Telematic Dinner Party: Dining together from afar

This post is part of an ongoing narrative about how media affects our interactions with food.

Sitting down to a meal with friends and family is one of life’s greatest pleasures. It just isn’t the same when loved ones can’t join us. If only they had a magic carpet so they could come from afar and poof! be at the table with us in an instant.

Enter the Telematic Dinner Party (TDP).

In 2011, researchers in the UK used technology to allow people in different countries to attend dinner parties together in real time (Barden, Comber, Bryan-Kinns, Stockman, & Olivier, 2012). At each location, speakers in chairs represented the remote guests and allowed them to hear each other, tabletop projections allowed them to see each other, and still other technology allowed them to interact physically (p.1). One such example was synchronized turntables that allowed guests in one locale to rotate a plate of food on their own table and likewise on the remote guests’ table as if they were there rotating the plate in person (p.1).

That was not the first TDP, though. This video of an earlier TDP, the 2001 project Liveform:Telekinetics by Jeff Mann and Michelle Teran, highlights how their guests interacted via technology. The remote wine pour looks fun!

Using technology to allow people to remotely dine together is an example of convergence between the physical and digital worlds that enables the evolution of our relationship with food (and with one another). It also demonstrates the “shrinking world” concept of globalization and hearkens to Janet Murray’s (2003) comments in her introduction to The New Media Reader, in which she discusses our affinity for the spatial and participatory properties of computers (p. 6).

TDPs aren’t yet a reality outside of these experiments, but in a sense they bring us one step closer to the fantastic—albeit improbable—notion of magic carpets that whisk friends to our side in the blink of an eye. Who knows – maybe one day TDPs will be widely available, even commonplace. After all, many new media technologies that we take for granted today started out as yesterday’s wild dreams.


Barden, P., Comber, R., Bryan-Kinns, N., Stockman, T., & Olivier, P. (2012). The Telematic Dinner Party – tdp_siggraph.pdf. Retrieved from

Murray, J. H. (2003). Inventing the medium. In N. Wardrip-Fruin & N. Montfort (Eds.), The new media reader (pp. 3-11). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

ubermatic. (2009, February 8). The Telematic Dinner Party [Video file]. Retrieved from

This entry was posted in Evolution of food through media and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Telematic Dinner Party: Dining together from afar

  1. 1-This blog is one of the best I have seen in our class group in terms of using New Media to its full potential. You have used comments and referred back to our readings in every post. In this one in particular you linked the “shrinking world” concept of globalization with the reading from Janet Murray The New Media Reader, in which she discusses our affinity for the spatial and participatory properties of computers (p. 6).” Just imagining that this could be a possibility is unbelievable, yet it could be a reality in the near future.

    2-In this blog you used many of the New Media elements, from a link to an article researchers in the UK The Telematic Dinner Party, to posting a video about the Telematic Dinner Party to explain your point, then linked this blog with your previous post How Media Affects our Interactions with Food, and finally you found a New Media that is progress to becoming a New Media in the near future. I would say the TDP Experiments you discussed would link directly with what we have learned so far, that New Media will be ever changing, and this particular change will be coming our way maybe sooner than we think.

    3- You have used New Media to your advantage in this blog as well as your other posts. You were able to embed a video feed from YouTube to entertain as well as explain your point about being able to one day be whisked like on a magic carpet into the dinning room of friends or family, to dine with them with the help of New Media. As you explained this new experiment is a wild dream today for engineers and scientists trying to bring people together even while thousands of miles separate them, but tomorrow it could be a reality. If you had had to use old media instead of be able to embed the video, something lets say like power point it would have been long and boring. Seeing the moving images make the idea more plausible. It could have been only text and that would not have transmitted what the moving images did. We had the impression because of the moving images that this improbable experiment could be a reality in the near future and be the newest form of New Media.


    • lgmediageek says:

      Thank you for the kind words. I’m glad you enjoyed the Telematic Dinner Party post. I find the notion of TDPs pretty mind-blowing and will be interested to see what comes out of these experiments. You raise a good point about my including the video: It drives home the TDP concept much better than I could have using words alone. A video is worth a thousand words!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s