Ceiling Walk

When I was a kid, my brother and I would walk around the house with a compact mirror under our eyes. This gave us the illusion that we were walking on the ceiling, so we made a game of it by jumping over doorways and walking around light fixtures, all while maneuvering around objects on the real floor.

Ceiling Walk is an interactive video installation based on this game. To create this project, I wore special mirror glasses that made me perceive the ceiling as the floor. The glasses had two mirrors – one under each eye that pointed directly towards the ceiling; if I gazed downward all I would see was the ceiling. To capture this experience, I wore a video camera pointed towards the ceiling which also recorded the sound of my footsteps as I maneuvered over beams, doorways, and around lights.

I chose my studio building at the American Fabric’s Building to be the location of this project. This industrial building, originally a lace factory, has a long history spanning the industrial boom of Bridgeport, CT, the subsequent economic depression of that area, and the current revitalization inhabited by an artist community. Visually stunning, the ceiling is industrial and rich with a visible history of it’s many pasts. There is a complex network of old and new pipes, new duct work and incredible beams that make evident the age and structural integrity of the building. The ceiling is an unexpected and overlooked place to encounter such beauty and history.

Ceiling Walk is a site-specific installation that goes beyond the video recording. To integrate the piece into the space, I installed industrial piping and a hood that projects from the wall, mimicking the existing ductwork. The viewer must duck under the hood to watch the video as it is displayed down at eye level; just as the mirrors were on my special glasses. In order to activate the building as a whole and generate anticipation and curiosity as the viewer walks the building, I put yellow tape on the ground as a visual mapping of my path. If the viewer wishes, he or she can walk the path I took by following a trail of yellow tape. The tape echoes the remnants of yellow tape lines used to mark aisles when the building was still a functioning factory.