Seth Abramson

*STAR Chairs (sit, tap, and rock)

Rocking Chairs that make the sun rise, birds sing, and thunder crash when engaged.



For my thesis I will build two rocking chairs that interface sound and theatrical lighting. These chairs will allow a creative and playful interface for participants which will be intuitive and familiar.

There are quite a few American songs titled "Rocking Chair", or something similar. Much of the aesthetic of this piece is derived from references in those songs by such musicians as the Mills Brothers, the Band, Ray Charles, Tom Waits, and many more. David Gordon, a sucessful modern dancer and choreographer in the early 1980's, produced a series of pieces that utilized regular plastic and metal chairs as props which were explored through the movement in his work.

Anyone who is interested in the chairs should be able to interact with them with little more guidance than an invitation. Their interface is specially designed to be easy and natural with a wide spectrum of appeal.

User Scenario
Someone sits in one of the chairs. Birds begin to chirp, wind chimes ring, the sun appears to rise. A variety of sound loops and subtle lighting effects create the sensation of morning. Another person sits in the other chair. A storm is heard in the distance. Light flickers increasingly with each thunder clap. The storm ends and night sounds begin. The loop of scenes continue until the chairs are empty, in which case they are silent.


The STAR Chairs have evolved continuously over the past semester. Since their original manifestation for the NIME performance, they have been simplified significantly. The chairs now hold to a story board of sorts, creating an environment which they control. At first, lights and sound make a sunrise scene. As the chairs rock through the sounds and lighting of morning a storm slowly appr

I learned the value of elegant simplicity. If something is easy to interface it is all the more likely to be embraced by its user or audience. This project has helped me to understand some basic principals for designing a natural interface which I believe is an extraordinarily valuable skill set. Finally, I learned that people like to play with things they don't understand. People seem to be attracted to things that are comfortable yet new at the same time.