Books & Talks

Table Talk at Olson Kundig’s Storefront

Table Talk is the latest – and arguably, the most thought-provoking – installation of an ongoing series of Storefront projects in the large open space below the Olson Kundig offices in Pioneer Square. The installation features large, highly functional tables constructed by none other than the Olson Kundig architects, who have a hand in all of the Storefront installations in this space. While the space is open to the public most days from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30pm, it is currently reserved for use on Thursdays for recorded conversations that are part of a series of sessions designed with the MCDM (Master of Communication in Digital Media) program at University of Washington. I stopped in last week to see how it all works:

“The Table of Truth” (below), suspended from the ceiling, measures 16’x4′ and features built in cameras and voice-activated microphones mounted on a center column that is raised and lowered with a large crank at either end.

A set table awaits diners for a lunch time conversation that will be recorded and archived for use in the MCDM program at UW.

Food is prepared in the space at the rear of the room – the day’s menu is displayed above the counter

Michael Hebb, inaugural fellow of the MCDM program (below), developed the Table Talk concept with MCDM associate director Scott Macklin. Hebb also prepares the meals for each Thursday session.

Diners discuss the day’s topic – The course, COM 592 is centered around the subject of death and dying. Table Talk explores the idea of dinner conversations in a largely digital age, begging the question, “What if our most intimate conversations (those held at the dinner table and those dealing with death and dying) were recorded and available to the public?”.

Donald Byrd (below), Artistic Director of Spectrum Dance Theater, speaks with another guest at the table. Guests were encouraged to speak openly about their personal thoughts on death.

The Olson Kundig space fits the classroom/dining room format of the installation well.