Born in Tillsonburg, Ontario in 1960, David Rokeby has been creating interactive sound and video installations with computers since 1982. His early work Very Nervous System (1982-1991) is acknowledged as a pioneering work of interactive art, translating physical gestures into real-time interactive sound environments. Very Nervous System was presented at the Venice Biennale in 1986, and was awarded the first Petro-Canada Award for Media Arts in 1988 and Austria's Prix Ars Electronica Award of Distinction for Interactive Art in 1991.
Several of his works have addressed issues of digital surveillance, including Watch (1995), Taken (2002), and Sorting Daemon (2003). Taken was exhibited at the Witney Museum of American Art in New York in 2007. Another of his surveillance works, Watched and Measured (2000) was awarded the first BAFTA award for interactive art from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in 2000. Other works engage in a critical examination of the differences between human and artificial intelligence. The Giver of Names (1991-) and n-cha(n)t (2001) are artificial subjective entities, provoked by objects or spoken words in their immediate environment to formulate sentences and speak them aloud.
David Rokeby's installations have been exhibited extensively in the Americas, Europe and Asia. He has been featured in retrospectives at Oakville Galleries (2004), FACT in Liverpool (2007), the CCA in Glasgow (2007) and the Art Gallery of Windsor (2008). He has been an invited speaker at events around the world, and has published two papers that are required reading in the new media arts faculties of many universities.
In 2002, Rokeby was awarded a Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts, the Prix Ars Electronica Golden Nica for Interactive Art (for n-cha(n)t) and represented Canada at the Venice Biennale of Architecture with Seen (2002). In 2004 he represented Canada at the SÃ£o Paulo Bienal in Brazil. In 2007 he completed major art commissions for the Ontario Science Centre and the Daniel Langlois Foundation in MontrÃ©al. His 400 foot long, 72 foot high sculpture entitled long wave was one of the hits at the Luminato Festival in Toronto (2009).
Recent projects include a series of video works which explore the patterns traced by movements across time, an installation evoking the presence of Marshall McLuhan in the coach house where he worked for the 2010 Contact Festival, and a new interactive sound installation entitled Dark Matter commissioned by Wood Street Galleries in Pittsburgh. He is currently preparing a new work for the opening of the Ryerson Gallery and Research Centre in Toronto in 2011.