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by Raffaello D’Andrea (CA) Max Dean (CA) Matt Donovan (CA)
“A completely normal chair, just like the ones typically found in school classes or waiting rooms, turns out to be a robot of all things! Before the eyes of the beholder, it repeatedly morphs back and forth between chair and robot. With the help of a built-in camera, the robot can assign its missing parts to their proper places. Thanks to special mechanical joints, the robot can reassemble the dispersed legs and back of the chair into a complete chair, only to morph back into a robot once again.” Prix Ars Electronica 2006, Honorary Mention Interactive Art
This chair is crazy. Just as our chair will be “magically” instilled with the ability to answer questions specific to the user, this chair is able to magically reassemble itself after it has fallen apart. Whereas our chair will advertise it’s magic powers, though, this chair camouflages itself as a normal school chair which adds to the marvel when it begins to move and fall apart.

The office furniture design company, Herman Miller, challenged a number of different designers to reinterpret the Charles and Ray Eames chair in honor of Charles Eames’ 100th birthday. A project that emerged from this pursuit was the Opportunity Chair. For the gallery installation, the seat and back were removed from the chair to make the statement that the world is in need and to solve these problems one should stand rather than sit. On-line, the chair is virtually divided into puzzle pieces representing current world issues such as Zero Waste, Food Supply, and Gender Equality. When you click on the puzzle pieces that make up the chair you are then presented with YouTube videos where participants pledge to work to change this world issue. This project takes away the comfort of the chair to call attention to the uncomfortable realities of problems that need to be solved today.

This project uses the construct of the chair to motivate change, interaction, and mobilization. In addition, the project links the physical chair with the ideas gathered from the Powers of Ten video to YouTube home video pledges.

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The Museum of Lost Interactions put together this exhibit, Forgotten Chairs, that move beyond design for necessity into a more creative realm. “Our exhibition of ten interactive chairs illuminates the genre beyond its familiar archetypes of rocking chairs, video arcade games and ejector seats. Once again we are grateful to a group studying Interactive Media Design who, informed by meticulous research and archive film, lovingly restored each chair to working order.” – Graham Pullin

This project as a whole acts as a history of the interactive chair to support our project and each of the individual chairs can inform our own. One project, the Phantasmagoria Chair, acted as a medium to the beyond as its creator had, as well:

“Between 1857 and 1908 Flora Cooke was a well-known name amongst the British followers of Spiritualism. Her demonstrations drew great crowds who witnessed her communications with the spirit Katie King. The turn of the century saw a decline in attendance and it is believed that Cooke crafted a tool to allow private demonstrations at her residence. Recently a derelict building in West London has uncovered this very tool: a chair. Documents discovered have given researchers an insight into the usage of the piece, named by Cooke as the Phantasmagoria Chair. Under Cooke’s guidance a member of the gathered circle would attempt to communicate with a spirit using the chair. They would be prompted to place their hands and feet on the metal conductors thus completing a theoretical electrical circuit, meant to collect the participant’s energy to power a spiritual connection and, in turn, allow the gathered group to contact the dead. The spirit would communicate by making words appear on the paper in front of the participant, which they would then read out, to the rest of the group.”

below: Phantasmagoria Chair

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December 2018
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