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Interactive Bar Tables

2004 | Tmema (Golan Levin & Zachary Lieberman) with Ars Electronica Futurelab

Interactive Bar Tables

The Interactive Bar Tables (2004: Golan Levin and Zachary Lieberman with the production of Ars Electronica Futurelab) are an interactive installation for cafe-like social venues, and an early example of a multi-touch surface in interactive art. The project forms the natural habitat of a species of creatures that exhibits a unique pattern of social behavior. When someone touches the surface of their virtual terrarium, these digital organisms react with playful curiosity. They flock to drinking glasses placed in their vicinity like hungry sharks, and teem around everything that enters their world. But have no fear: they dont bite. If you catch one with your fingers, it will follow your movements, and you can send it on in any direction and from table to table. Left alone, the creatures descend back into the depths of their digital environment. In this way, the colorful organisms become part of a communicative game involving the users of the Interactive Bar Tables, whereby the flow of communication extends throughout the individual terrariums and creates an interconnection among the participants.

The following 1'49" video documents the Interactive Bar Tables installation at its premiere in the new SAP regional headquarters, Berlin, February 2004; and in the American Museum of the Moving Image (AMMI), May 2004, as part of the Interactions/Art and Technology exhibition. This video is also available at Vimeo and YouTube.

Additional Resources
High-resolution photographs of this project are available at this Tmema photoset at Flickr.

The Interactive Bar Tables tables were developed with the generous support of SAP and the Ars Electronica Futurelab. The animated "noodle" lifeforms in this project were also used in The Hidden Worlds of Noise and Voice. More information about the Interactive Bar Tables can be found at its web page at the Ars Electronica Futurelab.

Images (click to enlarge)

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