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Balance from Within – 170-year-old robotic sofa balances on a single point

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Created by Jacob Tonski, artist-in-residence at the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, “Balance from Within” is an installation that includes a 170-year-old Victorian sofa which balances precariously on one leg, continuously teetering, responding internally to external forces. Inside the body of the sofa, a robotic assembly maintains balance dynamically. As the sofa begins to fall, the mechanism senses tilting and exerts a force appropriate to counter the falling, resulting in an endless wobbling back and forth.

Balance comes from within. It’s a delicate act, and sometimes we fall down. ‘Balance from Within’ is a meditation on the nature of human relations, and the things we build to support them.

The sofa uses a reaction wheel, design commonly used by orient satellites in space where second axes added to the mechanism allows the sculpture to balance on a single point. If the sculpture falls, which can easily occur even if small amount of pressure is put on the sofa, separate pieces of the sofa are held together with strong magnets meaning it can quickly be put back together.

Support and research for Balance from Within began through a residency at the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry in summer 2010, made possible through support from the Pennsylvania Council for the Arts. The project was completed in 2013 with finishing support from the School of Creative Arts, Miami University, Ohio, and exhibited at the 2013 FILE festival in Brazil.

Project PageJacob Tonski | STUDIO for Creative Inquiry


/via Golan

Filed under: Objects


Editor-in-chief at CreativeApplications.Net, co-founder and editorial director at HOLO Magazine, director of platform at FRM and researcher/lecturer at the University of Westminster, London.

  • John Wesley Baker

    That is freaking brilliant. I love it!!! I like the fact that it is designed with the worst case scenario in mind. Often in organizations and companies there answer to “What if this happens?” is met with… “We hope that doesn’t happen?” While hope is a wonderful thing it should never be confused with poor planning. I always tell the people I work with on projects that planning is a much better use of our time then fixing.

    Also it is portant to understand that wishing people behaved a certain way is not a very practical strategy to dealing with society. Trying to control people or get them to act in a certain way only irritates them or they simply rebel. Instead coming up with ways to account for human interaction and “Human Error” can lead to better solutions for everyone.

    So as apposed to putting up ropes or fencing around the sculpture, hoping the sculpture will not fall over, or by placing signs telling people to not touch it you have accounted for all 3 inevitabilities by designing the sculpture to live in the real world.

    I wish more companies and organizations would take this approach.