Obaminoes was designed by Robert Bosch, Robert and Eleanor Biggs Professor of Natural Science at Oberlin College and founder of Domino Artwork. Over the past several years Dr. Bosch has used tools from the critically important area know as operations research to create works of art. The particular mathematical tool he primarily uses is integer programming (part of the broader linear programming). His more recent works of art are part of a genre called TSP Art which use approximate solutions to Traveling Salesperson Problems (TSP) to create art. Many of these images are shown below. Since 2001, Dr. Bosch has also been using integer programs to create works of art using complete sets of dominoes. Related to the art genre known as pointilism and the computer images known as photomosaics, Dr. Bosch’s Domino Artwork creations are the arrangement of the given number of dominoes that provide the optimal approximation to a digitized image.
While Dr. Bosch has many wonderful domino creations, including Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. which have been made by many groups of schoolchildren, many custom installations, and custom-order portraits, Obaminoes is the largest in terms of the number of dominoes used.
Obaminoes is designed to use 44 complete sets of “double-nine” dominoes – to commemorate the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America. Each set of double-nine dominoes contains 55 dominoes, so Obaminoes uses 44 × 55 = 2,420 dominoes.
Each domino is made up of two squares. The dimensions of Obaminoes is 55 squares high by 88 squares wide. The dominoes we are using are about 7/8” by 1 3/4”. So our Obaminoes is 48” tall by 77” wide.
Obaminoes was constructed in 55 small sections. Each section was 8 squares wide by 11 squares tall for an overall size of 7” by a scant 9 5/8”. As each domino is made up of two squares each section uses the equivalent of 44 dominoes. The completed mosaic is 5 sections high by 11 sections wide. The dominoes on each section were glued to a 1/8” gauge commercial vinyl flooring tile, cut to size, with construction adhesive. The dominoes were glued while the individual tiles were held by a simple frame/jig which surrounded the tile and insured that the dominoes were tightly assembled.
The weight of such a large mosaic required a specialized base for strength, longevity, and safety. This base was made up of three torsion boxes that were supported on the bottom, sides, and top by angle irons bolted to the concrete block wall. Torsion boxes are related in principal to airplane wings – a strong, thin skin attached to a skeleton of rigid cross sections. In this case the skin is 3/16” hardboard front and back and the skeleton ½” medium density fiberboard. Each tile section was glued to the base using construction adhesive. Dominoes that span the joint between two of the different boxes making up the base were glued only on side so the mosaic could be disassembled into the three individual boxes for moving, storage, etc.
Once hung, Obaminoes was surrounded by a frame that was tacked to the edges of the base.