Dorothea Bohde

The Mobile Table

Getting people on one table has become a symbol for corporation and the overcoming of differences. But this seems paradoxical, since the table itself bears a boundary: it constitutes a distance. The function of the table determines the maximal and minimal gap between the counterparts. In terms of the conversation this property of the table is purely incidental. The question of a proper closeness is answered from outside, but this very contingency makes it easy to be accepted. Much of the difficulties in interpersonal relations is due to the insecurity of a missing measurement for physical and intellectual closeness. It is this insecurity, which the table bridges.
But as there is no proper spatial measure, there’s also no temporal one for communication. One cannot specify the right distance between people in centimeter any better than the right time-span a conversation should take in minutes. It is very hard to judge the time for a discussion by its adequacy to the discussed topic. So, again we look for the measure on the outside: we examine the situation. But it is necessary to overlook the whole situation, to estimate it as a horizon for the communication. Dinner doesn’t only support a measure for the macro-level of conversation, also the length of breaks, the time between question and answer are not under the responsibility of the talker as such. As involved in a dinner he is committed to rules, which imposes breaks to the conversation from the outside.
These aids seem necessary, because we are missing an own measure for interpersonal relationships. My work “Mobile Tischgespräche” wants to sharpen the perception for such social phenomena.

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February, 2014