Professor Toby Heys Professor of Digital Media

Professor Toby Heys

Dr Toby Heys is a Professor of Digital Media in the School of Digital Arts (SODA) at Manchester Metropolitan University. He is a cross-disciplinary and practice-based researcher with a highly collaborative approach to the delivery of a wide range of cultural productions such as installations, mobile apps, books, immersive experiences, vinyl recordings, performances, and multi-sensory environments.

Much of Heys’ recent funded work (Audiences of the Future – an interactive experience with musician Nile Rodgers and Arts Council of England and ECF projects) focuses on the sonic, haptic and interactive elements of the immersive experience, an area he has been exploring and advancing for over 30 years through industry-based projects, gallery exhibitions and festivals. He also works on the on/off boarding of immersive experiences and the multimodal approach to narrative construction in installations that utilise advanced digital technologies such as AR, AI and robotics.

Having helped design and set up SODA, Heys is currently engaged on a range of large-scale research projects such as: ‘DAFNE+’ (a €4m Horizon Europe funded project based on the development of an equitable NFT platform and production tools); ‘Algowritten’ (Mozilla funded project exploring trustworthy AI and the evolution of chatbots); The Centre for Digital Innovation – a cross university initiative to engage digital SMEs using immersive technologies (GMCA Innovation Acceleration/levelling up funding); ‘CoSTAR’ (The AHRC’s Convergent Screen Technologies and performance in Realtime (CoSTAR) programme.

Heys led SODA research groups such as ‘Research into Future Technologies’ (RiFT) and ‘Algorithms for Marginalised People’ (AMP), which initiated – research, knowledge exchange and innovative forms of pedagogy. Founding a range of collectives such as the KIT Collaboration, Battery Operated and AUDINT, his cross-disciplinary methodology has driven ambitious exhibitions and performances that have taken place at venues such as – TATE Britain (London), Art in General (New York), DHC/PHI (Montreal), Zorlu (Istanbul) and Centre d’Art Contemporani (Barcelona). Currently Heys is co-authoring a book entitled Listening In: How Audio Surveillance Became Artificial Intelligence for Bloomsbury publishing.