Making Memories Day 2018

On 22 March the Materialising Memories team (and some MM friends) left their offices to embark on their fifth Making Memories Day. Our team outing started in the afternoon in The Rocks, the oldest part of Sydney, for an Urban Hunt (interactive scavenger hunt). We split up in two teams and via an interactive Messenger chat we received questions and cryptic clues. By following these cryptic walking directions and searching for the right answers, we passed small alleys and historical places and facts in The Rocks we had never seen or known before.

After a short Ferry and Light Rail ride we arrived at our dinner place, The Tramsheds. Some more team members joined us here who were not able to attend our afternoon activity. We enjoyed our dinner in a restored Sydney tram.


Xenia attended ACE 2017

Written by Xenia Zürn, MM-alumnus:

From 14-16 December ACE 2017 (14th international conference on Advances in Computer Entertaiment technology) was held. The conference was held in The Shard, which is the tallest building in the United Kingdom, and provided us with an amazing view over London.

The amazing view from the Shard. Can you see the Tower Bridge?

On this conference I presented my (first!) paper ‘Photo Curation Practices on Smartphones’. The paper resulted from a master course at the Eindhoven University of Technology that was also connected to Materialising Memories. It was also my first encounter with the topic photo curation that led me to Materialising Memories in Sydney, where I did my research semester as part of my masters.

Nervous but excited: On my way to London!

At the conference, I started my presentation by asking my audience to take a look at their smartphones and tell me how many photos their smartphone photo collection includes. After people were still raising their hands at more than 10,000 photos, the person with the most photos had over 16,000(!) photos on his smartphone. The smartphone is certainly a device to take into account if we talk about photo activities!

How many photos do you have on your smartphone?

In this study we conducted semi-structured interviews with 11 participants and which we asked them to talk about and to show us how they perform photo curation activities on their smartphones. From the findings we identified design opportunities that can support and improve photo curation practices on smartphones.

The topics of the presentations were really diverse. I have seen presentations about games in the broadest terms, implementations of virtual reality and augmented reality, but also things like robots presenting parts of presentations, levitating food, something that reminded me of Guitar Hero to learn how to play a Koto (Japanese instrument), concepts on how to document dance and a ‘dance DJ’ that shows a dancing audience how to move.

Koto learning support method

The organisation of the conference led us to Blackheat, a historic area of London, for the welcome reception and we had dinner in the Royal Institution building, home to the organisation devoted to scientific education and research. The atmosphere at the conference was very good and this also led me to Christmas decorated pubs to have a pint with fellow researches and exploring the British nightlife;)

Me at the conference dinner in the Royal Institution building

Well done Xenia! For the paper, see:
Zürn, X., Damen, K., Leiden, F. van, Broekhuijsen, M. and Markopoulos, P. (2017). Photo Curation Practices on Smartphones. In: Proceedings of ACE 2017: 14th International Conference on Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology, December 14 – 16, 2017, London, UK. Springer.



Live Talk ‘Take Care to Repair’

Last week, Materialising Memories team member Annemarie Zijlema (me) participated in the Disruptive Innovation Festival. She took part in the panel discussion ‘Take Care to Repair’ with moderator Walter Stahel (founder-director of the Product-Life Institute in Geneva). The panel discussed the question how we get people to take care and repair their products, to increase the longevity of products to achieve sustainability. Annemarie talked about why some products are preserved, while others are discarded, from a memory perspective (starting at app. 24:48 minutes). The discussion was broadcasted live, and can be viewed back till 9 December 2017 via the following link:

The session was initiated by and recorded during the PLATE conference (Product Lifetimes and the Environment) at TU Delft. Annemarie presented her paper on ‘preserving objects, preserving memories’ on the role of traces on objects and repair on remembering. The proceedings are published open access on the PLATE website:

Presentation at Art Gallery New South Wales by Gail Kenning

Arts engagement to promote liveable communities

Materialising Memories members Gail Kenning and Annemarie Zijlema are currently engaged in another phase of research in relation arts engagement for people with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. As part of Dementia Awareness month Danielle Gullotta, Art Gallery of NSW, and Dr Gail Kenning, University of Technology Sydney will talk about some early findings of this project, which has been supported by Department of Family and Community Services, NSW.the project

The Art Gallery of NSW has been offering art access programs, particularly for people living with dementia and their carers, since 2009. An independent evaluation of the program in 2016 showed the importance of arts engagement for providing normalcy and social scaffolding to enable individuals to engage with artworks in a supported environment. The Gallery is now working with researchers at the University of Technology Sydney to explore how arts engagement within the Gallery can be extended to develop artmaking practices, and how these important programs can be extended to reach further into the community to allow more people to benefit from arts engagement.

Candidature Assessment Stage 3 presentation

On Tuesday 6 June 2017 I (Annemarie) will present my thesis for the Stage 3 Candidature Assessment in the Faculty of Engineering and IT. The presentation is public, and you are welcome to join. The details of the event are as follows:

• Date: Tuesday 6 June 2017
• Time: 10.30AM to 11:30AM (presentation till 11AM, questions till 11.30AM)
• Venue: CCS studio, CB.11.06.402 (UTS FEIT)
Degree: Joint PhD UTS and TU/e (Eindhoven University of Technology, the Netherlands)

Supervised by: Professor Dr Elise van den Hoven MTD (UTS and TU/e), and Professor Dr Ir Berry Eggen (TU/e and Adj Prof UTS)

Panel Chair:
Dr Sam Ferguson (UTS)
Assessor 1: Professor Dr Ir Kees Dorst (UTS)
Assessor 2: Professor Dr Amanda Barnier (Macquarie University)

Thesis Title: 
Cuing autobiographical memories by external memory cues in the personal environment


The encounter with personal possessions in everyday life, such as souvenirs, jewellery, or digital photos, can bring the past back to mind. Sometimes cuing a quick and fleeting memory, other times it brings back vivid and emotional responses. The research presented in this Candidature Assessment investigated the item-memories relation. Through three qualitative studies, this PhD research has provided insights into the aspects that influence the item-memory relation and the process of cuing memories by personal possessions (external memory cues), for physical as well as digital items. We found that possessions can cue different types of cuing responses. We discovered that different uses of objects influence their potential to cue memories, and also tensions in the relationship with objects affected their cuing. A longitudinal study revealed several reasons why the memory responses cued by personal items changed over time. Further, based on interviews with repair professionals and object owners, we gained insights on the role of objects’ traces and ageing on cuing memories. At the end of this presentation, we will reflect on and discuss how the gained knowledge can facilitate design for remembering with design considerations for designers and HCI practitioners.

Geke Ludden visiting UTS

Starting three weeks ago, Geke Ludden, assistant professor in Interaction Design at the University of Technology Twente, spends her sabbatical with the Materialising Memories team. She will stay and collaborate for two months in Australia as part of her home university’s personal development initiative. This initiative enables academic staff to clear their educational schedule for awhile to take up research-related activities elsewhere. In Geke’s case, her choice was to move from Enschede to Sydney for several months to build relations and expand her research network. This meant that her family had to come along as well, with her children attending a local school. The UT Nieuws magazine has covered her motivations and the organisational matters in more detail in a recent online publication.

Geke Ludden during her talk at the CCS space on 11 October 2016.
Geke Ludden during her talk at the CCS space on 11 October 2016.

For those of you keen to learn more about Geke’s work, check out her website. She gave a well-attended talk at UTS three weeks ago at the Creativity and Cognition Studios on her work. Last week, she was an invited speaker at a Design @ Dusk special CHISIG event at the University of Sydney. When not presenting Geke works in the visitors’ office available to the Materialising Memories team. With the attendance of OzCHI’16 in December comes an end to her visit.

PhD position available in Human-Computer Interaction, Product Design, Interaction Design: “Meaningful Metadata: The things I wish I knew”

Wendy MoncurSiân Lindley and myself (Elise Van Den Hoven) are looking for a great PhD student to work for us on a Microsoft-funded PhD, starting early 2017. Application deadline is 14 November 2016, please spread the word.

You will find the full ad and how to apply here on

Project Description

Applications are invited for a fully funded PhD scholarship at the University of Dundee, within Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, supported by a prestigious Microsoft Research PhD Scholarship, and in collaboration with the University of Technology Sydney.
You will have a background in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Product Design, Interaction Design, or a related area. You will join a growing interdisciplinary research group with backgrounds in HCI, Computing, Design, Psychology and the Arts, with a strong international research track record. You will be supervised by: Dr Wendy Moncur, University of Dundee; Professor Elise van den Hoven, University of Technology Sydney, Australia; and Dr Siân Lindley of Microsoft Research UK.Project:
You will focus on the diverse digital materials that are generated around a significant life transition across four strands – ‘personal’, ’social’, ‘organisational’, and ‘environmental’/ Internet of Things (IoT). These digital materials are usually scattered across multiple physical storage sites (e.g. laptop, cloud storage, mobile phone, server) and multiple sets of files. (Example: A life transition of emigration to a new country may generate digital materials that include electronic flight tickets, posts to friends on social media, and communications with government departments.)You will explore how these digital materials and their associated metadata can be exploited in novel ways, both for functional purposes creating long-term utility, and to create new experiences that enable creative, evocative, and contextual uses of personal data – for example, by developing rich personal narratives from the data.As a Microsoft Scholar:
You will be invited to Microsoft Research in Cambridge during the course of your PhD, for a PhD Summer School that includes a series of talks of academic interest and poster sessions, which provides the Scholars the opportunity to present their work to Microsoft researchers and a number of Cambridge academics.You should have a first class degree or good 2:1 and/or a Masters or equivalent experience in Human-Computer Interaction, Product Design, Interaction Design or a related area. Good spoken and written English is essential. The ability to employ a range of fieldwork techniques to inform the design of novel interfaces is desired. The ability to develop functional digital prototypes is essential.
Following interview, you will also need to apply and meet the University of Dundee’s entry requirements for PhD study.

The award is open to all nationalities, although funding for fees will only be paid at the rate charged to UK/ EU nationals. You will be required to meet the University of Dundee’s English Language requirements and will be asked to provide a copy of the certificate.
There is a stipend of £14,296 per annum for 36 months (full time), increasing annually in line with RCUK guidance ( In addition, you will receive a fixed hardware allowance and conference allowance.

Some of the Scholars may also be offered—at the sole discretion of Microsoft Research—an internship in one of the Microsoft Research laboratories. Internships involve working on a project alongside and as part of a team of Microsoft researchers. Scholars are paid during their internship—in addition to their scholarship bursary. Interested Scholars can apply through the Microsoft Research careers page.

Funding Notes

Applicants should submit a CV and a two-page statement describing their interest in pursuing a PhD and their experience as it relates to the topic in the first instance to Fiona Fyffe-Lawson, Administrator for Research, DJCAD – 
Informal enquiries can be directed to Dr Wendy Moncur – 


Relevant research:
Digital Possessions:
Living Digital:
Materialising Memories:

Attending ECCE’16

Last month yours truly returned from a trip that took me to Nottingham and back again. Along the way I spent considerable time aboard aircraft and managed to squeeze in a little sightseeing tour of London. The latter proved it’s possible to see quite a few of the city’s landmarks on foot in an afternoon but that it’s not necessarily a good plan to carry all luggage (as my sore shoulders could attest to later).

I was there to attend the European Conference on Cognitive Ergonomics and present my paper on the phenomenology of remembered experience. This concept is relevant to how people think about their past and how they would like to remember that past. For my study I interviewed 22 people and had them compare several of their own past experiences (that is, their memories) with each other. From there, I was able to categorise the ways in which they spoke about this and I also attempted to structure this visually. The intention is that this outcome will provide a base structure for future evaluation of people’s responses to remembering as probed by a prototype of an interactive system. The full paper is available online.

The conference room during a panel session. Crappy picture credit all mine.

Other topics at the conference included various approaches to human factors, effective visualisation of data, and studies into the best ways to apply augmented and virtual reality. Despite its relatively small size of about 50 participants, the conference managed to present quite a variety of topics. Another nice thing is that the single track set-up of the conference takes away the need to optimise which presentations to attend and which to ignore.

I was not the sole representative of the Materialising Memories team. David Blezinger, who visited us in Sydney in late 2014, took home the best paper award for his study on storytelling through and with objects.

At least to me, Nottingham was probably most strongly related to the stories of Robin Hood. And the area certainly doesn’t disappoint with gentle hills, green surroundings, lots of buildings that have been there for ages, and so on. The campus on which the conference was held stood in stark contrast with new, modern buildings throughout. I forgot to take a photo so I’m unable to share the visual glory with you here. Instead, I give you the house of Batman as this large manor was apparently host to some scenes in recent movies.

There was actually a stuffed bat inside this manor, in case you were wondering.

And Robin Hood? He lives on as namesake to a public transport card.

Report presented at the Art and Dementia research launch

Last Tuesday, the Art and Dementia research launch took place at the Art Gallery of NSW. At this event, the results were presented of a study that evaluated the art access program for people living with dementia at the Art Gallery of NSW. The study was conducted by Materialising Memories member dr. Gail Kenning (together with Annemarie Zijlema as a research assistant), who observed and analysed four sessions at the Gallery, and besides that interviewed and surveyed the attendees, professional care staff and volunteers, family members, and the program facilitators of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The following video provides an impression of the access program:

Associate professor dr. Roger Dunston (also a member of Materialising Memories) presented the findings, as deputy for dr. Gail Kenning, who is currently overseas. The report can be downloaded here.