“To live together in the world means essentially that a world of things is between those who have it in common, as a table is located between those who sit around it; the world, like every in-between, relates and separates men at the same time.”
Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition
A SEAT AT THE TABLE is a proposal for a two-story table to be built and exhibited on the MIT campus, serving as both a physical and virtual platform for performances exploring issues of race, identity, and politics in architecture.
Starting in the Spring semester of 2021 with a graduate course titled, SUPERCOMMUNAL, this project stems from a larger research trajectory interested in the power of communal objects and their ability to create opportunities for dialogue— and storytelling as a tool for knowledge creation in that process. This narrative-based project is a challenge to the current disciplinary penchant for data-points versus relationships in architecture, positing that there is no neutral detail in the built environment.
The project centers around the ultimate domestic object of historic, emotional, and chemical transference: the dinner table. The work of this project can be divided into three courses: SETTING THE TABLE, DINNERTIME, CLEARING THE TABLE.
The first phase deals with the construction of a two-storied dinner table. The TABLE, an architectonic platform scaled to the dimensions of the theatrical, will serve the double task of interiorizing its activities within its constructed environment, while also communicating outwardly by recording and broadcasting itself. The TABLE will have built-in recording devices used to collect audio, movement data, and video. When the table is not engaged in physical use, this data will be composed into an audio experience emanating from the table itself via a built-in soundsystem.The ghostly history of the table will be present while not actively occurring in real-time or in the room itself.
DINNERTIME stages a series of performances, conversations, interviews, and dinners. CLEARING THE TABLE is a final film and book compiling the events, dialogues, and memories of the table.
The TABLE produces its own audio experience, compiling a final album - 36 CHAMBERS- of interviews, conversations, and dialogues.
An 8-channel speaker system is built into the table structure allowing for specific sounds to emanate from different seating positions. Each spatial sound condition, playing with separation and juxtaposition, allows for multiple narratives to exist simultaneously. In consultation with MIT Spatial Sound Lab, this sound system will focus on creating multiple sound experiences, each different and unique to each guest of the table.
Plan View, Arrangement B1.2
In the summer of 2021 tests will be conducted to develop the sound system in collaboration with sound engineers and musicians, developing the most successful method of recording, mixing, and arrangement - ultimately leading to a physical form that arises out of a careful choreography of sound. The tables ultimate structure, its legibility as object and its democratic and undemocratic members alike, will work in conjunction to produce specific narratives at particular auditory zones of the table, eradicating the flatness of any single or true experience.
The table will act as both stage, vesssel, and archive. Collecting, witnessing, listening, and speaking - blurring the lines of what participants are given access to, what they become implicated within, and what they hear.