Why mobile tables (tobiles)?
I’m playing with the notion that tables have to be static, especially in the casual environment of a cocktail party, business gathering, soirée, bar. Places where people (students, professionals, citizens of the urban environment) get together to connect. Could the tables in these face-to-face interactions move along with the feeling of the room, the feeling of the person using it? I imagine a flow, like water that carries about a social space. There are areas where that water gets stagnant and warm. What would be a way to bring fresh water about a social space? A constant circulation, a current that is charged by the feedback of the people in it, based on their feelings, on their emotions, on their body language. There are areas in a stream where pebbles gather, they naturally cling to a nook in the stream and accumulate. As they build so does moss, algae and eventually bacteria. You can see the change in the surface of the water as time goes on and this place in the river never gets fresh water. It gets oily, murky, signs of decay appear. I see this social metaphor, this happening in settings where people are meant to flow about a room: mingle and mix. But people can't always do this. They like to aggregate, fall into customary patterns, usually safe and sound with familiar spaces and familiar people. I ask, what is the purpose of social function? what does social mean? I answer: to meet other people and make contact with other people. My definition of Other means someone different than yourself and your group. The purpose of meeting with people in these scenarios is to extend your group, in essence extend yourself. So if people stagnate in comfortable nooks, with the comforts of the same social acquaintances, The space around gets murky and the opportunity is missed. The whole reason for being at the gathering is negated and all that's left is slimey pebbles.
The toblies, or mobile tables, pick up on moments of stagnation and revive the situation. It will be novel, people will delight or get frustrated by the very newness and unexpected quality of an un-static table. Let's look at the word TABLE... It’s very close to the word STABLE. The purpose of the table is to suggest a solution to a very relevant “problem.” A problem of lack of engagement or interest or motivation in social settings. The tobile’s role is make the “problem” noticeable, not blatant but perceivable. They will tip-toe away when the people around are not engaged. Maybe the person's drink will move away from them, maybe the person won’t notice, at least at first. It will be a topic of conversation because it is new. And then people might follow the table. It’s a prop. In situations like these props include: cocktails, purses, hands, pockets, tables. My guess is that if the prob moves, maybe the people will too.
What was your vision for the tobiles, what environment do they function in?
Tobiles make appearances in places where people need coaxing to circulate. The tobiles might give them the reason for moving, for accessing the subconscious that is reading a situation that might be “boring.” If the table moves then they might feel more apt to follow or at least be more aware.
What feedback did you get from the event?
Questions I asked:
Did the tables make you aware of awkward, boring, stagnant moments? Did you feel you could act on those feelings more easily? How many people did you meet tonight? How many people did you talk to? Would you call, email, twitter, facebook, meet up again? How would you reconnect? thru social media or thru food or drink? Topics of conversation? Things you connected by? Topics that came up more than once? Was food a topic of conversation? What was talked about?
How are you recording the feedback, how will you measure the success of the project?
Video, audio, photos. Written observations. I'm trying to discover patterns in social behavior/interactions. So I recorded ways in which I thought feeback would be discernable... how many people they connected with. How many drinks they drank. How much food was eaten. How much the person traveled about the room. How many bottles were consumed. Topics of conversation.
How do you move on to the next project in relation to your topic? (what is relevant, insightful?)
Well... my topic is trying to discover how one would engage better with themselves or others while eating. From this event I would find links/portals to engagement/connection. What did I miss? What are ways that I can record interaction... Why is my thinking creative/different?