Claude Fortin

Portrait of Claude FortinClaude Fortin joined the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Montreal over the summer of 2018. Her engagement with urban interaction design builds on academic studies in science and technology, the social sciences, the humanities and the fine arts. Claude is a 2015 alumna of the Making Culture Lab, an applied design research studio housed in Simon Fraser University’s School of Interactive Arts & Technology, her alma mater– and throughout her doctoral training, she became a Highly Qualified Personnel (HQP) in Canada’s former Digital Media GRAND Network of Centres of Excellence. As a design ethnographer in user experiences, social affordances and hybrid space, her research interests intersect with CIRM’s six action-research axes.

Research profile

The objective of Claude’s research is to evaluate the untapped potential and anticipated social impacts of digital practices within the City of Montreal, and by extension, their resonance in cities beyond. As a practitioner of collaborative methodologies, Claude collects data to, on the one hand, report on field observations concerned with aspects of human-computer interaction (HCI) in regards to the design of such experiences in hybrid space, and on the other hand, strive to optimize technology design by using qualitative methods to bridge the gap between the needs of the end users and the expert knowledge of other concerned stakeholders.

An emerging scholar at CIRM, she is developing research partnerships with Montreal-based stakeholders to study local expressions of digital social innovations (DSI) through the following research programs:

  • the study of new forms of dynamic digital displays that have been designed as digital components embedded into smart monuments in urban settings;
  • an inquiry of some of the opportunities and challenges that monumental Big Data visualizations present in public space when they are examined as rhetorical objects of study that are interactive and automated;
  • research-creation projects that aim to make emerging technologies and platforms more inclusive and easier to use through free play and creative appropriations/interactions in hybrid public space.


In 2014, Claude took part in masterclasses given by George Marcus (UC, Irvine) and Paul Carter (RMIT) at the University of Melbourne, in Australia. Following that training, she has honed her skills as a multi-sited design ethnographer by applying it to the field of human-computer interaction (HCI), an approach advocated by anthropologist, Geneviève Bell (3A, Intel), and pioneered by computer scientist, Paul Dourish (UC, Irvine). In this research process, stakeholders with diverging interests are treated as epistemic partners that can each fully contribute to knowledge co-production, synthesis, mobilization and application.

As a result, in the course of her fieldwork, Claude acts first and foremost as a knowledge broker who exchanges the collected data and its interpretations with the different stakeholders through analyses, written reports, audio-visual presentations and participation in related events. Furthermore, as is evidenced in certain of her publications, Claude also uses research results to expound concepts and theoretical frameworks in order to better illuminate technological innovations as they rapidly take on new forms.

Prior to her arrival at CIRM, Claude was principal investigator in two research projects on urban technologies: the first was funded by Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture (FQRSC) from 2015 to 2016, and the second by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) from 2016 to 2018. Both were undertaken at McGill University’s Department of Art History and Communication.

From 2011 to 2015, during her SSHRC-funded doctoral program of study, Claude led a field study on interactive installations deployed in Montreal’s Quartier des Spectacles” in collaboration with a number of public and private organizations established in that city. She presented the findings of this study in Canada and abroad from 2012 to 2017. Her research results are analyzed in detail in her 300-page doctoral dissertation titled, “Harvesting the interactive potential of digital displays in public space : The poetics of public interaction”, as well as in a number of essays published in scientific journals, book chapters and conference proceedings. Defended in 2011, her master’s thesis is a 200-page case study that compares the rhetorical value of press images published in American vs. Canadian daily newspapers at the end of the nineteenth-century.

Claude trained in a number of disciplines in the following academic programs:

2016 | PhD in Interactive Arts and Technology Design from the School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT) housed in the Faculty of Communication, Art, and Technology at Simon Fraser University in Surrey (B.-C.)

2011 | Master’s of Arts in Communication from the School of Journalism and Communication housed in the Faculty of Public Affairs at Carleton University in Ottawa (On)

2009 | Bachelors of Fine Arts from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema and the Department of Studio Arts housed in the Faculty of Fine Arts at Concordia University in Montreal (Qc)

Specialization in Film Production

Major in Photography

Minor in Art History

A list of her publications can be found on ResearchGate.

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