Kehai (2010)

Running Time: 1 minute 24 seconds

Khai is an interactive installation that centers on an old, well-worn living room chair that is augmented with the ability to sense and respond to touch. As people take a seat and place their hands on the armrests, an audio soundscape automatically begins to fill the space in the form of everyday domestic sounds (like the running of a vacuum, the tones of a grandfather clock and a cat meowing). Each armrest of the chair (the left and the right) functions as its own conduit to this audio experience, so laying both hands on the chair at the same time acts to layer the cacophony of sound.

Kehai was completed as a collaboration project between me and fellow new media artist, Shiori Saito.

Kehai (2010) Kehai (2010) Kehai (2010)
Kehai (2010) Kehai (2010) Kehai (2010)

Eastern philosophy adopts the idea of "Ma", a negative space or space in between, to perceive emptiness as presence. "Kehai" is a Japanese word for the sense of presence. Inspired by this idea, our objective with the interactive installation is to connect people with an audio history of the imagined environments that the chair has dwelled in during its lifetime. Though these environments can't be seen, their presence is nonetheless felt through the sound snippets stitched into the fabric of the seat.


Kehai was initially developed as a submission to a chair themed art exhibition called 'Take a Seat' that was held in High River, AB, in September 2010. The technology for the installation borrowed heavily from both mine and Shiori's previous experimentations with integrating Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) sensors into common, everday objects. The conductive thread, for instance, that was used to stitch the touch sensitive traces into the upholstery of the chair was the same thread used in my past project, The Sound of Weaving.

All programming for the soundscape controller was completed using Processing. An Arduino microcontroller embedded underneath the chair acted as the hub for sensing and relaying the GSR signals.


  • Processing
  • Conductive thread
  • Arduino microcontroller
  • Custom circuitry