Leona Nikolić is a PhD candidate in Communication Studies at Concordia University specialising in new media, app studies, and digital humanities.
Her research explores relationships between technology and spirituality, the ways in which we believe in technologies, and the embodiment of consciousness in our digital objects. She is particularly interested in astrology apps for smartphones as sites of knowledge production that both shape and are shaped by ambivalent cultural narratives about human and artificial intelligence, as well as the potential for algorithmic media and AI to generate authentic spiritual experiences.
She first began investigating digital cultures and practices during her B.A. in Art History at Carleton University through research on new media art, net art, and post-internet art. During this time, she worked at the Ottawa Art Gallery, organised events at the Carleton University Art Gallery, and curated contemporary art exhibitions and performances in Ottawa and Montréal. She continued her studies at the Université du Québec à Montréal, completing a research-creation M.A. in Communication and Experimental Media. Her master’s thesis, Techno-Spirituality and the Digital Self: From Smartphone Applications to Immersive Installations, examined the mediation of the self and of reality through spiritual smartphone apps for meditation, astrology, and divination. This master’s thesis also consisted of a creative project— a digital meditation experience designed to reveal the participant’s ‘digital aura’ through a subversive exploration of our intimacy with our smartphones.
At UQAM, Leona was an active member of Hexagram, an international research-creation network, and of CELAT (Centre de recherches Cultures – Arts – Sociétés). She also served as a Coordinator for the 19th Inter-University Communication Studies Student Conference at UQAM. At Concordia University, Leona is a member of the Centre for Sensory Studies; the Media History Research Centre and the Speculative Life Cluster of the Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology; and the Global Emergent Media Lab. She is conducting her research under the supervision of Jeremy Stolow, an expert in religion and media studies leading innovative research on the use of media technologies as instruments of spiritual practice. Leona has been invited to present at academic conferences in Montréal, London, Istanbul, and Tours (France).
Her research has been published in academic journals, her creative writing has been featured in various literary publications, and she has participated as an artist in a handful of group art shows. Her latest publication appeared in MAST: The Journal of Media Art Study and Theory (State University of New York at Buffalo) and she recently participated in a round table, “What We Do with Screens and What Screens Do to Us” at Écran Total: Exhibition & Symposium (Centre de design de l’UQAM).
PhD Communication Studies | Concordia University | Montréal, QC | 2021...
M.A. Communication and Experimental Media | UQAM | Montréal, QC | 2018–2021
B.A. Art History with Minor in English Literature | Carleton University | Ottawa, ON| | 2010–2014