Main Collaborator: Max Dean
The Table selects a person in the installation space and then builds up non-verbal communication with them.
A video camera on the ceiling tracks the chosen visitor and the Table, whose movements are controlled by various algorithms. If the chosen person is unresponsive the Table tries harder, following them about the space. In doing this, the Table switches the roles of viewer and art object. The attention of other visitors is focused on the person ‘selected’ by the Table, making them the object of attention.
The Table does not interact with everyone, just one person at a time. Robert Enright reports in the cover story of “Border Crossings” how visitors encounter the Table:
“One perturbed young man seems prepared to engage the table in a combat; a family is initially wary and ultimately playful; a woman ends up dancing with the table in an unrehearsed pas de deux. But the most telling encounter comes from a pair of women who display mixed reactions to the table’s movements. When one of them puts her hand on the table, it abruptly moves away. ‘I don’t think it likes to be touched,’ she says. Then her friend places her hand on the table in what comes close to a caress and the edgy piece of furniture doesn’t move. The response of the first woman is heartbreaking, the lament of anyone who has been jilted in love: ‘Oh, maybe it’s just me’, she whispers.”
The Table was first unveiled in 2001 at the Venice Biennale, and is now a part of the National Gallery of Canada’s permanent collection.