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Tabletop Experiments

A manifesto to celebrate 20 years of Tabletop Experiments.

1. The Tabletop Experiment is essentially amateur and DIY in its endeavour. It concerns science as recreation and as a practice that necessitates its own re-creation.

2. It is assembled from items readily available in the home, domestic technology; kitchen utensils, liquid soap or aquarium parts for example.

3. It is based upon a specific phenomenon of interest; an artefact of subjective perception, the physical behaviour of liquid, or the physical behaviours of an animal for example.

4. It is a discrete environment: a device, or instrument, within which a unique phenomenon can exist. Ideally this should be a rapidly developed prototype, which affords an aesthetic interplay between materials and technologies, driven by incidental function and serendipitous accident.

5. Sustain, maintain and nurture: These systems being susceptible to change within themselves and the environment that directly surrounds them, should be a precariously balanced system which demands nurturing. A thing on the cusp of failure. For example; A vortex sustained in a coffee cup, of turbulent patterns of oil on water, or the life of microorganisms in a single droplet of pond water.

6. Make time for focused study and experience. Make use of technologies to extended and expanded observation through amplification, projection, and magnification.

7. The Tabletop Experiment must be an active process or an artefact of such.

8. Embrace failure.

Antony Hall 2020

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