Peter Benjamin Jongste, Zhe Huang, Jialin Yang, Huan Zhang
We want to give users the opportunity to reflect on their culture and the place they have in it opinion wise. This can be done in two different manners: An active one, and a more relaxed, self-directed one. In the active one people will actively take part in the activity of sharing experiences in different situations and about different parts of culture and life. They relaxed one will be possible by watching this discussion evolve from a larger distance and reflect on the opinions of other people in silence.
The Chinese have a very special table culture. They do a lot of things and communicate when they are eating. It is a situation that we also want to make available and encourage outside of the breakfast/lunch/dinner context. However, the appearance of the setting will be different in detail since we do not want to completely mimic the dining situation.
We see this in the context of a quiet space like a park or a museum. This we want to do because we want to offer a quiet space for reflection on the culture. However, if the sharing of experiences heats up, this might disturb museum customers. We will have to consider this. On the other hand we believe that people who visit a museum enter with a more open mind for information and reflection on it.
To enable the conversation, we will place Chinese “dinner tables” in either the park or the museum. The food bowls on the table will contain pieces of digital food. The amount of pieces matches the number of people sitting at the table. The pieces of food can be lift up from the bowl using chopsticks in front of the users. Once every piece of food is removed from the bowl, a situation or part of life/culture can be seen. When someone at the table wants to share his/her experiences on it, he/she can slide the bowl to the center of the table and start the conversation. When the conversation is over, the bowl can put back in its original place. The table will include a glass overlay which can turn, to make the bowls visible and accessible to everyone. The food we will use is always rice related since it is of importance in the history of Taicang. The design of the food will also contain subtle hints to the context of the situation or part of life/culture underneath it, in the shape of classical Chinese images or objects.