The chair has its own passport. It even has a publicist. It flew to Washington, DC, Berlin, London, New York City, Miami, and San Francisco. The most famous fame monster of all, Lady Gaga, has played a starring role in spreading the word about Benjamin Rollins Caldwell, the Spartanburg-based artist who designed and created what is known as the Binary Chair.
Caldwell originally trained as a portrait painter, but found himself taking interior design jobs and started making furniture in 2010 under his moniker BRC Designs. His first efforts titled “Deuces Wild” were a series of chairs manufactured from thick decks of playing cards shipped directly to him from the casinos of Las Vegas— thousands came his way as casinos are only allowed to use a deck of cards for a few hours.
Haunting thrift shops, scavenging for vintage objects, and searching dilapidated factories and salvage yards, he stumbled on 11 palettes of discarded computers that became his, compliments of a Spartanburg warehouse owner. Fascinated with the idea of recycling the detritus of our technology- laden life, Caldwell ripped apart the computers and re-fashioned them as one- of-a-kind art furniture.
Assembled from motherboards, computer chips, hard-drive disks, LCD screens and towers, and fastened with sheet-metal screws, the Binary collection makes the obsolete brand-new. “I’m committed to e-cycling the e-waste of our modern lives, and as an artist I’m interested in challenging the views on disposing of this new type of pollution in our environment,” he says.
The work was on exhibit at Industry Gallery in Los Angeles in 2013, when a team member of the Haus of Gaga happened by and wanted to use the 200-pound Binary Chair in a photo shoot for Lady Gaga’s Artpop album’s promotional and video campaigns. Images were tweeted to thousands and instant buzz followed. Featured at Gaga’s private release party ArtRave: The Artpop Ball in New York, the chair was shown alongside artwork from three high-profile contemporary artists—Jeff Koons, Marina Abramovic, and Robert Wilson.
Next stop, the chair will visit Dubai for Design Days. Then later in the year, the chair will be catching a flight out west for what Caldwell calls a “binary technology tour” of Internet companies, where it
will be front and center at the event Art Silicon Valley. The Binary Collection pieces—the chair, along with a couch, coffee table, side table, and a mirror—will comprise an ironic and dazzling display for the minds who created the computer in the first place.