Boltworks (2002)

BFA Thesis Exhibition, video/sound site installation in historical bolt factory

Berry Brothers Bolt Works Factory, Columbus, OH

May 16 2002

Boltworks project overview QT 5.2MBboltworks_files/

LCD Screen Arrangement

Working from the centerline of the machinery, twenty-two 6 x 4 inch LCD screens were hung on both sides of the center wood columns at eye height above the bolt-making machines. The LCD screens representing the new technology align with the 19th century abandoned equipment. I sought to synchronize the imagery with the space by incorporating the past. On one side train footage echoed the freight train line, which once serviced the needs of the building bringing in raw material and taking away bolts. The other displaying a person walking backwards, a feeling of the former.



An installation responding to the historical context of a 19th century bolt manufacturing facility. Incorporated with sound and video technology I created an environment that involves the viewer in exploring the temporal and spatial dimensions of the sensual surroundings. The piece was structured utilizing two large industrial rooms one of which served as a reply to the over scale machinery and the other to an empty storage area. In the first room a directional array of bolt-making machines was juxtaposed with 22 hand-sized LCD screens displaying on one side of the corridor a walking backward sequence, and on the other side a video loop of freight trains passing by on the near-by tracks. The passage leads into the second room where four screen merge projections of a spinning bolt and the tide moving in on a Maine shore.

Multi-layered Projection

In the remaining and final room, I decided to have projections from both sides of the room, two projectors on each side projecting through two layers of organza. The semi-transparent screens merge layers of imagery resulting from a projection of a spinning bolt from one side overlaid with video of an ocean tide coming to shore from the opposite side.  

The image composition is further complicated by the choice of two screens between the projectors.  The video footage itself is controlled by a real-time manipulation software that varies the frame rate of the video playback. The software processes audio input that is picked up by microphones in the space and reacts on the occupancy of the room with viewers. The more active the viewer the faster the video playback. This feedback was complicated by four separate computer locations that made sound input location sensitive. This created a breathing space.


Crucial for the implementation of Boltworks was the site. Accessed through negotiations with a real estate agent this nationally registered building had been untouched for many years. Bolts were produced here for a continuous period of 108 years. The research involved investigations at the Ohio Historical Society as well as many conversations with former occupants and tenants. The scale of the installation playing 20,000 square footage required thrifty organizational skills and dependency on outside resources.

Funded in part by an Undergraduate Research Grant, School of Arts and Sciences, The Ohio State University