The Public Life of Objects

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Micro Museums, exhibition by the students of the Public Life of Objects Interdisciplinary Design Lab, UTS, 2013

The Public Life of Objects was an Interdisciplinary Design Lab held in 2013 at the University of Technology, Sydney. It addressed the human compulsion to collect, organise and display objects. A collaboration with curator Holly Williams, the lab included 30 students from across different design disciplines. The lab explored the relationship between objects, exhibitions and audiences, and the role of objects and their arrangement in the creation of knowledge. Weekly lectures examined a number of historical models of display – from renaissance cabinets of curiosity to the contemporary white cube. Studio tasks focused on hands on experimentation with the collection, arrangement and display of objects – including found objects, thrift shop treasures, figurines and miniatures, toys and precious personal belongings.

The lab culminated in two exhibitions: MicroMuseums – a set of miniature collections, with purpose built, portable display infrastructures –  thirty museums in sixty square metres, and Sub_Sydney – a collaborative exhibition held at the Sydney University Library. Sub_Sydney unearthed ordinary and extraordinary objects that offered an insight into Sydney’s underlying sociology, geology and mythology. It aimed to reveal the subterranean, subcultural, subconscious, suburban, subtle and sublime elements of the city.

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Micro Museums, exhibition by the students of the Public Life of Objects Interdisciplinary Design Lab, UTS, 2013


With thanks to Jemima McDonald and all the staff at the UTS Library, Professor Peter McNeil, Glenn Barkley at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Matthew Connell at the Powerhouse Museum, Katie Dyer at the National Art School and White Rabbit Gallery.

Sub/Sydney was inspired by Masterpieces of Everyday New York: Objects as Story, curated by Radhika Subramaniam and Margot Bouman at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Gallery, New York.

Public Life of Objects Students:

Supriya Bhonsle
Minh-Thao Bui
Donald Chung
Alisa Croft
Kezia De Costa
Nadia Dubrovic
William Duong
Silva Hanna
Sunyoung Hwang
Monica Jan
Jared Wee
Byron Lam
Catherine Lao
Julia Le
Jennifer Lee
Amy Lee
Carrie Li
Angel McMullan
Robert Milne
Dinh Khoa Nguyen
Beste Onay
Marian Park
Rebecca Pino
Joanna Ruasol
Jumana Shakeer
Luxi Shang
Hayley Smith
Sarah Stevenson
Paige Swainson
Joanna Ta
Matthew White
Kristina Yenko
Yang Zhou
Linhao Zue