Hongtao Zhou, an MFA candidate in sculpture at the University of Wisconsin, has taken 15 pounds of wax and molded it into two chairs that look like icicles and act like the world’s biggest, scariest birthday candles. He calls them Burniture, a sort of Aeron chair for the hellish set.
Zhou’s chairs are designed to melt into oblivion. Light ’em up, then watch them drip and slowly collapse. “Burn the ice, burn our seats, burn us,” Zhou says esoterically on his Web site, sounding a bit like he’s writing lyrics for Slayer. (Come to think of it, the chairs would look right at home on the cover of one of their albums.)
Melting wax is a popular metaphor in art and design. The Chinese artist Zheng Guogu poured it all over a metal ballast to evoke a frozen waterfall. New York artist Petah Coyne throws it into sculptures made up of dead animals and tchotchkes. And Amnesty International recently imitated it, using CGI, in commercial spots calling for “death to the death penalty.” Clearly dripping wax is versatile stuff, with its inherent drama and gothic imagery and suggestions of both violence and ephemera. But mostly, it just looks cool.