The hidden histories of objects: provenance, storytelling and tagging technologies

Simone O'Callaghan, Chris Speed

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


This paper explores storytelling methods to follow the lives of objects from their first inception to the narratives they collect along the way. It is part of TOTeM[1] a £1.39M research project based around the “Internet of Things”[2], which opens up new ways of preserving people’s stories through linking objects to the Internet via “tagging” technologies such as QR codes.

The process of appending immaterial data such as textual, video and audio stories, offers a significant additional dimension to the material attributes of an object. Hand produced creative artefacts already transcend a material value because of their individual characteristics and their reference to social and cultural frameworks. As the emerging technology of the Internet of Things supports the tagging of more and more objects, things will begin to accrue an immaterial data shadow that will begin to out weigh its material instantiation (Sterling, 2005).

Project Partners at The University of Dundee and Edinburgh College of Art have been unpacking these notions through creative practices, working both as, and with artists to embed the Internet of Things in a more social and interpersonal context.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes
Event17th International Symposium on Electronic Art - Istanbul, Turkey
Duration: 14 Sep 201121 Sep 2011
Conference number: 17th


Conference17th International Symposium on Electronic Art
Abbreviated titleISEA2011
Internet address


  • Mobile media
  • Ubiquitous computing
  • Internet of things
  • Printmaking
  • Digital art
  • Interactive media


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