Associate Director Graduate Studies, Stratford | Associate Professor, Hybrid Media, Stratford/Fine Arts

Jessica ThompsonJessica Thompson is a media artist whose practice investigates urban environments through interactive artworks situated at the intersection of sound, performance and mobile technologies. Her current research investigates the ways that sound reveals spatial and social conditions within cities and how these conditions may be articulated through networked performance, gestural interaction and data visualization. Before coming to Waterloo, Thompson taught courses in sound, media and urban practice in the Department of Visual Art at Brock University and the Department of Media Study at SUNY at Buffalo.

Notable artworks include ‘walking machine’ that articulates the relationship between body and site through a wearable device that enables users to move through urban areas hearing the amplified sound of their own footsteps, ‘SOUNDBIKE’, a mobile device that broadcasts laughter as it is pedaled through urban environments, creating a human counterpoint to the acoustic ecology of the city, ‘Freestyle SoundKit’ which facilitates social situations between performers and passersby by infusing footsteps with electronic bass beats, and ‘Swinging Suitcase’ a device that generates and broadcasts the sound of a flock of birds in response to movement.

Her work has shown in exhibitions and festivals such as the International Symposium of Electronic Art (San Jose, Dubai, Vancouver), the Conflux Festival (New York), Thinking Metropolis (Copenhagen), (in)visible Cities (Winnipeg), Beyond/In Western New York (Buffalo), New Interfaces in Musical Expression (Oslo), Audible Edifices (Hong Kong), Artists’ Walks (New York) and Locus Sonus (Aix-en-Provence), as well as publications such as Canadian Art, c Magazine, Acoustic Territories (Continuum Books), the Leonardo Music Journal, and numerous art, design and technology blogs. 

For over 15 years, she held administrative and managerial positions in both the corporate and not-for-profits sectors, including academic administration, marketing and fundraising, and project management. She is a member of the Board of Directors at InterAccess, an art gallery, educational facility and production studio dedicated to the creative use of technology, electronic art and new media culture.

Courses taught

  • DEI 613: Digital Media Design Solutions 1: Design Principles and Practice, Fall 2016
  • GBDA 202: Digital Media Project 2, Winter 2014/2015


  • MFA Media Study, SUNY at Buffalo, 2011 (Emerging Practices)
  • BFA Spec. Hons. Visual Art, York University, 1998 (Painting/Sculpture)

Research and teaching interests

  • Sound Studies
  • Mobile Interfaces
  • Locative Media
  • Wearable Media
  • Design Thinking

Selected publications

  • Triangulation Device is a mobile application that enables pairs of users to collaboratively generate improvised soundscapes in public spaces. Using a simple, intuitive Android application, the piece transcodes the distance between users into atmospheric soundscapes that unfold and change in response to movement, creating idiosyncratic choreographies. 

  • Borderline investigates the role of sound in community formation, particularly in areas currently undergoing rapid social change. The core of this research focuses on the creation of a mobile application that enables users to re-map the city through the creation of alternative sonic geographies.

​Presentations and Exhibitions

Please see CV.

Awards and honours

  • SSHRC Institutional Grant, University of Waterloo (2016)
  • Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI), Innovation Fund, 'Facility for Fully Interactive Physio-digital Spaces' (with Dan Vogel, Ed Lank, Michael Terry and Jane Tingley) (2015)
  • Lois Claxton Humanities and Social Sciences Award, University of Waterloo (2014)
Triangulation Device (2013)
Triangulation Device (2013)

Arduino boards, GPS receivers, xBees, MIDI shields, headphones, electronic components

Triangulation Device at the Locus Sonus Symposium, Aix-en-Provence, France. 
 Scajaquada Creek (2010)
Drawing a Line: Scajaquada Creek (2010)


Retracing buried section of Scajaquada Creek with push broom and creek water, Buffalo, NY
Swinging Suitcase (2010)
Swinging Suitcase (2010)

Suitcases, Arduino boards, waveshields, accelerometers, soundtracks

Signaling birds, Toronto, 2013
Networked Derive (#ntwkder) (2010)
Networked Derive (#ntwkder) (2010)

Live performance between two geographically-separate locations

Twitter stream for Networked Derive 1 between the University at Buffalo and the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, 2010
Give it Up (2007, 2008)
Give it Up (2007, 2008)

Live performance between two locations with networked video streams and audio streams

Breakdance Battle, Buffalo vs. Toronto, 2007
Freestyle SoundKit (2006)
Freestyle SoundKit (2006)

Body-mounted sensors, sound module, amplifier, speaker

Soundkit Performance, Brooklyn, 2006
Soundbike (2005 --)
Soundbike (2005 --)

Bicycle, microcontrollers, sound modules, speakers

Soundbike test run, Toronto, 2004
walking machine (2003)
walking machine (2003)

Omni-directional lapel microphones, amplifier, headphones

walking machine walks at the Conflux Festival, New York, 2004

Connect with Jessica

Email icon
Phone icon   519-888-4567, ext. 23023
Office icon  ECH 207 / DMS 2006
Website icon   Jessica Thompson
PDF Icon  Curriculum Vitae

University of Waterloo

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