Most Amazing Booths, Demos and Awkward Public Spectacles at CES

The No-Eye-Contact Breakfast

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Oh, CES. We can always count on you to showcase humanity’s gross excess — as well as all those small, poignant, personal moments that show man at his most vulnerable.

In one booth you’ll find blinding video screens and bone-shaking bass. It’s AV as performance art, and CES at its most indulgent. Turn a few corners and you’ll find a manufactured spectacle so inappropriate and awkward — perhaps a man being shaved, or paid actors pretending to eat breakfast — you’ll reach for the sani-wipe in your pocket, if only as a rote gesture to erase the scene from memory.

Attendees themselves deliver performance art, too. Everyone looks somewhat misplaced and awkward at CES, but attendees never look less graceful than when reaching for cellphone cameras to take photos that will never, ever be looked at again.

The No-Eye-Contact Breakfast

Many manufacturers arrived at CES ready to argue the case that 3-D is not dead. To show off its continued investment in the hot-for-a-minute technology, Panasonic set up a fake 3-D movie shoot inside its booth on the expo floor.

Two actors sat at a table in the small set dressed up to look like the average American eat-in kitchen. The dual lenses of a 3-D camcorder gazed at them, and the 3-D image of the couple was displayed in real-time on a 3-D television next to it.

So what did the couple do? The woman, a pretty blonde dressed like she had just come from the yoga studio and the hair salon (in that order), flipped through a magazine and sipped tea with the forced smile of an overworked flight attendant. The husband, a 50-ish middle manager in Haggar slacks, munched on finger food and futzed with his laptop. They didn’t speak, they didn’t interact, they didn’t even look at each other. They just … sat there. It was like bad performance art. Or a Samuel Beckett play.

Passersby were invited to slip on some glasses and gaze in wonderment at this display of suburban ennui. Ooh, but look at the color depth!

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