Tales of Things: Exhibition and symposium on the Internet of Social Things.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Edinburgh College of Art


The creative explorations across the TOTeM project have defined the many ways of articulating the potential for a social form of an Internet of Things. Often characterised by logistical solutions for manufacturing and distribution, artistic and playful uses of the Tales of Things platform have introduced the principle that objects may be linked to the internet in a benign and accessible manner to people. Therefore it seems only appropriate to continue to use this genre to explore the broader opportunities and fears that 'ubiquity' creates.

Subsequently we propose to have an exhibition and symposium showcasing the variety of work that TOTeM has been involved in and setting it within the context of wider research on the Internet of Things by other institutions and artists.

An exhibition would be held in a high profile venue such as Media City, Salford, National Galleries Scotland or The Lighthouse (Scotland's Centre for Architecture and Design) in Glasgow. This offers a large exhibition area in a big city to maximize audience and open up the debate to a wider public outside the academic field. The symposium would be focused on the academic research aspect of the project and would be hosted by the TOTeM team resulting in a small publication of the project's outputs to date. This would be available at the symposium but also sent out to key stakeholders in the field.

It is envisaged that the exhibition would be a pilot for a national touring exhibition with applications made to the Arts Council of England, the Arts Council of Wales and Creative Scotland. As a touring exhibition of arts, design and industrial works the exhibition will be unique in introducing the public to the cultural and social complexity of an Internet of Things.

The exhibition and symposium would follow the theme of social uses of the Internet of Things. The emphasis on the exhibition would be on creative uses of the Internet of Things creating a visually appealing exhibition made understandable to a general public. We would invite artists and designers such as Anab Jain, Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, Durrell Bishop, Christian Nold, UsmanHaque and Anne Galloway, as well as extend our existing relations with Microsoft Research Labs, Mozilla and NCR to explore a continuum between creative and industrial platforms. It is envisaged that this continuum would allow the public to engage with the complex social, ethical and technical issues that are emerging as more of our personal and business networks become 'hooked' up to the environments, artefacts and people that constitute society.

Planned Impact

Who will benefit from the research?

Businesses, charities and community groups would benefit from this research as well as the general public.

How will they benefit from the research?

Our partners listed above will have a direct benefit from the exhibition and symposium as they will be named and/or showcased at a high profile venue and mentioned in any publicity material.

The exhibition will benefit the culture of the UK as it will bring a number of internationally recognised artists together in the same space.

Accessible and engaging context for knowledge transfer:
The intention of the exhibition is that it engages as many members of the cultural and industrial communities as possible. To date we consider the adoption of the Tales of Things technology to be an important indicator to the potential for creative approaches to both cultural and industrial possibilities for the Internet of Things. But set alongside work by international artists we hope that the possibilities will become ten fold and inspire many more opportunities - commercial, educational, creative etc. In this way the show will become a catalyst for a series of social / industrial threads. Appropriate and relevant members of the press will be invited along to articulate the show and its key themes to specific audiences. Workshops will support industrial articulation as well as the cultural.

New research knowledge:
We consider the show to be a research output and expect to apply to Creative Scotland and the Arts Council of England for funding to tour it throughout the UK. Work of thise kind has never been brought together under such a culturally and industrially relevant theme before and in this way the show will act as an important research output that helps qualify the history for the Internet of Things. The UK Science, Art and Design community have a strong track record in defining this field by developing projects that indicate new futures for research and industry. We expect that the show will consolidate this history but through the clarity of the show, allow new narratives to be born.

New research knowledge on curatorial practices in an Internet of Things
The creative approach to the show itself will challenge established approaches to curatorial practices within the art and heritage communities. There has been much discussion about the nature of a contemporary museum in a networked world, and the talk of museums without walls is a popular vision of the future. Our exhibition expects to deliver on this in the present, and offer innovative methods for considering how artefacts are handled, shared and distributed rather than being kept within a glass case. We expect these methods to attract global attention as innovative demonstrators for new methods of sharing knowledge, and breaking down the hierarchy between knowledge producers and knowledge consumers.

Our partners:
National Galleries of Scotland
Artist Rooms
National Museum of Scotland
University College London
University of Dundee
Universityof Salford
Brunel University
Artists- Anne Galloway, Christian Nold, Jonnet Middleton
Designers- Anab Jain, Durrell Bishop, Bruce Sterling


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Speed C (2012) I am Seeing Things

Description This funding was specifically to run the symposium and exhibition for the larger TOTeM (Tales of Things and Electronic Memory) project.

The symposium was centered around 4 key themes- value, meaning, thingness and networks and each session was chaired by one of the TOTeM team, Chris Speed (University of Edinburgh, ECA), Jon Rogers and Simone O'Callaghan (University of Dundee, DJCAD), Maria Burke (University of Salford) and Andy Hudson-Smith (University College London, UCL).

We had international and local speakers across disciplines:
Mark Shepard (artist, architect and researcher, New York)
Mike Crang (Professor of Cultural Geography, Durham University)
Geoffrey Mann (artist, designer and craftsman, Edinburgh)
Irene NG (Professor of Marketing and Service Systems at the University of Warwick)
Mike Phillips (Professor of Interdisciplinary Arts, Plymouth University)
Torsten Lauschmann (Artist, Glasgow)

The exhibition explored how objects are no longer just about the material but are given identities through people's interactions with them, their feeling and memories, data may be able to offer us clues as to where an object was manufactured and how, but it is people that bring these things to life. A central part of the exhibition will be a series of plinths, not containing pristine museum pieces which no one can touch but contained an ever changing cast of artefacts with loans from the National Museum of Scotland, Dundee Contemporary Arts and Oxfam. Alongside this we featured work from exciting UK based artists each exploring the digital and the Internet of Things in their own way- Martin Boyce, Superflux, Dunne and Raby, Tommy Dykes and Max Phillips.
Exploitation Route We published a small book to accompany the exhibition and symposium which can offer insights to others.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Retail

URL http://www.iamseeingthings.com
Description The symposium and exhibition was the culmination of a three year research project entitled TOTeM (Tales of Things and Electronic Memory) and the work of its research team that has developed technologies to support the association of personal memories with material artefacts. The themes presented in the symposium reflected the investigators interests in the how this technology has disrupted consumer practices, heritage and the geography of things. I am Seeing Things was held at the Talbot Rice Gallery. With the context of the University of Edinburgh, Talbot Rice Gallery aims to foster relationships between artists and academics, pioneering new branches of research, knowledge and understanding. Since 1975 the gallery has presented a changing programme of exhibitions, including both Scottish and international artists. The symposium ran over one day and invited members of the public, academics, artists and the 3rd sector attended the day. Project findings were also displayed in an associated exhibition and following the symposium a book was created including speakers transcripts as well as findings from the TOTeM project.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Construction,Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Environment,Healthcare,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Retail,Transport
Impact Types Cultural

Description Dutch Design Week: Drive.NL, Crossovers: Smart to Circular, Panel 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact During Dutch Design Week the Drive.NL and Crossovers: Smart to Circular panel introduced how interaction design can play an important part in Circular Economy thinking.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015