Research themes


FASTLAB (future, arts, science and technology laboratory) is the Centre for Applied Chaos. It’s where our research happens.


  • explore the potential of human emotion, happiness and play
  • commercialise lateral thinking
  • open doors for non-traditional collaborators
  • inject controlled randomness to increase the number of possible connections between ideas, technology, art and culture
  • push ideas to the limit to really see what they can turn into
  • redraw academic research to expand the possibility of our combined futures
  • work to make sure that human progress actually progresses humans

Our researchers benefit from working across disciplines in ways that enable more complex approaches to broader areas of study and practice.


FASTLAB research staff, students, practitioners and industry partners collaborate across five research themes:

This group uses practice-based research methods alongside traditional approaches to develop a deeper understanding of how humanity makes decisions to take actions toward positive personal, organisational, socio-cultural and political change. It promotes mindfulness, empathy, health and well-being and improves and supports society, the environment and micro and macro economies. Intergenerational and intercultural research is important to these investigations).

This research group explores multi-sensorial approaches to narrative, framing and interpretation, encompassing linear as well as non-sequential and experimental forms. Spanning a diverse range of media - from cartoons and illustrations to music, films, animation, games, smartphone apps, AR/VR data visualisation, projection and sonification - this group investigates the use and reception of these media, as well as designing, deploying and evaluating new sensory experiences through revealing stories created within data by filters and algorithms to produce new narratives on existing and emerging platforms.

This group focuses on the future of work across the creative industries in a manner that moves beyond economic analyses and includes an examination of human interaction and creativity, empathy and wisdom as it relates to existing, new and emerging work environments. The potential of artificial intelligence and robotics to assist and support humanity in meaningful and sustainable ways is key to this research, as is the crucial role of entrepreneurship, creative pedagogies, creative imagination and innovation.

This theme expands our understanding of art, site, narrative, aesthetics and ethics through diverse approaches to making. This research area draws on discursive histories, dynamic cultural traditions and contemporary creative expression across all forms of immersive media and technology, performance and material practices. Through digital domains and new and existing archives, transmedia researchers bring audiences and creators together across the ‘exhibitionary complex’ to explore and curate the creative ‘contact zones’ of the future.

This group focuses on creating cultural assets and creative works in order to develop a broader understanding of social, cultural and symbolic capital (including sustainable economic capital). These are the embodiment and accumulation of knowledge, behaviours, pedagogies and skills which enrich the cultural environment and social networks of Australia. This includes the work of diverse communities and their creative traditions expressed through words, music, performance and visual art. The development of intercultural knowledge systems, intellectual property and IP rights in collaboration with Indigenous people and communities are also key to this research group.

FASTLAB Future, arts, science and technology

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.