Stories of Artifacts


Stories of artifacts are: 

  • the specificities (detailed parts) of the affective sites of engagement. An artifact is – like the human body or the space - not a thing, but a doing – a congealing of activity and agency, which means that it is co-constituent of practices, and itself constituted through practices 

  • regarded as an apparatus in the Baradian sense. A chair is not a thing. It is the congealing of the activity or material-discursive practice of sitting down. As an apparatus the chair holds the constitutive agency of being a productive machinery (Juelskjær, 2009) by inviting the human partaker to sit down and engage in a particular manner, which then in turn co-constitute the emerging practice of the site of engagement

  • a story mode that more specifically accounts for an apparatus of a knowledge-making practice coined as ‘object theatre’ brought about through a material storyboard; a 3D sandbox and a large collection of artifacts to articulate or reconfigure meaningful stories - or knowledge-making-practices – of professional practices of any sort.  Below you can see a video-cilip of parts of an Object theatre process among a group of students. (U-CrAc 2014, group 18), while facilitated by two of our community members: Malene Hosbond & Camilla Bach Jensen

Object Theatre


Object theatre was coined when Material Story Lab had its international debut as a platform for a Professional Development Workshop (PDW) at the Academy of Management conference in 2011 in San Antonio. The name refers to the communicative, restorying practice of placing small figures/artifacts in a box of sand that is inspired by sandplay but redefined by Anete Strand though her PhD project. She has trained the sandplay method extensively for several years and translated it to bring together the two areas (sandplay and storytelling) in the material storytelling mode ‘stories of artifacts’. In doing so the practice reconfigures from a therapeutic field to a storytelling field within organization, design and teaching/research.


At the LA based BigSTORY quantum storytelling conference in Dec. 2015 a specially designed sandbox-table and a large selection of hand-picked figurines enacted object theatre workshop with the 100 conference participants.










Anete Strand and LA-gangster gardener, Ron Finley introduced the theme as ‘‘pulling stories out of earth’ which in Ron's case came with the suggestion of 'doing epic shit!' 


Anete and Ron closed the workshop by pulling stories out of the configuration that had emerged from the conference participants having placed their chosen artifacts in the sandbox.






































































The event ended up opening a satellite Material Story Lab in LA as a joint venture of BigSTORY company by Mike Bonifer and USC, School of Cinematic Arts (, where Scott Fisher is Dean.


Up until the event Anete Strand had been working closely with Mike Bonifer and Hilary Clark on preparing the workshop. Obviously figurines needed to be collected – and Mike and Hilary did this over the course of several days following instructions from Anete in terms of shapes, sizes and kinds of figures needed for a wide selection. Another challenge consisted in building a sandbox of sufficient proportions to fit 100 participants and at the same time be manageable in the conference facility. Luckily Hilary’s partner is a skilled carpenter and he build the sandbox from instructions. And flew in early for the event to inspect and supervise the last details:















Photo: Sandbox moved to USC, School of Cinematic Arts after the event. From left Mike Bonifer, Anete Strand, Scott Fisher (Dean and Professor within interactive environments) and Jens Larsen, Old Friends Industries, related to advisory board for Material Story Lab.

Material Story Lab is now coworking with the private company BIGStory on the continual development of the following three methods ’Object theatre’, ’Immersive theatre’ and ’Music as change generator’.

















Photo: Mike Bonifer & Jeremi Karnell, BigSTORY Biz, LA

The conference resulted in quite a hype regarding the method and Material Story Lab/Aalborg University in relation to both.

A workshop event was subsequently held at USC in April ’16 at USC. Mike Bonifer conducted the workshop at the Marshall Business School of USC/Communication Lab. The workshop demonstrated material storytelling as a manner of introducing a quantum approach to storytelling. Both faculty staff members and master student participated. Currently the Communication Lab is in contact with Material Story Lab on possible coworking relations between the two labs. Below you see a few photos from the event.