 Spiegel also directed the interactive exhibits for the new visitor center for Norwegian national lottery Norsk Tipping's new visitor center, which opened to the public on 12.12.12.
Spiegel also designed a new multi-lens interactive tool for exploring art, called The Curiosity Engine, for the McMaster Museum of Art, which launched in 2012.
Spiegel has served as:
- New Media Advisor to the International Olympic Committee on Culture and Education for the Youth Olympic Games Singapore 2010.
- Director of Avatar Development for the A2E2]project of the Ambient Assisted Living Joint Programme, a joint research and development funding activity with the financial support of the European Community.
- Director of Industry Relations at the Center for Advanced Media Research in Amsterdam located at the VU University Amsterdam, where his work is focused on establishing commercial partnership opportunities that establish real world applications for the innovative academic research happening at the CAMeRA.
Other recent projects (2005–2008) include creative direction of the Canada Interactive Network / Virtual Canada for the Canada Pavilion at EXPO 2005 in Aichi, Japan; design and development of an interactive educational exhibit at W5 Discovery Centre in Belfast, Northern Ireland; design and development of “The Ledge”, an immersive large-format film part of the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre opened 2007 in County Clare, Ireland; and numerous other interactive installations and productions in Canada, USA, Australia, Europe, and Japan.
Spiegel has won numerous awards for his new media work, including a 2002 Electronic Multimedia Awards (EMMA) for Technical Excellence & Innovation; a 2002 Innovation Award from the Interactive Multimedia Arts & Technologies Association; a 2002 Canadian New Media Award for New Media Visionary, a 2000 Canadian New Media Awards nomination for Company of the Year, and two Golden Reel nominations as producer/director. In the fine arts, he is a winner of the Bernice Adams Memorial Arts Award and a recipient of grants from the Canada Council and Ontario Arts Council. His immersive large format film "The Ledge" and interactive "predator and prey" game at the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Center in Ireland were part of the highly acclaimed exhibition that won an Interpret Britain & Ireland Award 2007 from the Association of Heritage Interpretation. In 2014 Spiegel's interactive installation at St.Olav's Hospital in Trondheim Norway won the International Academy for Design & Health's award for "Product Design: Healthcare Application".
Maintaining ties to education and art, Spiegel has also continued working closely with post-secondary institutions around the world. For several years, Spiegel collaborated with the Annenberg School at the University of Southern California in a study on the impact of interactivity in learning among children, and installed "Immersion labs” in post-secondary institutions such as Harvard University, University of Toronto, and Sheridan College. He has also penned the foreword for two textbooks on video games, guest-lectured at the University of Queensland, Australia, and has appeared as keynote or guest speaker at numerous international events, including the Australasian Conference on Interactive Entertainment, Trondheim Matchmaking (an annual international festival for electronic arts and new technology), the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney (Australia's largest and most popular museum), SIGGRAPH Toronto, DEAF Netherlands, and the USC Annenberg Workshop on Games for Learning, Development & Change.
In 2006, Stacey Spiegel and Dr. Rodney Hoinkes presented a talk titled “The Evolution of Real and Virtual Communities” at the University of Toronto. In October 2007 Spiegel inspired an international symposium at the University of Western Ontario called "Playing the Gallery: The art of games", which focused on understanding issues between virtual reality and the implications for social change and technology-driven environments for creative expression. In the mid-1990s, Spiegel was an Adjunct Professor at the University of Toronto. He is currently an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Software Engineering and Game Design at McMaster University.
In addition to his work in the business, education and art of new media, Spiegel is also a renowned artist "whose thesis on the mechanisation of nature informs his multidisciplinary work". His sculptures and computer-based artworks have been exhibited in many international venues at more than 35 solo exhibitions and 14 group exhibitions, and are included in both public and private collections, and in the permanent collections of over 22 galleries and museums including the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Ontario.
Aside from creating and exhibiting artworks internationally, Spiegel has also been an Artist-in-Residence in a number of prestigious institutions, including Cité des Arts in Paris; the Zentrum for Kunst and Medientechnologie, Karlsruhe, Germany; the Banff Centre's New Media Centre in Banff, Alberta; the Museum of Science and Technology in Hull, Quebec; and a MIT fellow at the Center for Advanced Visual Study.
Some of Spiegel's location-based installations are viewable in Toronto. Toronto's Sheppard-Yonge subway station features "Immersion Land", a mosaic composed of 1.5 million one-inch tiles, which has been called one of the top five public art installations in the Toronto Transit system. The installation was developed from a digitized and pixilated blend of 150 photographs depicting lush landscapes, country homes, and rural scenes from Yonge Street as it stretches towards North Bay. Another of his installations is nestled in a courtyard near the intersection of Yonge and Adelaide Street East: a collection of eclectic, sculptural water fountains called "Synthetic Eden".