Art in the IoT – ‘every thing every time’

Art in the IoT – ‘every thing every time’

FuturEverything are utilising art in Manchester smart city demonstrator CityVerve to highlight the innovations that IoT technology is bringing to the city. They have recently launched ‘every thing every time’, an artwork by Naho Matsuda which uses sensor data to make poetry from the information that is collected.

Nick Chrissos, Project Director at CityVerve, speaks at the launch of ‘every thing every time’

We need new ways to make the Internet of Things visible, bring it into sharp focus, so we can see the new fabric of the Smart City. One way to do this is through art.

We are introducing art in CityVerve to engage more people in the project, so that people can see and understand systems that are often complex and hidden, and, we hope, to stimulate the innovative aspects of the IoT technologies.

As computing dissolves into the everyday world all around us, we are surrounded by millions of connected, intelligent objects scattered through the city. A bin, lamppost or coffee cup can be a computing device, a sensor or actuator.

Complex systems pose profound questions on the way we want to live and be governed. When computing moves from the screen and into an ambulance it can be a matter of life and death.

For people to make informed decisions about the technologies we want and need it is essential to make accessible and demystify these capabilities. Awareness and understanding of the latest advances can be low even among experts in closely related IoT fields. A specialist in privacy may not understand the security capabilities of a new platform and so decide not to use it.

One of the major barriers to development and uptake in the Internet of Things and Smart Cities is the lack of engagement, understanding and trust of people who are the end users, or are affected by these technologies.

The role of art in technology innovation

We need new ways to make the Internet of Things visible, bring it into sharp focus, so we can see the new fabric of the Smart City. One way to do this is through art.

Art can enable us to reach out and touch or interact with systems and ideas that are otherwise remote and hard to access. Art can engage the imagination in the future of technology, and ask the big questions about the consequences of new technology. Art can engage the public in concepts and technologies that are not easily accessible, and bridge and translate between the concerns and language of engineers and citizens.

Many artists are technologists too, often working at the forefront of technology innovation, and can bring a fresh point of view on a technology. Observing how people respond to these experiments in advanced technologies can provide insights about what people need and will accept, and this can feed into the design and development of those technologies.

It is the vision and confidence of the CityVerve partners and funder, InnovateUK, that led to the inclusion of art in CityVerve. 

Naho Matsuda speaking at the launch of ‘every thing every time’

FutureEverything has unveiled a new art commission by emerging artist Naho Matsuda for CityVerve, titled every thing every time.

Naho Matsuda, is one of seven artists selected as part of FutureEverything’s talent development and commissioning scheme FAULT LINES. The first piece of artwork unveiled for the scheme is for Manchester’s CityVerve, and responds to the development of smart cities and the Internet of Things.

every thing, every time uses Internet of Things technology, drawing from existing open datasets, as well as new data deployed by CityVerve, the UK’s demonstrator for smart cities. The datasets are translated into words, poetic phrases which together offer a glimpse into the ubiquity of technology in urban space.

“every thing every time is a piece of real-time digital writing, which is drawing from the many ‘things’ and ‘events’ and changes of ‘status’ that are constantly happening in Manchester,” says Naho Matsuda. “In every thing every time I have turned these data streams into narratives formatted as poems, that are stripped from their location information and any data transmitting purpose. Smart information becomes impractical poetry.”

every thing every time aims to re-evaluate the value of data and the meaning of connectivity in the ‘connected city’. The written, poetic narrative will emerge from the data from the urban environment in real time, stripped from its context and its practical purpose, every thing every time will appear across several public locations on Manchester’s Oxford Corridor, creating new connections in a familiar space.


every thing every time

22 June – 8 July 2017

Manchester Central Library will host an extended run of the work outside the reading room from 22nd June until 9 August.


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  • Indeed very informative & inspiring post. Keep up the good work!!

    Apr 19, 2018 at 8:12 am
  • Henry Carr

    I have just finished writing my Dissertation on the exact same topic, very interesting! Art and data visualisation aiding the communication and interaction between citizens, the IoT and governments is important, creating the link with the IoT in Urban Spaces. The title of my paper was “Defining a Smart City & contextualizing the IoT within Urban Space, addressing digitization and the Human- Computer-Interaction with Citizens.” It would be good to chat more!

    Jun 14, 2018 at 11:42 pm

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