The Robotic Chair (1984 – 2006) is a generic-looking wooden chair with the capacity to fall apart and put itself back together. With shuddering force the chair collapses to the floor then with persistence and determination proceeds to seek out its parts and upright itself. The Robotic Chair is distinguished in the world of objects for its capacity to elicit empathy, compassion and hope.
As an object, the chair has been a constant and trustworthy partner in the history of civil society. We depend on the chair to support our bodies as we depend upon the earth beneath our feet. The Robotic Chair stands in for the individual and a society over the course of a lifetime – falling apart, falling down, gathering oneself together, picking oneself up, again and again. The Robotic Chair articulately and concisely reminds us on a grand scale that there is magic – that there is hope.
The Robotic Chair seat houses a custom robot charged with the ambitious task of locating the scattered parts (legs and back), reassembling itself, then restoring itself to its former chair status. The chair acts autonomously guided by an overhead vision system and is not dependent on viewer presence or interaction to perform. The Robotic Chair is a collaborative project by artist Max Dean, professor/entrepreneur Raffaello D’Andrea and artist/industrial designer Matt Donovan.
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