The chair has its own passport. It even has a publicist. It flew to Washington, D.C., 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.
Benjamin originally trained as a portrait painter, but found himself taking interior design jobs and ultimately started making furniture in 2010 under his moniker BRC Designs. His first efforts entitled “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, searching dilapidated factories and salvage yards, he stumbled on eleven palettes of discarded computers which became his – compliments of a Spartanburg warehouse owner. Fascinated with the idea of recycling the detritus of our technology-heavy life, Benjamin 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.
(For more info about the Binary Chair, read Ruta Fox’s complete article in the March 2014 issue of TOWN.)
Fastforward to HeadVROOM
With all the hype about the Binary Chair, you might assume that Benjamin’s TEDxGreenville talk will be about the infamous chair, right? Hmmmmm. When he heard he was nominated, he spent much time mulling over his topic.
“I have always watched TED talks via the TED website as well as on YouTube,” he says. “I was excited… I knew the talk would somehow involve my art, but I didn’t know what the overarching theme of the talk would be. I really wanted to come up with an idea worth sharing, so my mind was racing with the phrase talk about what?”
His TEDxGreenville program team advocate, David Stefanich, served as a sounding board to help refine his focus.
“When looking at the world through the eyes of an artist, the colors are more vivid, the sounds are crisper, and the future is full of promise,” David says. “This description defines the first conversation I had with Ben. The use of visionary adaptation of re-used items to create the future continues to astound the lay person. Ben is more that just an artist, he has introduced a process and approach to the creative process that delivers in many creative and surprising mediums.”
Curator Lisa Marie Corley believes Benjamin’s message will resonate with audience members, from creative professionals to anyone who has sought meaning in an individual challenge. “Ultimately, Benjamin was drawn toward a very personal, very tough topic through which his art is intimately woven,” she shares. “Audience members will be greatly impressed by his strength and talents.”
“I hope that there may be people in the audience who will be inspired by my message and find their own unique outlet,” Benjamin relates. “At the least, I hope someone might be inspired creatively through the images that they will see during my talk.”
Benjamin’s topic will be revealed at the April 10th annual conference.