Max Dean, "Robotic Chair," installation view. PHOTO: NICHOLA FELDMAN-KISS
Robotic Chair, February 12 to April 11, 2010, Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery
BY: Jill Sawyer
In February, the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery will reopen after a year-long renovation, bringing Max Dean’s kinetic sculpture Robotic Chair to Alberta for the first time. A collaboration between the artist, professor Raffaello D’Andrea, and artist / industrial designer Matt Donovan, this remarkable piece animates one of the world’s most mundane objects. Collapsing, and then finding its way back into wholeness again, it’s striking that this robotic motion can elicit an emotional response in the viewer — the chair appears to take on a monumental struggle, and the audience roots for it as it collects all its limbs and then slowly bends back upright. The project is the result of a 20-year endeavour to explore the possibilities of robotics in kinetic installation, and psychological responses they inspire. Dean has represented Canada twice at the Venice Biennale, and has exhibited his work at the Kunsthalle Dusseldorf, and at the Vancouver Art Gallery. The Robotic Chair has been acquired into the collection of the National Gallery of Canada.