Max Dean, Raffaello D'Andrea, Matt Donovan

Robotic Chair

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 proceeds, with persistence and determination, to seek out its parts and upright itself. The "Robotic Chair" distinguishes itself in the world of objects through 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 the chair to support our bodies as we depend on the earth beneath our feet. The "Chair" stands in for the individual and society over the course of a life-time – falling down, falling apart, picking oneself up and gathering oneself together, again and again. The "Robotic Chair" reminds us, articulately and on a grand scale, that there is magic, that there is hope. The "Robotic Chair"'s seat houses a custom robot charged with the ambitious task of locating the scattered parts (legs and back), reassembling and 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.

Max Dean is a visual artist and has been producing works of significance for over 35 years. He is primarily known for his interactive kinetic installations that explore the nature of trust and control. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. Exhibition highlights include the "dAPERTutto" at the Venice Biennale in 1999; "Platea dell'umanita" at the Venice Biennale in 2001; "Voici, 100 years of contemporary art", Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels; "The Fifth Element", Kunsthalle Dusseldorf, "Iconoclash" and "Future Cinema" at ZKM, Karlsruhe. The "Robotic Chair" fulfills a twenty-year-long endeavour and continues Dean's exploration of robotics and art.

Raffaello D'Andrea is a recognized expert in the development, application, and commercialization of state-of-the-art algorithms and technology for designing and controlling complex autonomous systems. A full professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Raffaello currently holds the Dynamic Systems and Control Chair in the Mechanical Engineering department. He is a Technical Co-Founder and Chief Technology Advisor for Kiva Systems, a Boston area high-tech company that has developed a revolutionary material handling system utilizing hundreds of fully autonomous mobile robots. He is also an accomplished contemporary artist, with exhibitions at various international venue.

Matt Donovan is an artist, industrial designer, and conservator of kinetic artworks. He graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design and has since worked as an industrial designer for artists. Formally trained in Fine Arts, but with an instinctive understanding of engineering, he has built a career in which design and art are inseparable. Highlights include works with Hallie Siegel called 'History Machines'; the mechanical design of Max Dean's and Raffaello D'Andrea's "The Table"; and collaboration with Max Dean and Raffaello D’Andrea on the "Robotic Chair". Projects he has contributed to have exhibited at the National Gallery of Canada, and the Venice Biennale. He has exhibited at ARS Electronica, ARCO art fair, Luminato Festival, and the Olga Korper Gallery.