Launched during Melbourne Design Week 2023, the City Stories exhibition is now available to explore online. We invite you to experience seven diverse creative pieces that explore the role of sensors, technology and data in our city. 

Conversations across the city revealed important community issues including safety, accessible places for social connection and taking care of the environment. With these voices in mind, seven artists created unique pieces to creatively communicate how technology might help address these issues.

The exhibition – paintings, animation, social media videos, interactive works, mapping and more – invites visitors to consider and contribute to how sensors and data can help our city adapt and meet the needs of communities now and in the future.  Data collected in the physical and online exhibitions will guide how we work with the community to increase understanding of why we use sensors as well as explore new uses of sensors and technology to solve important city issues. 

Explore the exhibition, learn about the artists and share your thoughts below.

The City Stories pilot is a partnership with Craig Walker and Studio TunTun design agencies.

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Gallery floorplan

Exhibition details

Two stages of community feedback contributed to these seven creative works. Each piece tells a unique story through a different medium, enabling us to determine the most effective to foster community engagement.

During Melbourne Knowledge Week in 2022, the ‘How the City Sees’ exhibition explored putting sensor technology in the hands of community. Some of the tools used to better understand the use of data and technology include: a sensor table, an interactive sensor map with ‘data receipts’, and a live data dashboard connected with sensors in the space. The exhibition attracted more than 300 visitors who shared feedback. The feedback was used to guide our City Stories project.

In City Stories, the seven creatives responded to community issues and themes collected via community conversations. They shared their creative concepts in follow-up community conversations and used feedback to guide the final works.

Engagement activities also included using existing City of Melbourne data on neighbourhood issues and priorities, communicating with under-engaged groups in workshops and face-to-face interviews, and getting feedback at the physical exhibition during Melbourne Design Week 2023.

By submitting your feedback in the survey below, you’re helping to shape how we communicate information about future projects.

City Stories features work by seven artists:

  • Caitlyn O’Brien (she/her) is a Dja Dja Wurrung and Yorta Yorta artist based in Naarm (Melbourne). Caitlyn’s practice is multidisciplinary; focusing primarily on painting and drawing, with pursuits in photography and sculpture. Creating a visual balance of realism and gestural mark marking, there is an underlying theme of identity that persists throughout Caitlyn’s work as she contemplates and celebrates her existence in the world as a young, blak, and queer person. Caitlyn works on unceded Wurundjeri land. Caitlyn’s piece is called ‘one less thing to worry about’.
  • Sami Jenkins (she/her), also known by her online persona Wiltyplant, is a freelance content creator based in Naarm (Melbourne). Sami’s creative journey started when she discovered her passion for vlogging, telling stories, and connecting with like-minded people online to foster vibrant communities. Her work depicts her own life as a young person navigating their identity, bringing viewers along. Her hope is that her work entertains, helps people feel less alone or maybe even teaches them something new. Sami’s piece is called ‘Sensing the city’.
  • Moonis Ahmad (he/him) is a Kashmir-born artist whose practice transverses various media such as installation, sculpture, computer programming, sound, and video. He completed his doctoral research at The University of Melbourne in 2022 and has shown his work at various solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally. He has received the Foundation of Indian Contemporary Art's Emerging Artist Award 2017-18 and the Schloss Solitude Fellowship 2022-23, as well as other awards and accolades including the AGRTP scholarship. Moonis’s piece is called Miraculous Life of Data Ecologies.
  • Emma Ismawi (she/her) is a Sarawakian/Australian artist, designer and educator who is passionate about purposeful design and provocative content that educates, inspires and empowers. Specialising in illustration, branding and publication design, she is fluent across both print and digital channels. Emma’s hope is to use her skills to tell stories as a vehicle for change and to help build sustainable, inclusive communities. She lives and works on the unceded lands of the Woiwurrung and Boon Wurrung people in Naarm/Birrarung-ga (Melbourne). Emma’s piece is called ‘Un-Desire Paths.
  • Tommi Parish (they/them)(they/them) is trans Australian cartoonist and painter living in the United States. Their debut work, The Lie and How We Told It, won the 2019 Lambda Literary Award for the best LGBTQ graphic novel, was nominated for the Ignatz award, and was translated into 11 languages worldwide. Tommi's second novel Men I Trust (2022) was nominated for the 2023 LA Book Prize. Their work has been in Granta, The New Yorker and other places. Tommi’s work is called ‘it happened like this’.
  • Benjamin Thomson (he/him)him) is a commercial artist, designer and educator with a background in design and photography. He works across design, photography, 3D and animation. He has been focusing on an absurdist mix of futurism, neurodivergence, class and Nu Metal through a visual digital medium since 2004. He presented ‘What Do You Do?’ as part of Melbourne Design Week 2023. Ben was born in Putaruru, New Zealand and now lives and works on Wurundjeri land. Ben’s piece is called ‘Megafauna’.
  • Xen Nhà (they/them) is a documentary maker, artist and writer with a background in creating intimate dialogues and storytelling across sound, film and texts. They have worked as a freelancer in editorial and producer for podcasts, films, arts and community projects such as the Emerging Writers Festival, and The Moth Live (NYC). Their work explores the interplay between personal and collective narratives and the responsibility of listening. Xen lives and works in Melbourne on unceded Wurundjeri land. Xen’s piece is called ‘Roots of Care.

Valuable data was collected during the exhibition, including general thoughts and comments regarding the displays, as well as more specific information via two interactive artworks. Approximately 80 people joined the launch event and panel, with an additional 220 visitors across the exhibition’s five day run.

Visitors told us to feel safer in the city there needs to be more and better lighting on streets and public spaces and increased activation in main streets and community spaces to encourage people activity.

They also found the Interactive elements of the exhibition to be innovative and fun with all respondents rated the exhibition as interesting or very interesting.

Visitors feedback also found art as an effective, creative and interesting way to communicate “nerdy” topics such as technology and data, with almost all respondents (87 per cent) agreeing they understood more or a lot more about data and sensors after visiting the exhibition.

Share your thoughts in the short survey below.


  • Timeline item 1 - complete

    Exhibition with Melbourne Design Week

    17 to 21 May 2023

  • Timeline item 2 - active

    Digital exhibition and consultation open

    7 September 2023

  • Timeline item 3 - incomplete

    Consultation closes

    30 November 2023

  • Timeline item 4 - incomplete

    Data analysis

    from 1 December 2023

  • Timeline item 5 - incomplete

    Sharing insights with community

    January 2024

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