Willem Velthoven

Symbolic Table Inspirators 01

We are standing on the shoulders of giants

Symbolic table is a new and unique RFID tool for cultural use. It is based on proven technology (RFID) and on Prior Art. There are 2 projects, one from 1988 and one from 1992, that together were my inspiration to start the Symbolic Table project.


Imaginary Museum of Revolution - A little statue is placed on a sensor that recognises it so it can trigger matching AV streams. Image scanned from Mediamatic vol 2, issue 4, june 1988

The first was the Imaginary Museum of Revolution by Tjebbe van Tijen en Jeffrey Shaw. In Mediamatic vol 2, issue 4 of june 1988, we published their plan for this enormous multi media exhibition of 200 revolutionary moments in modern history. The plan was a competition entry for Parc La Villette in Paris. It contained all kinds of fancy interactive video (using Laser Disk(!) and life size roproductions of revolution monuments.

The thing that I liked the most however were the vending machines (sponsored by Wurlizer). The vending machines contained little toy reproductions of the monuments. For a couple of french francs, you'd buy a statue and take it into the exhibition. The laserdisk machines would have sensors to read the code and play the appropriate AV material to your statuette. This idea to use a meaningful object as your key to the exhibit immediately got stuck in my mind! A brilliant way of avoiding the unattractive area of interactive screens, pointing devices, buttons and what have you to communicate with a machine.