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Dinner and a Movie Installation


Flagler College



Course Level


Conversation points for instructors

Through choosing and analyzing a movie, this assignment serves as a tool to recognize and apply the elements and principles of design and practice developing content and meaning in their artwork. It provides students an opportunity to develop personalized ideas they then use to construct a sculptural dinner installation.

3D Design and above



Project Prompt / Challenge

Using your movie research as inspiration, create a sculptural dinner table setting / installation for at least one person.



  • While you are developing ideas for your dinner setting installation (for at least one person) remember  table setting designs vary among cultures and differ depending on the rituals they embody.

  • The dinner setting arrangement serves as a foundation. You do not need to use traditional objects OR if you do employ traditional objects, use them because these objects visually and conceptually communicate your idea. Consider innovation. You want the installation to tell a story – a story the viewer must mentally investigate. 

  • The installation will occupy a surface area measuring approximately 24” x 20”.  

  • The final solution will be photographed from above, aerial view. Crop in tightly so only the installation occupies the picture plane. 

  • Have you used the entire surface area (24" x 20")?

  • Used at least eight (8) objects?

  • Made at least three (3) photos of your final solution/installation?

    • One (1) full aerial view.

    • Two (2) details. 

  • Use objects you have at home and/or from nature. Use with innovation. 

  • You may alter objects – paint, break, break and reassemble, stitch, wrap with string, etc... 

  • Your goal: Your chosen movie is not immediately recognized when viewing the artwork.

    • Viewers should have to investigate and question what they are viewing.

    • It's okay if the viewer does not guess what movie you used as inspiration.

    • Remember, the viewer may not have seen the movie you chose.

    • Viewers will perceive your artwork based on their own experiences. 

  • The movie is a starting point for content. For example, if the movie includes ideas or characters related to science, your dinner setting can take on a “scientific theme” while utilizing the elements and principles your observed in the movie.

  • Avoid clichés. Avoid predictable solutions. 

  • Do not simply "illustrate" the content of the movie with your objects. 


Ideas for the surface:
  • The surface is the area where the dinner setting will be placed and photographed. The surface area will be included in the final photograph.

  • Setting up outside – In the grass, a pile of leaves, concrete, picnic table, other places?

    • Note – it could be difficult to photograph with shadows from the sun. 

  • Setting up inside – Since the entire surface may not be included in your final photographs, you have many options.

    • Look for surfaces in your home that can reference your idea

    • You might choose to create your own surface.

    • Look in your closet – can patterns on clothes support your idea?

      • If so you can spread out a garment and use it as “tablecloth”.

      • Or maybe you can weave together ties or belts? 

  • Adapt items from outside:

    • Weave/stack sticks

    • Weave palm fronds

    • Create a bed of flowers

    • Make sure no bugs are hiding on items before bringing them inside

    • Sticks have many options. For instance, what if you: peeled the bark and sanded them? Or, tie or wrap the sticks with another material? Or, paint the sticks?


Step 1. Tippy-top of Creative Funnel Cloud. LOOK.
  • Research the inspirations and examples provided.

Step 2. Top of Creative Funnel Cloud, middle area. ANALYZE.
  • Complete the first two pages of the research, Analyze Movie "A" and "B". (See handout below)

Step 3. Top of Creative Funnel Cloud, bottom area. EXPLORE. 
  • Many ideas are swirling around inside your head. You don’t know if your ideas will work. Generate as many ideas as possible so you can sift through options and develop a cohesive concept.

  • Consider all options and write down your thoughts on the handout. 

Step 4. Middle of Creative Funnel Cloud, top area. SKETCH. 
  • In the Research Packet, there is space to complete two sketches for each movie.

  • Important – Photograph completed handout (five pages) and post in the discussion group. Each student has a discussion thread. Post in the thread where your name appears.

Step 5. Center of Creative Funnel Cloud. GATHER. 
  • Gather tangible objects. You don’t  know if the items you are gathering will work. Gather as many items as possible so you can sift through ideas. 

  • Explore your environment – inside and out. 

  • Examine items in your home – in every room. 

  • Do more than simply visually scanning your environment – dig through junk drawers, kitchen drawers, your closet, the garage. Pick up items and examine from several angles. 

  • Do you have a collection of board games? Perhaps game pieces can be used to develop your concept. You can use food – prepared food or food you prepare yourself. Or use multiple objects- like building a string of paper clips? Arrange toothpicks in a certain way? Incorporate the textures and color of cooking spices? 

  • Go outside – examine nature. Are objects from nature useful for your idea? Sew leaves together? Arrange blades of grass? Maybe all objects used in the installation are from nature?

  • Gather all objects you think might be useful.

  • Consider ways your items may serve as metaphors.

  • How might you create metaphor through the ways you arrange your objects?


Step 6. Middle of Creative Funnel Cloud, bottom area. ASSESS. 
  • Find a place to sit down with the objects you collected. 

  • Start exploring the arrangement of objects. Every object you include and the manner in which it is portrayed should significantly reflect your idea.  

  • Start with your elements and principles. For instance, is there a lot of repetition in your selected movie? If so, you could have multiple of the same item. Is there chaos in the movie? If so, the objects can be scattered/unorganized – diagonal line direction. 

  • Remember: The dinner setting arrangement serves as a foundation.

    • You do not have to use traditional objects

    • OR if you do use traditional objects, it is because these objects visually communicate your idea AND the objects are used with innovation.

    • You want the installation to tell a story – a story that the viewer has to mentally investigate. 


  • For instance, if you use a strand of pearls to communicate femininity – consider how the pearls are presented. In a tidy circle? Maybe to symbolize a plate? Jumbled in the center of a fine china plate? Or contrast against a piece of metal used to represent a plate. What if the pearls are wrapped around/tied to another object? 

  • Important – Make photos of your brainstorming steps, showing your progress, and post at least three pictures in the class discussion thread.


Step 7. Bottom of Creative Funnel Cloud, top area. ASSEMBLE. 
  • Begin to assemble your final solution.

  • Take the time to step back and evaluate and re-evaluate your idea, as you go. 

  • Re-arrange and/or replace items that feel predictable and/or are not well-crafted. 


Step 8. Final stretch! PHOTOGRAPH.
  • One image, aerial view, directly above the installation. Make sure cropped in tight. Do not include information outside the surface area.

  • Two detail images - a close-up of the installation. 

  • Submit your images online. Label them like this:


Dinner_1_LastName, Dinner_2_LastName, Dinner_3_LastName

  • You are welcome to submit more than three images.


Items from nature, items in your home, and any other materials you deem necessary. 


2 - 3 weeks


Dinner and a Movie Research Handout:

Student Examples:



Additional Tips:

I created this assignment in response to moving to online learning during Covid-19. My students had already completed a ten-page research packet for my Fluxus Box assignment before we went online. In addition to analyzing selected movies, the packet included exercises related to semiotics (very basic).


Since packets were complete before we went online, I decided to apply their movie research to making an installation done at home, with readily available materials. Hence, the dinner setting. I left behind the info on semiotics, as students struggle with these concepts in class, when I explained them in person.  


Although most students produced successful Dinner and a Movie results, many struggled. I spent large amounts of time emailing and talking to students on the phone. I see their struggles resulting from the students juggling moving/living situations/having all their classes online and, of course, the lack of a studio environment to share ideas at all stages of development.


My school will have face-to-face classes in the fall. However, faculty need to prepare all classes to be offered online. I made changes to the assignment steps and created a research packet specifically for this assignment. I will give it another try in the fall as the assignment can be adapted to the studio, as well as completed online.


I am open to suggestions for improvement.

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