Tales from the maker: using tagging technologies to create digital makers' marks

Simone O’Callaghan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

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This paper explores the provenance of art and design objects through stories of the people who created them. It is part of TOTeM (Tales of Things and Electronic Memories) a £1.39M research project based around the “Internet of Things”. Supported by the Digital Economy Research Councils UK, TOTeM opens up new ways of preserving people’s stories through linking objects to the Internet via “tagging” technologies such as QR codes. In this context, QR codes act as “digital makers’ marks” with the potential to hold far richer information than traditional marks. Inspiration for the object’s creation and its maker become the key focus, rather than facts about production and manufacturing. Collaborating with Dundee Contemporary Arts, a case study took place with print- based artists and curatorial staff to tag artworks with stories. These were showcased at Christie’s Multiplied Contemporary Editions Fair in London during October 2010. Drawing from historical references and practices identifying makers, this paper explores the future of tagging objects with stories at their point of inception. Discussion highlights how collecting and telling tales enables a more human and personal element to be attached to objects, where even QR codes themselves can provide a means of personal expression for the maker. With a focus on the human element, this paper seeks to examine how the tradition of makers’ marks, and their association with finely crafted objects can be relocated to a digital platform which enables communication between the maker and their audience.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the The Endless End, the 9th European Academy of Design Conference, Porto, Portugal, 4-7 May 2011
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes
EventInternational European Academy of Design Conference: The Endless End - University of Porto, School of Fine Arts, Porto, Portugal
Duration: 4 May 20117 May 2011
Conference number: 9th


ConferenceInternational European Academy of Design Conference
Abbreviated titleEAD2011
Internet address


  • QR codes
  • Mobile media
  • Provenance
  • Printmaking
  • Art
  • UKRC


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