Ben Alun-Jones’ latest work is an attempt at the impossible: invisibility. ‘There is something of an ideology in chair design,’ he explains, ‘that really what you want to sit on is nothing – like you’re supported by air. That’s how I began creating a chair that, in a way, wasn’t there. A structure made out of light.’ The ‘Affinity Chair’ is unlikely to win any prizes for comfort, but it pulls off an impressive vanishing act.
Plastic acrylic sheet and one-way mirror film are used to create a structure that reflects and merges with its surroundings. The chair not only responds to and camouflages itself to match its environment, it also interacts directly with the sitter: sensors activate pulsing LEDs hidden within its frame that quicken like a heart beat as it is approached. The effect is eerie: as the chair is lit from within, its reflective surfaces becomes transparent and all its edges are illuminated. The chair’s disappearance is an attempt at escape; yet this strangely animate object remains rooted to the spot, it’s vanishing body revealing a further hidden space within.
Alun-Jones’ explains his work as using technology itself as an artistic medium to challenge existing perceptions. His materials are unconventional – LEDs, ultrasonic sensors, custom-built and programmed circuit boards. The result is new, challenging, and anything but robotic.
The Affinity Chair will feature at the Royal College of Art Interim Show (Wed 2nd – Mon 7th Feb) as well as appearing at V&A Connects with… ARTS THREAD (Tues 25th Jan) and the V&A Digital Festival (Sat 5th March), both at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.
Acrylic, Mirror Film, LED, Ultrasonic sensor, Custom Electronics and Code
Photography : Luke Bennett
Designer: Ben Alun-Jones