Kinetic work for artist, Marianne Nicolson


(2014)  Marianne Nicolson commissioned me to build a kinetic piece that she titled “Waterline”. The project would see a box with glass carved glass panels, back lit from the interior. The light would project the imagery onto the walls in a darkened gallery space. Additionally, this projected imagery was to move very slowly outward from the box in the center of the room, across the floor, climbing up the walls until it actually reached the ceiling. The effect was to mimic a rising tide, which would move almost imperceptibly. We decided that a three minute turnaround time was good for the full cycle of movement and so while Marianne got started on putting her patterns onto the glass sections that would become the box, I began designing a system to move the light up and down. I decided that it would be best to create a separate contraption outside of her artpiece that would raise and lower the light inside the box. The box would measure approx 24″ x 24″ and stand about 36″ high, so whatever I made needed to balance with that size, as I wasn’t going to be able to hide it anywhere. Marianne’s project referenced the damming of rivers, such as the Columbia, back in the 50’s. My contraption could easily look mechanical and old (fortunately), and still work with the theme. I used a 1RPM motor, belt and pully wheels to gear it down to a 3 minute revolution. The diameter of the large wheel was determined by the length of travel required for the light to move from highest to lowest position. For the light, I dissected and rebuilt a halogen desk lamp of Marianne’s and added a transformer to power it. I utilized portions of the lamp arm itself to create a steady guided travel for the bulb so that the projection wouldn’t wobble. I carved up Marianne’s glass when she finished cutting the pattern and assembled it into a square. She provided a cedar box lid and some extra material for me to fabricate a base. Here are some pics of the process…

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