Nora & Torvald

Nora & Torvald (2010)

Birch plywood, Arduino micro-controllers, sensors, speakers, audio.

Nora 18″ (L) x 18″ (B) x 18″ (H), TORVALD 18″(L) x 18″(B) x 30″ (H)

The starting point of this work is a re-reading of Henrik Ibsen’s play “A Doll’s House” (1879) as a means by which to explore relationships. For this work we wanted to concentrate on the relationship between the play’s main characters husband and wife Nora Helmer and Torvald Helmer. For us the Helmer’s relationship is a metaphor for the taken for granted and often disposable nature of contemporary products. The play explores the delicate balance and inherent conflict between valuing the self (Nora) and the expectations of society (Torvald). For Nora & Torvald we wanted to concentrate on this intimacy of the user-user to user-object relationship. Nora & Torvald embeds sensor-controlled digital media in custom-designed pieces of furniture. There is an accelerometer in the rocking stool Nora. When she is rocked this triggers a line of her dialogue from a library of selected lines from “A Doll’s House” to be played as audio. There is a photocell embedded in the seat of the armchair Torvald. This sends a message when it registers darkness (i.e. when someone sits down). This also triggers a line of his dialogue from the play to be played as audio.

Sample dialogue (when 2 people are sitting and rocking):

T: This time I needn’t sit here and be dull all alone. You have just come at a fortunate moment.
N: It’s wonderful! Wonderful things don’t happen every day. Take this armchair; I will sit here in the rocking-chair.
T: Has anyone been here?
N: What a thoughtless creature I am, chattering away like this.
T: You can depend on me.
N: It will make me so happy to be of some use to you.
T: Don’t disturb me. Look straight at me.
N: I am in a silly mood today. Come and sit down here, and I will show you something.

Other versions of this project have been shown in various formats.

Nora & Torvald (the romance novel) is now part of ‘The Love Librarycurated by Chido Johnson (shown at MOCAD in 2012).

Drawings of the furniture were shown as part of ‘Drawing on Sculpture’ at the Beatrice M. Haggerty Gallery, University of Dallas, Irving, Texas in 2010.

An expanded set of furniture was first shown as et dukkehjem in the exhibition ‘Chain Reaction’ at the Museum of the City of Skopje, Skopje, Macedonia in 2008. This included Krogstad a table by Metropolitan Architecture Practice and Mrs. Linde – a lamp by PLY Architecture both with custom electronics by rootoftwo. Our participation in ‘Chain Reaction’ was supported by Trust for Mutual Understanding.