[ISEA2006] Curator Statement: Steve Dietz – C4F3: the Interactive Cafe at San Jose Museum of Art

Curator Statement

The C4F3 at ISEA2006/ZeroOne San Jose is a working cafe of augmented everyday objects. Located inside the San Jose Museum of Art, it is more than just an art gallery, a restaurant, or a chill space. In the C4F3, technology and art reconfigure a familiar space into a unique environment only available during the festival. Visitors buying a cup of coffee get a new way to look at the news in Heidi Kumao’s CNNPlusPlus, which rearranges a live CNN feed in real time, or Mauricio Arango’s Vaninishing Point, which displays a continuous map of current events. Lunchtime diners find a tiny LCD embedded in their cafe table, displaying J.D. Beltran’s Secrets, while evening loungers can spend hours contemplating Living Wall, a wall of glowing live bacteria that react to sound, presented by Prion, an Australian collective of artists and biotechnology professionals.

From Osman Khan’s enCOD table of animated fish that swim around the objects on your table to Judith Donath and Karrie Karahalios’ Chit Chat Club, which brings virtual visitors from the Internet to your table, this cafe experience is different from any before.

C4F3 is not a utopian Cafe of the Future or a Worlds’ Fair showcase. Unlike those, it’s an experiment that examines the intersection of new technologies and everyday life. It’s a way to help people – makers, critics and observers alike – understand our relationship to a new class of objects. We are on the cusp of a world where information processing and biotechnology has changed many, if not all, objects around us. How does this change our everyday spaces and everyday experiences? The C4F3 may be one of the only places to explore this question firsthand.


Will Pappenheimer — C4F3 Interactive Cafe Installation:
A 10′ x 20′ rectangular canopy with LED lights is integrated into C4F3 Interactive Cafe at San Jose Museum of Art designed by Milan-based design firm Syneo. Installation visitors use the CRT monitor on the counter below to participate in the online lighting selection process.Internet participants choose issues and cultural color models which result in a designated color hue transferred to bays of colored LED lights. Web participants can see the change and status of the installation space via web camera. The shared experience is both the gift of the remote participant, as well as a gauge or color representation of the current world events. Installation visitors are then immersed in the ambient light.

“C4F3, the Interactive CafĂ©” is designed by Syneo

  • Steve Dietz, USA, ISEA2006 & Zero One Director