A Balanced Conversation (2012)

A Balanced Conversation was a project ideated by Design Commission for Olson Kundig’s [storefront] space in Pioneer square. The exhibition was part of a series called Table Talk, exploring how mealtime conversations are evolving in the face of digital technology. Table Talk used embedded cameras in a large suspended table (aptly called the Table of Truth), recording intimate mealtime conversations across a number of dinner events for later analysis and public archival by the MCDM program at UW.

My involvement, as part of Design Commission, was programming a separate coffee-sized table situated in the front of the space. An area where exhibition participants could relax while dinners were being prepared, A Balanced Conversation listened in. The installation consisted of an actuated coffee table built around a universal joint, allowing it to tip in any direction. Using an array of embedded microphones, the table could find the dominant speaker and lean toward them, giving not-so-subtle clues that maybe they’ve been talking too much. An unstable surface, the installation also exploits an interesting phenomenon that people tend to drink a little more, a little faster, since they can’t put their drink down!

» Article on Table Talk in Seattle's City Arts magazine