The Climbing Table is an interactive installation which invites up to four people to sit at a short table and to blindly explore a topographic landscape of CNC-milled plywood that features embedded buttons and switches. By pressing buttons and turning on switches in the correct combination, sounds are emitted from the table which ultimately play a chord. The concept strives to bring people close together and portray the individual unintentional and intentional actions that contribute to a larger effort. Ultimately, the project strives to represent the complexity of working with others and navigating tasks with a lens that magnifies the interaction and connection between people.
Sketch to Conception
The following collage was one that I had envisioned from the beginning coming to life. It would have been very difficult to get a completely plan view with long exposure, but this collage that my colleague, Christina Brown, made begins to capture that original diagram/idea.
Project Process Documentation
The Climbing Table was a challenge to fabricate, specifically the technological components. The digital fabrication went fairly smooth despite some hiccups with material acquisition and the post-processing went smoothly as well. The main challenge was managing the sheer quantity of wires and making sure that the soldered connections were maintained throughout the entire process. The project posed various challenges on the way which redirected its execution, but ultimately was altered to fit the concept, constraints, and original intent
The initial idea was to have a larger table with embedded LEDs, speakers, and vibration speakers. In developing the concept, various aspects of the idea were tweaked to address ideas of teamwork and group dynamics. For example, the proportions of the table were changed to a square in plan so that everyone had equal access to the buttons, which were placed in an array format.
Dealing with technology was where I learned the most lessons. Not only in regards to the wiring of the electronics and coding the Arduino, but also general lessons to carry forward. I learned that having everything working electronically separately from its housing is great, but then integrating it into the housing becomes a very fragile and frustrating process. I think in the future, I should try and start small and slowly build up the projects along with the technology, although perhaps more cumbersome, by working on the digital fabrication and electronic parts in parallel, I would have foreseen issues that came up like how I planned on embedding the switches or how I would house the tangled mess of wires and electronics. I also learned about general tips and tricks about wiring and electronics to put more effort upfront and have an easier time troubleshooting later on. Knowledge-wise, I learned a lot about how the logic chips work and got to try out some cool things!