The Story of Objects – research

(archived from 2015/2016)SOO yellow block logo

It’s just the beginning. The Story of Objects has the potential, in the future, to provide both online and offline opportunities for people to connect via the objects they own. In the meantime, it is proving to be a fascinating way of engaging people in rich conversations about ‘things’ that we keep and cherish. Indeed, this process of encounter could possibly a new way of investigating how we speak of art. It’s all getting very interesting and becoming a deep research project that raises many questions and stimulates complex conversations.

The world is full of ‘things’ that we are constantly discarding. Museums conserve selected objects and things in a formal, authoritative manner, whilst many, many, more things are circulated without any understanding of what they are, who they belonged to or where they have came from. Contemporary culture promotes the new and recycles the old. Uncountable objects reside in a place in-between – inherited from relatives who have no appreciation of them, picked up in charity shops that know nothing of their previous existence. Orphaned objects. They fascinate me.

What is The Story of Objects? It’s complicated, because it means so many things to so many people. It honours our memories and keepsakes from of our past; celebrates the potency of things we love, or hate but keep anyway, and acts as a harbinger of stories. The easiest way to explain it is to compare it with other things:

Antiques Roadshow, but instead of being concerned with economic value it’s about emotional value

The History of the World in 100 Objects (epic), compared to the History of an Object in the World (poetic)

The Internet of Things connects objects to each other for people to operate, but the Story of Objects connects people through things on the Internet

How might you become involved? Submit images and your stories to publication on

Visit the Flow blog page to view other posts about The Story of Objects

Follow the Facebook page. You are welcome to post pictures of objects you care about on there, and add their story. It is also a platform to discuss wider issues and to share information about other relevant projects, research and work.

Read a bit more here

Submit a video to the Youtube playlist. Send me a 30 second film of you talking about an object, or indeed many objects, that you somehow never discard, for whatever reason. When you’ve made your film, if you could put it in Dropbox and share the link, or send it to me by youtransfer or similar would be great.

Workshops and research sessions. To date, the workshops have all followed a similar ‘show and tell’ format and all were documented on audio for research purposes. Examples of the diversity of groups:

  • 6 local people aged 50+ (case study 1)
  • 10 dementia sufferers with their carers (50+ case study 2)
  • 5 archaeologists at MOLA
  • Small groups of people in my home (choir members)
  • Numerous encounters with solo people, or couples, in their own homes, or mine
  • Group of 6 artists 30+ (case study 3)
  • Group of 2 arts professionals alongside a contemporary archaeologist
  • Group containing 2 museum professionals, alongside 3 artists with museum sector experience

Soon I’ll be working with various institutions to take the research deeper and wider, to really understand what power the process has to change the way we think and speak about objects. It’s an exciting stage and could lead to a new way of articulating why we relate so closely to some things.

The Story of Objects has the potential to be a social media tool for objects that aggregates knowledge about ‘things’ and disseminates it globally. An online platform allowing storage, and access to, a bank of images of significant objects and associated narratives, connecting orphaned objects and people through stories in an accessible and easy way for posterity, permanence, and safekeeping. Just as bloodlines connect people in genealogy, objects connect people through production and ownership.

Who is it for? Everyone, everywhere. Many people own treasured objects that may be of significant importance to our heritage, or just to them personally. Regardless of personal attachment, when the public upload information there could be cross-fertilisation of meta-data, enriching the stories of each object and adding to the canon of knowledge on a global scale. The public could use the site much as they do genealogy sites.

Research supported by De Montfort University – more on that here.

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