Artist Presentation: Jim Campbell

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This is a follow-up to my artist presentation about Jim Campbell.
Campbell worked with film and video early in his career, and now works primarily with LEDs, especially arranged in 3-dimensional fields. Campbell's education as an electrical engineer has given him a systems-thinking approach to things: on his website you can find a (humorous) systems diagram entitled "How to make computer art".

While he's better known for Scattered Light -- a 3D field of lights that displays people's movements in space -- I was particularly interested in Campbell's earlier sculptural work that use a variety of materials to explore time and memory. Pieces like Her Breath, Her Blinking explore how time is marked through various cycles. Simultaneous Perspective offers a reflective view of one's journey to the gallery. These pieces are perhaps explorations of our perception of time and space in the same way that Scattered Light is an exploration of our perception of visual information.

I compared Jim's work to that of Bernie Lubell, another San Francisco-based artist. As Diane pointed out, their work and motivation is quite different: Campbell is interested in information, seeing, and imagery -- how much information we need to understand what we're seeing -- and his materials are primarily digital. Lubell, on the other hand, creates work that is extremely tactile in how one experiences it. He creates machines out of wood and latex, and invites people to use these machines directly. Despite these stark differences, I see a common thread of interest in the themes of understanding the things we cannot see... time, memory, death... and often in playful, elegant, reflective ways.

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