Louis Ghost Chair continues a line of subtle and engaging moving-image works by Simon Martin that meditate on particular moments and directions in art and/or design history. At the heart of many of these oblique, discursive reflections is a specific, iconic object – an item of furniture, a sculpture, or a museum piece from a particular canon or collection.
The classic design of the Louis XV armchair, and its enduring cachet and significance, is the starting point of this short film, which goes on to consider the object’s contemporary afterlife in the form of Philippe Starck’s tribute/update Louis Ghost Chair. From antique period-piece to modern-day style accessory, the chair’s transition from wood to plastic, from artisan workshop to high-tech assembly line, traces an arc of reproduction and dematerialisation that is illuminated in a voiceover commentary that itself replicates some of the features of 'classic’ TV documentary.
The voiceover’s line of enquiry is expanded by the introduction of other objects (both consumerist and art-historical) which gesture to the tradition of the multiple and the ready-made, and highlight the intricate complexities of perception and representation. While its language (and frame-of-reference) is disarmingly wide-ranging, the visual style of the work is deliberately much more steadily paced. Paraded before the lingering, almost forensic eye of the camera, these miscellaneous items are methodically observed and examined, as if in a condition check for a museum collection, or quality control in a factory.