The Sentient Chair

A physical and critical game developed by Fernanda Duarte, Brent Simoneaux and Samara Mouvery in 2012 during the course “Introduction to Physical Computing” at NC State, with David Rieder . The Sentient Chair consists of a chair installed with a piezzo element in the seat, a sequence of LEDs in the armchair, a sonar and a speaker in the back. The sonar installed in the back of the seat  measures the distance between the chair and any objects behind it as the speaker emits a beat sound. The greater the distance, the greater is the interval between each beat. As objects and/people approach the chair, the beat’s rhythm grows faster. At the same time, the participant sits in the chair, a piezzo element acknowledging shifts in weight. If the participant manages to sit still, the first LED of the sequence lights up. The participant is therefore participating in a ‘game’ in which the longer she remained to sit still (as in the piezzo element installed in the seat did not measure any weight shift) she is compensated with the advancing of the LED sequence (as in another LED installed in the armchair would light up if the minimum time of stillness were achieved). In a sense, what the Sentient Chair proposes is an exercise of domestication of the body, in which the participant is ‘taught’ to be immobile to receive a reward.