Reina Suyeon Mun, Class of 2023


SilenceTop is an interactive microarchitecture object that responds to silences in different scenarios. It is a reimagination of a low table for coffee and tea. SilenceTop aims to reframe the landscape of domestic spaces by constructing an alternate form of interactivity with the object around the subject of silence. Silence does not exist in a distinctive form. It gets recognized when the apparent social activities and sound fade out. The reading of silence varies from person to person based on their cultural background and the circumstance it is situated in. It can be regarded as a sign of respect to one while bringing awkward and anxious emotions to the others. The experience and the reading of silence the object conveys are not fixated.

The object has two modes- social and lone mode. Social mode is active when two or more people sit around the object. When silence persists for a certain amount of time in social mode, it intervenes by plucking the kalimba consisting of low-pitch semitone tines. The tones may be appealing or annoying depending on the people, but the only way to stop listening to the semitones is to open a conversation again. The aggressiveness and speed of the semitones plucked are increased with each repetition of social silence occurring in one sitting. Lone mode is active when a single person is in the vicinity or nobody is in the same space. During lone mode, SilenceTop regards silence as a need to last and appreciate. When silence occurs in lone mode, the object generates mists that permeate the room over time, creating an atmospheric and relaxed ambiance.

Reina Suyeon Mun works in the field of design and new media art. She mainly creates micro-architectures, spatial installations, reimagined devices, and objects through the embodiment of interactivity, autonomy, and behaviors. Her works aim to provide the user with space for reflections on topics ranging from social, techno-politics, and ubiquitous matters.

About the ACT Studio:

The ACT Studio serves as a space for participants to develop their independent practices in relation to each other’s work and in the context of the Art, Culture, and Technology program (ACT) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The understanding and interpretation of each of these terms – art, culture, and technology – can vary significantly between each of the 14 participants; through shared readings, intimate conversations in small groups around each participant’s work, the spring 2022 ACT Studio aimed at developing a common language to allow for a fruitful conversation between the diverse practices of its participants.

In April, a study trip was organized to New York City, the first official out-of-campus travel since the beginning of the pandemic in the spring of 2020. During the weekend, the studio participants visited several art galleries and museums; on Sunday the 11th, they were hosted in the morning by Participant Inc.’s founder, Lia Gangitano; in the afternoon, the studio gathered at Bortolami Gallery in Tribeca, where a seminar took place in the gallery’s upstairs with the invited guests: geographer and abolitionist activist professor Ruth Wilson Gilmore, and Dia Art Foundation curator Jordan Carter.

The trip culminated on Monday, April 12th, with a full-day visit to the Whitney Biennial 2022: Quiet as it’s Kept, in which the instructor Renée Green’s work is included. after visiting the overall exhibition, the act studio engaged in an extended and intimate conversation with the biennial curators, Adrienne Edwards and David Breslin.