Shan Shan (b. 1988), pronouns: she, her, hers,  is an award-winning experimental filmmaker and new media artist. Her research-centered practice focuses on exploring digital humanities and socio-political interactions. Since being in the field of VR/AR/XR, Shan Shan has been the recipient of the Kooshk Award and named Sonar+D Innovation Creator in 2017; she spoke at the largest VR conference NYVR in 2018; she participated and produced VR short films at the MIT Hackathon in 2019; she founded the NeXReality Lab: a research laboratory that focuses on VR/AR/XR in 2020 and continues to serve as VR advisor for film festivals and Assistant Professor in Media Arts at Sacred Heart University. 

Current Ph.D. researcher in Science, Techonlogy and Art, Escola das Artes at UCP (entered 2020)
M.F.A. in Experimental and Documentary Arts, Duke University
B.A. in Cinema, Binghamton University 


Deeply rooted in experimental and avant-garde cinema, my body of work as an artist involves exploring new artistic methods and experimenting with new techniques to push the boundaries of ideas and creativity and radically reflects innovation and originality of our time. Because of my background in cinematic arts, I tend to think about moving image as a performative medium. I see it as painting in time. My puzzle is to try to get to the point where I transport the sensibility for others to see as well as to me. I spent a substantial amount of creative energy dealing with “material”. My techniques are ranging from hand processing analog film to rending and generating video and audio signals live with synthesizers. I have always been interested in deconstructing “medium” and “material” to understand its genuine embedded message.

It has been a natural expansion for me to work on VR/AR/XR, 3D modeling and rendering, machine learning, and spatial sound, as I consider my work to be notably ahead in its technique, subject matter, or application. As evidenced by my curriculum vitae, I have exhibited globally and have been recognized for furthering innovative practices. These projects include solo and group exhibitions, virtual reality experiences, artificial intelligence prototype, and internal and external grant-funded research trips. I started an investigation on VR/AR/XR shortly since I started my tenure-track position at Sacred Heart University in 2016. This practice-research has been ongoing for the past 6 years and has resulted in a new way of storytelling that allows me to express myself as an artist and filmmaker in a deeper and more contemporary way. Since being in the field of immersive technologies, I have made significant contribution and recognition.

My research approach is similar to my creative process: synthesizing disparate concepts; creating prototypes to examine; deconstructing history and inventing new vocabulary. Being a maker has helped me to obtain the ability to think critically, solve problems, and explore alternatives as I create something new and potentially innovative and disruptive.  In my Ph.D. practice-research, my study is situated in continental philosophy, science and technology studies, and the consequent social relationships. Being aligned with the anti-colonial framework, I deploy critical theory paradigm and its philosophical positions on epistemology, ontology, and methodology in a research enterprise. This study calls into question the importance of techno-aesthetics. What happens when the tools artists are using are the same as the tool for political and economic means? Is it a unique set of qualities, or is the one that separates us from the machine and the one that separates us from animals so different that there is no one or a set of qualities shared by all of us or shared by us alone? In other words, is the history of technology a history of humanity? In my writings and exhibitions, I explore how constitutive cultural strategies constrain or aid the instrumental goals of reducing the work of art into commodifiable and consumable.