playful cubes for storytelling, brainstorming ideas or playing games in three dimensions

Community & Events

Diffusion engaging with the community, online and out in the world.


an ongoing programme enabling residents at Proboscis studio to create eBooks and StoryCubes for their own projects.

Learning, Schools & Education

eBooks & StoryCubes created for learning and educational purposes


Browse the collection of Diffusion Shareables: eBooks & StoryCubes


Home » eBooks, StoryCubes, Transformations
Marseille Mix – never look at the map by William Firebrace
Submitted by on November 14, 2008 – 10:59 amNo Comment

Download A4 | US Letter PDF 376Kb
StoryCube A4 only PDF 752Kb

About : never look at the map – a confusing entry into the city. First in a series of 6 eBooks and StoryCubes published weekly, feuilleton style.

Marseille Mix
My first encounters with Marseille were in the cinema, in films such as The French Connection, La Ville est Tranquille and Taxi. It seemed a strange place, dangerous, not conventionally beautiful, down at heel, but somehow attractive. I decided on the basis of this cinematic introduction that this was the city I wished to write about – exactly because it did not coincide in any way with what I considered to be a city, because of its defiance.

Marseille is an irreconcilable mix – of different cultures, different societies, different ideas about the planning, different images, different gastronomies. It evokes fantasy as much as objectivity. As a city it inspires dislike and fear but also pride and love.

It is not possible to investigate this city in a linear, coherent fashion, since the city is in no way linear or coherent.

Marseille Mix contains various methods of writing – narrative, essay, recipe, lists, conversations, chance remarks, and others. Sometimes it flows easily enough, sometimes it accepts the need for contradiction, disruption, lack of resolution. Of course the book is not really exactly like the city – it is a personal investigation, with its own points of view.

Published November 2008 in the Diffusion Transformations Series

William Firebrace is an architect, and teaches in various London schools of architecture. He has published one book, Things Worth Seeing (Black Dog 2001), has completed a second, Awake, and is now finishing a third, Marseille Mix, which should appear in 2009.
Unit 2, Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

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Home » StoryCubes
Perception Peterborough – Underused Assets StoryCubes by Proboscis
Submitted by on October 29, 2008 – 10:57 amOne Comment

Download A4 only PDF 3.9Mb

About : These StoryCubes were created by Proboscis as part of a pack of ‘Impressions’ for the Perception Peterborough project. The Impressions were created through an Anarchaeology process which Proboscis conducted with over 20 local people in the city during July and August 2008 – uncovering stories, experiences and histories of the city as well as hopes and aspirations for its future. The process sought to raise the voices of people who would not usually be heard as part of a major urban regeneration plan, and form part of a Culture of Listening. The StoryCubes themselves focused on ‘underused assets’ – those things which through conversations, observations, encounters and journeys appeared abundant within the city, yet not used or utilised to their full potential:

  • creative talent of the local population
  • diversity of the local population
  • green spaces
  • the River Nene

Perception Peterborough is a dynamic and creative visioning project which brought together key local representatives with creative thinkers to develop innovative approaches to the challenges and opportunities facing Peterborough. Proboscis was commissioned to develop and lead a series of creative workshops alongside consultants Haring Woods Associates

Published September 2008

Proboscis is a non-profit, artist-led creative studio based in London, UK. The team working on Perception Peterborough were: Alice Angus, Niharika Hariharan, Matt Huynh, Giles Lane, Karen Martin, Carmen Vela Maldonado and Orlagh Woods.

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Home » StoryCubes
Perception Peterborough – Briefing Pack StoryCubes by Proboscis & Matt Huynh
Submitted by on October 29, 2008 – 10:55 am3 Comments

Perception Peterborough StoryCubes 

Download A4 only PDF 4.1Mb

About : These StoryCubes form a key part of the Briefing Pack prepared by Proboscis and Haring Woods Associates for the participants in the Perception Peterborough workshops, held in September 2008. The illustrations and folding cube format were designed by Matt Huynh and are a playful way of engaging with the themes of the project, as well as a creative interpretation of existing policy documents. The black and white illustrations respond to the overarching theme of ‘Environment’, whilst the red panels refer to ‘growth and development of the built environment’; the blue panels refer to ‘green infrastructure and environmental technologies’; and the yellow panels refer to ’social cohesion within a climate of migration’.

Perception Peterborough is a dynamic and creative visioning project which brought together key local representatives with creative thinkers to develop innovative approaches to the challenges and opportunities facing Peterborough. Proboscis was commissioned to develop and lead a series of creative workshops alongside consultants Haring Woods Associates

Published September 2008

Proboscis is a non-profit, artist-led creative studio based in London, UK. The team working on Perception Peterborough were: Alice Angus, Niharika Hariharan, Matt Huynh, Giles Lane, Karen Martin, Carmen Vela Maldonado and Orlagh Woods.

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Home » Learning, Schools & Education, StoryCubes
Virtual StoryCubes
Submitted by on October 18, 2008 – 7:19 pmNo Comment

Staff and students of the digital photography course at London Southbank University have developed virtual StoryCubes in Second Life: 

In Second Life we can use StoryCubes as poetic and playful devices for displaying snaps in three dimensions, allowing us to reveal different perspectives and make new connections and associations. We can use them as a group to build a collective photo-narrative out of our individual snapshots around second life, and can come to a shared narrative that allow us to see new perspectives.


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Home » StoryCubes, Transformations
Pharmaceutical Cubes by Kenneth Goldsmith
Submitted by on October 3, 2008 – 2:33 pmOne Comment

Pharmaceutical Cubes PDF 1.2Mb 

About : While watching the 6:00 nightly news on one of the major U.S. television networks recently, I was struck by the amount of ads placed there by the pharmaceutical industry. From bladder control to mood-enhancement, an elderly viewership is clearly receptive to these types of products. But what struck me more than the frequency with which these ads ran was the fact that half of the, say, two-minute ad was given up to a double-speed announcer warning of the drug’s side-effects. For a full minute, what sounded to my ears like a new type of sound poem emerged: a litany of complaints and horrors that arise from steady use of these “wonder” drugs. The text was spoken so fast that I could barely understand what was being uttered.

Curious to know more, I went on the drug’s websites and found more than I ever could imagine. Zoloft, for example, provides a 43-page information PDF beginning with a chilling opening paragraph entitled “Suicidality in Children and Adolescents.” The first sentence reads, “Antidepressants increased the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior (suicidality) in short-term studies in children and adolescents with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and other psychiatric disorders.” It’s a numbing document for reasons both having to do with the terrifying content as well as the sheer amount of it: Zoloft is nearly 7,000 words long.

I have often talked about how today in writing, quantity has trumped quality; it is the writer’s job to manage the amount of available language. In sculpting these documents, I found my perfect material. Squeezed into 1-point type, then justified, I created columns of unreadable texts: words as texture. When folded into cubes, these warnings – secretly embedded into the pills we take – are reconstituted into three-dimensional forms, creating a new type of placebo. If language, as William S. Burroughs claims, is a virus from outer space, then this panacea for our psychotropic ills – delivered in linguistic torrents – proves Burroughs right by having opposite effect of virally compounding our diseases rather than curing them.

Published October 2008 in the Diffusion Transformations Series

Kenneth Goldsmith‘s writing has been called “some of the most exhaustive and beautiful collage work yet produced in poetry” by Publishers Weekly. Goldsmith is the author of ten books of poetry, founding editor of the online archive UbuWeb, and the editor of I’ll Be Your Mirror: The Selected Andy Warhol Interviews, which was the basis for an opera, “Trans-Warhol,” that premiered in Geneva in March of 2007. An hour-long documentary on his work, “sucking on words: Kenneth Goldsmith” premiered at the British Library in 2007. Kenneth Goldsmith is the host of a weekly radio show on New York City’s WFMU. He teaches writing at The University of Pennsylvania, where he is a senior editor of PennSound, an online poetry archive.
More about Goldsmith can be found at:

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Home » StoryCubes
Alec Finlay StoryCubes at Arc Projects, Sofia, Bulgaria
Submitted by on July 18, 2008 – 6:41 pmNo Comment


Alec Finlay has made two wooden box versions of his StoryCubes which are being exhibited in Thoughts Within Thoughts at Arc Projects Gallery in Sofia, Bulgaria (21st June -26th July 2008).

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Home » StoryCubes
A Proboscis StoryBox
Submitted by on July 7, 2008 – 1:57 pm3 Comments

Proboscis StoryBox 2008 Proboscis StoryBox 2008

Download A4 only PDF 5.6Mb

Proboscis is proud to announce our first ‘StoryBox’ of digitally printed and die-cut StoryCubes: an 8 cube set printed on both sides which enables people to explore Proboscis, our projects, themes and ideas in three dimensions. 

We have a limited number available to buy from our webstore.

This is the first of a number of StoryBoxes which we will be publishing in the next year. Future ones include creative works by sound artist, Loren Chasse; a special set on our Snout project; a 27 cube set about Social Tapestries and a new edition of the Gordon Pask cubes, first shown last year in the Maverick Machines exhibition,  Edinburgh.

Custom Printed StoryCubes
Proboscis is now offering a service to design and manufacture custom printed StoryCubes – e.g. for marketing campaigns or communication projects – for single or double-sided cubes with as many different StoryCube designs as you like.
Please contact us for pricing at sales(at) 

 Survey Sampling StoryCubes
A set of 7 StoryCubes created for Survey Sampling International Ltd as marketing tools for their offices in the UK, France, Spain, Holland, Germany and Scandinavia.

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Home » Community & Events, eBooks, Events, StoryCubes
Manchester Beacon Workshop & b.TWEEN StoryCubes
Submitted by on June 26, 2008 – 10:48 pmOne Comment

storycubes at btween08

Manchester Beacon Workshop eBook A4 | US Letter PDF 1.8Mb
Manchester Beacon Workshop StoryCubes A4 only PDF 1.9Mb
b.TWEEN StoryCubes A4 only PDF 3.8Mb 

About : The eBook is a document of the ideas, issues and challenges for an “an online service that maps connections between people, places, knowledge and creative activity in Manchester” – an new tool for public engagement and knowledge transfer for Manchester to be commissioned by the Manchester Beacon Project and Just b. Productions. It records the activities of workshop facilitated by Proboscis in Manchester in June 2008; 16 StoryCubes created during the workshop are also available, as well as 24 of the StoryCubes created by delegates and the public at b.TWEEN08 as part of the ‘landscape of ideas’ for the commission brief.

The workshop and StoryCubes installation was facilitated and documented by Proboscis for Just b. Productions by Giles Lane and Karen Martin.

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Home » StoryCubes
StoryCubes at b.TWEEN08
Submitted by on June 20, 2008 – 1:25 am2 Comments


As part of b.TWEEN08 in Manchester, Proboscis is facilitating a StoryCubes ‘landscape of ideas’ to help Just b. Productions and the Manchester Beacon Project define the brief for a new commission to create an online public engagement service that maps connections between people, places, knowledge and creative activity in Manchester. Starting with an initial day-long workshop to scope out the wider issues, aspirations and challenges for the design brief, a series of questions are being posed to the delegates of b.TWEEN to add their comments ideas and suggestions to:

 – Who are the key people and networks that engagement tools should target?
 – What makes engagement tools sustainable?
 – What themes would inspire people to connect using engagement tools?
 – What opportunities should engagement tools offer their participants?
 – What shouldn’t engagement tools be or do?
 – What are reasonable and achievable expectations for engagement tools?
 – What local communities should benefit most from engagement tools?
 – What kinds of links to the physical world should engagement tools have? 

b.tween StoryCube landscapeb.tween StoryCube landscapeb.tween StoryCube landscapeb.tween StoryCube landscapeb.tween StoryCube landscape

The word cloud (created using Wordle) above was generated from StoryCubes created during the workshop (June 17th) and on the first day of b.TWEEN08 (June 19th). The StoryCubes will be scanned in and shared online as inspirations for creative teams wishing to pitch concept proposals for the commission…

Update: the word cloud after day two

btween_word cloud_2_v2

Update 2 : We are really excited to be able to say that the delegates of b.TWEEN voted StoryCubes the Best Interactive Gallery Installation.

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  • Giles Lane
    Ed, you can find out more about the StoryCubes here: and download a leaflet about uses of…
    Comment posted on 6-26-2008 at 11:47
  • Ed
    The story cubes look really really cool. is there an explanation of how they work and what they do anywhere?
    Comment posted on 6-26-2008 at 11:04

Home » Community & Events, Events, StoryCubes
geeKyoto StoryCubes
Submitted by on June 11, 2008 – 9:28 pm2 Comments


Download A4 only PDF 1.1Mb

About : 24 StoryCubes making up a ‘landscape of ideas’ created by participants at geeKyoto2008.

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Home » StoryCubes
StoryCubes by Alec Finlay
Submitted by on April 20, 2008 – 12:32 pmOne Comment

Alec Finlay Cube 1Alec Finlay Cube 2

cube (after Ludwig Wittgenstein) PDF 1.5Mb
cube (score/fold) PDF 1.5Mb

About : This pair of cube poems can be viewed – or made – in the context of Finlay’s other poetic forms: the mesostic name poem; circle poems and the related windmill turbine text designs and wordrawings; and the grid poem and sliding puzzle poem objects derived from these. The text ‘your finger / my thumb’ was originally used in a performance collaboration with Dan Civico, for which Finlay made a handwritten circular wordrawing from these two phrases, while Civico folded origami cubes. Together with Guy Moreton and Michael Nedo, Finlay published Ludwig Wittgenstein: There Where You Are Not (Black Dog, 2005), a consideration of the Wittgenstein house at Skjolden in Norway.

Published April 2008

Alec Finlay (1966, Scotland) – Artist, poet and publisher, lives and works in Byker, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Finlay has produced a series of card cut-out nest-box schema, in collaboration with Jo Salter (available free from His most recent publications are two fields of wheat seeded with a poppy-poem (Milton Keynes Gallery); Specimen Colony (Liverpool University Press) and One Hundred Year Star-Diary (platform projects). He is is currently showing in herz:rasen at Kunstlerhaus Vienna (until July 6), where he is exhibiting Labanotation: the Archie Gemmil goal (2002), a collaboration with Robin Gillanders; and now then at the Bluecoat (Liverpool). His next exhibition, thoughts within thoughts, a duet with Pravdoliub Ivanov will open at Arc projects (Sofia) in late June 2008.

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Home » Community Projects, StoryCubes
Greenhill StoryCubes by Gillian Cowell
Submitted by on March 26, 2008 – 1:21 pmNo Comment

Greenhill StoryCubesGreenhill StoryCubesGreenhill StoryCubesGreenhill StoryCubes

Greenhill StoryCubes

Each cube contains a theme with six relating statements. All statements have been said by project participants.

Related eBook: Exploring Greenhill by Gillian Cowell

Greenhill Project

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Home » Community & Events, Events, StoryCubes, Urban & Social Tapestries
Art and Cartography
Submitted by on February 11, 2008 – 5:00 pmNo Comment

Images by Stefan Wagner (left) and Antje Lehn (right)

Proboscis recently took part in the ‘zoomandscale’ exhibition at Academy of Fine Arts and Kunsthalle Wien project space, Vienna. The exhibition took place alongside the Art and Cartography symposium, a collaboration between the Technical University Vienna, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and RMIT University, Melbourne.

Proboscis produced a set of twenty-seven StoryCubes illustrating processes and outcomes from the Social Tapestries research programme. This included details of our collaborations, methods, tools, techniques and aims; as well as activities, artworks, interfaces, communities, partners and concepts of public authoring. The display aimed to evoke the collaborative nature of our process by inviting visitors to construct their own StoryCube landscapes and share their thoughts with other members of the audience.

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Home » StoryCubes
Maverick StoryCubes
Submitted by on February 11, 2008 – 4:16 pmOne Comment

Last summer Giles and I created a set of eight StoryCubes for the Maverick Machines exhibition curated by Richard Brown. At a size of 20cm x 20cm each, these were far larger than the diffusion Generator StoryCubes. For precision they were produced using a laser cutter and made out of mount board. As a result of their size, people’s interaction with the cubes can be more sociable and collaborative than with the smaller StoryCubes. These cubes have to be grasped and manipulated using two hands and people can work together more easily to create landscapes.

The images on the StoryCubes are drawn mainly from Pask’s own work and show the projects, Musicolour, Colloquy of Mobiles, SAKI (Self-Adaptive Keyboard Instructor), Entailment Mesh and Eureka, as well as photographs of Gordon himself. Other images show work by Richard Brown inspired by Pask’s work with electro-chemical computing. Gordon Pask was a cybernetician who worked across disciplines including education, art, architecture, theatre and analogue computing and the StoryCubes aimed to illustrate this diversity of interests.

Pask Parallels written by Richard Brown to accompany the exhibition has been published through the diffusion Generator and is available here, while the eBook A Manual for Maverick Machines describes the selection of images on the StoryCubes and can be downloaded here.

Images on the StoryCubes copyright and courtesy of Richard Brown, Paul Pangaro and Jasia Reichardt.

Maverick Machines ran from 24th July to the 10th August 2007 at the Matthew Gallery, Edinburgh School of Architecture.

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Home » StoryCubes
StoryCubes as an evaluation tool
Submitted by on November 16, 2007 – 7:33 pmNo Comment

Dan Sutch of Futurelab writes on flux about using the StoryCubes at their recent Why Don’t You… conference,

During my session on day 1, I use Proboscis’ Storycubes to prompt conversations between audience members about particular aspects of innovation. The six themes of innovation we looked at where: the aims of innovation; measures of successful innovation; changes to social practices; the resistances to these changes; Actions to reduce these resistances, and ‘black box’ tools to support these process.

The results of these conversations were captured on each of the cube faces and these are being shared on the Futurelab website (the last link under my session) along with other outputs from the conference. It makes for really interesting browsing – being given an insight into the micro conversations at the conference that we can’t or don’t normally have access to. It also provides an interesting way to reflect on the shared viewpoints of the people at the conference – as well as highlighting the differences.

Proboscis designed a simple instruction card to be distributed with the StoryCubes to the delegates (see our StoryCube design services for details), who built up a ‘landscape’ of StoryCubes on a table in one of the conference’s public areas.

Why Don’t You…

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Home » StoryCubes
StoryCube Design Services
Submitted by on November 7, 2007 – 1:38 amOne Comment

Proboscis is developing new design services for StoryCubes:

  • StoryCube Packs for Conferences & Workshops: for organisers to distribute to delegates as an evaluation tool, or to stimulate discussion and debate. Proboscis will design and produce a pack containing up to 200 StoryCubes and 200 customised handouts for distribution to delegates. Please contact us for pricing.
  • Workshop Facilitation: Proboscis can facilitate StoryCube workshops at conference and events for brainstorming, discussion and evaluation sessions. Proboscis will design and provide custom handouts for delegates, all the necessary StoryCubes and will facilitate the workshops themselves. In addition we will document and evaluate the workshop as part of the service. Please contact us for pricing.
  • Personalised StoryCubes: Proboscis can design and manufacture individually designed StoryCubes – e.g. for marketing campaigns or communication projects – in small or large numbers of individual or multiple StoryCube designs. Please contact us for pricing.
  • Licensing: For customised designs and volume ordering (such as museum education programmes, workshops etc) the StoryCube design may be licensed to take advantage of local manufacturing economies. Please contact us to discuss your requirements.

For some examples of how StoryCubes have been used in conferences, workshops, corporate, training and educational settings please visit our Flickr Group.

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Home » StoryCubes
How Can StoryCubes Be Used?
Submitted by on November 7, 2007 – 1:34 amNo Comment

At Proboscis we use StoryCubes as poetic and playful devices for exploring ideas in three dimensions, allowing us to reveal different perspectives and make new connections and associations. We also use them as an engagement tool in our public projects, where they are particularly helpful in enabling groups of people to build shared narratives that allow them to see new perspectives. Here are some ideas for how you might use them:

  • as a brainstorming tool to help people share and discuss ideas in workshops, conferences and creative labs
  • as an evaluation tool to build up multi layered and multi faceted responses to an event (conference, workshop, performance etc)
  • as mnemonic devices helping participants recall activities and outcomes of workshops and mentoring sessions
  • in school projects to help students collaborate on group work, enhance negotiation and debating skills and develop tactile and spatial construction skills
  • in community projects for intergenerational work – helping people see each others’ perspectives on shared issues
  • StoryCubes are very effective with young children: make your own alphabet and number cubes or create StoryCubes with photos of friends and family to assist recognition and memory skills
  • for storytelling games – where each participant adds elements of a story to their cube and take turns in telling a story from the visible elements of a group of StoryCubes
  • for storyboarding: use the StoryCubes to help organise storylines for writing, animations or films.

Examples and pictures of StoryCubes
Upload photos of your StoryCubes with the tag “storycubes” to Flickr and view different ideas for how to use them:
or join our public Flickr group and share your photos and ideas of how to use them:

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Home » Publishing on Demand, StoryCubes
What are Story Cubes?
Submitted by on September 5, 2007 – 3:41 pmOne Comment

StoryCubes are a tactile thinking and storytelling tool for exploring relationships and narratives. Each face of the cube can illustrate or describe an idea, a thing or an action, placed together it is possible to build up multiple narratives or explore the relationships between them in a novel three-dimensional way. StoryCubes can be folded in two different ways, giving each cube twelve possible faces – and thus two different ways of telling a story, two musings around an idea. Like books turned inside out and upside down they are read by turning and twisting in your hand and combining in vertical and horizontal constructions.


How can StoryCubes be used?
At Proboscis we use StoryCubes as poetic and playful devices for exploring ideas in three dimensions, allowing us to reveal different perspectives and make new connections and associations. We also use them as an engagement tool in our public projects, where they are particularly helpful in enabling groups of people to build shared narratives that allow them to see new perspectives. In this way they assist with storytelling and discussion in conjunction with bodystorming and other research processes that we use.

We have found StoryCubes to be very effective in stimulating group discussions and have used them successfully in our work in schools (see our Everyday Archaeology project). The process that a group of people engage in when building a StoryCube ‘landscape’ creates a tactile and tangible environment for negotiation and sharing, for seeing the different implications and connections that the stories we tell have from the perspectives of others.

StoryCubes Flick Group

StoryCubes tagged in Flickr

Buy StoryCubes from Proboscis Webstore

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