e-art

Jim Campbell, Portrait of a Portrait of Harry Nyquist
Portrait of a Portrait of Harry Nyquist (2000)
Jim Campbell, Portrait of a Portrait of Harry Nyquist (2000)
Courtesy of the artist

Jim Campbell, Portrait of a Portrait of Claude Shannon
Portrait of a Portrait of Claude Shannon (2001)
Jim Campbell, Portrait of a Portrait of Claude Shannon (2001)
Courtesy of the artist

Jim Campbell, I Have Never Read the Bible
I Have Never Read the Bible (1995)
Jim Campbell, I Have Never Read the Bible (1995)
Courtesy of the artist and Polly and Mark Addison, Boulder (CO)

Jim Campbell, Photo of My Mother, Portrait of My Father
Photo of My Mother (1996) Portrait of My Father (1994-95)
Jim Campbell, Photo of My Mother (1996), Portrait of My Father (1994-95)
Courtesy of the artist and the San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose (CA)

Jim Campbell, Nightlights
Nightlights (1995)
Jim Campbell, Nightlights (1995)
Courtesy of the artist and the Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco (CA) and New York (NY)

Jim Campbell, Illuminated Averages #1: Hitchcock's Psycho
Illuminated Average #1: Hitchcock’s Psycho (2000)
Jim Campbell, Illuminated Average #1: Hitchcock’s Psycho (2000)
Courtesy of the artist and the Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco (CA) and New York (NY)

Jim Campbell, Dynamism of a Cyclist
Dynamism of a Cyclist (2001)
Jim Campbell, Dynamism of a Cyclist (2001)
Courtesy of the artist and the Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco (CA) and New York (NY)

Jim Campbell, Political Protest
Political Protest 1 2004 (2005)
Jim Campbell, Political Protest 1 2004 (2005)
Courtesy of the artist and the Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco (CA) and New York (NY)

Jim Campbell, Fight
Ambiguous Icon #2: Fight (2000) (video)

Jim Campbell, Library
Library (2004)
Jim Campbell, Library (2004)
Courtesy of the artist and Graphicstudio, Tampa (FL)

Jim Campbell, Église sur la 5e Avenue
Church on 5th Avenue (2001)
Jim Campbell, Church on 5th Avenue (2001)
Courtesy of the artist and the Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco (CA) and New York (NY)

Jim Campbell, Reconstruction #1
Reconstruction #1 (2002)
Jim Campbell, Reconstruction #1 (2002)
Courtesy of the artist and the Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco (CA) and New York (NY)
Jim Campbell
Born in Chicago (IL) in 1956
Lives and works in San Francisco (CA)

We present a collection of 17 works by Jim Campbell, dating from the mid-1990s to today. Memory Works, Illuminated Averages and Ambiguous Icons are titles of series or of works that examine memory, retention and forgetting. From I Have Never Read the Bible (1995), a work on memory and cultural uprooting, Campbell has, in more recent years, come to set his sights on the boundaries of image recognition. His works, as their titles imply, are rooted in ambivalence: the image and its loss, the image that oscillates between analogue and digital, between the continuous image and the singularity of pixels. The artist begins with an analogue image, but he uses algorithms to encrypt it digitally, saving it in electromagnetic memory. And while the film and television industry seeks to emulate the definition of 35 mm film (high resolution), Campbell prefers to explore the limits of perception; what is the minimum threshold of image recognition once the chaos of raw information has been abolished? At what point does noise transform itself into a perceptible, intelligible signal? “It turns out, surprise, that there is an algorithm that describe these liminal transformations between analog and digital, between perception and illegibility” (1) Campbell celebrates the interpolation formula of Nyquist and Shannon in two of his works, Portrait of a Portrait of Harry Nyquist (2000) and Portrait of a Portrait of Claude Shannon (2001). (2)

Here there are neither monitors nor projectors, but a screen-like surface faces us just the same, as well as light sources – pixels. But if the artist presented the visitor with only a panel of tiny lights (LED – light emitting diodes), no image would form, just an abstract and somewhat shapeless array of dots. By applying a Plexiglas screen – an opaque or semi-opaque film – the images become perceptible; indeed it is by blocking the view of the raw pixels that the image becomes recognisable to the visitor. To render the demonstration more instructive, Campbell places his screens at various angles or distances from the raw pixels, with, for example, one end of the screen closer and the other further away, or with all of the pixels facing the wall and projecting their coloured reflections on it; in this way, the image shifts from the lowest to liminal definition to allow the spectator to read the image distinctly.

But is the image, finally, not in the eye of the beholder, in the true sense of the expression? It is, after all, the spectator who recognises the image. The works of Campbell thus highlight the ambiguous status of images in our world of computer bits. They are also a subtle plea for hermeneutics that still leaves room for human interpretation, for an open acknowledgement of the range of ambiguity in human subjects. With Wavelengths (2002), Campbell also pays tribute to Michael Snow.

J.G. © FDL 2007


(1) See Steve Dietz, “The Difference that Makes a Difference: The Liminal Art of Jim Campbell” in Quantizing Effects: The Liminal Art of Jim Campbell (Santa Fe: NM, Site Santa Fe, 2005): p. 13. Exhibition catalogue.
(2) Not presented here.
Works on display

Memory Works

I Have Never Read the Bible (1995)
Custom electronics, Webster’s dictionary, speaker
38,1 cm x 15,2 cm x 15,2 cm
Collection of Polly and Mark Addison, Boulder (CO)

Photo of My Mother (1996)
Custom electronics, glass photograph, liquid crystal display (LCD) material
38,1 cm x 15,2 cm x 15,2 cm
Collection of the San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose (CA)

Portrait of My Father (1994-95)
Custom electronics, glass, photograph, liquid crystal display (LCD) material
38,1 cm x 15,2 cm x 15,2 cm
Collection of the San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose (CA)

Nightlights (1995)
Custom electronics, nightlights
38.1 cm x 15.2 cm x 15.2 cm
Courtesy of the artist and the Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco (CA) and New York (NY)

Illuminated Averages

Illuminated Average #1:
Hitchcock’s Psycho
(2000)
Averaged over the entire movie, light box with duratrans, 121.9 x 91.4 x 15.2 cm
Courtesy of the artist and the Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco (CA) and New York (NY)

Dynamism of an Automobile (2001)
Light box with duratrans
121.9 x 91.4 x 15.2 cm
Courtesy of the artist and the Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco (CA) and New York (NY)

Dynamism of a Cyclist (2001)
Averaged over 2 min, light box with duratrans print, 121.9 x 91.4 x 15.2 cm
Courtesy of the artist and the Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco (CA) and New York (NY)

Dynamism of a Cow (2001)
Averaged over 2 min, light box with duratrans print, 121.9 x 91.4 x 15.2 cm
Courtesy of the artist and the Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco (CA) and New York (NY)

Political Protest 1 2004 (2005)
12 layered photographic exposures from Anti War Protest at the Republican National Convention, Light box with duratrans
182.8 cm x 121.9 cm x 15.2 cm
Courtesy of the artist and the Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco (CA) and New York (NY)

LED Works (Light-Emitting Diode)

Ambiguous Icon #2: Fight (2000)
Custom electronics, 88 LEDs, treated Plexiglas
30.4 cm x 35.1 cm x 7.6 cm
Courtesy of the artist and the Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco (CA) and New York (NY)

Home Movies 300-1 (2006)
Custom electronics, 300 LEDs
152.4 cm x 139.7 cm x 7.6 cm
Courtesy of the artist and the Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco (CA) and New York (NY)

Wavelengths (2002)
Installation, custom electronics, 5 LED panels, diffusion screens, variable dimensions
Courtesy of the artist and the Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco (CA) and New York (NY)

Library (2004)
Custom electronics, LED panel, photoengraving
78.7 cm x 60.9 cm x 7.6 cm
Published by Graphicstudio, Tampa (FL)
Courtesy of Graphicstudio, Tampa (FL)

Church on 5th Avenue (2001)
Custom electronics, 768 LEDs, treated Plexiglas
73.6 cm x 55.8 cm x 16.5 cm
Courtesy of the artist and the Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco (CA) and New York (NY)

Motion and Rest #5 (2002)
Custom electronics, 768 LEDs
73.6 cm x 55.8 cm
Courtesy of the Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery, New York (NY)

Divide (2005)
Custom electronics, 768 LEDs
73.6 cm x 55.8 cm X 10.1 cm
Courtesy of the artist and the Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco (CA) and New York (NY)

Reconstruction #1 (2002)
Custom electronics, 192 LEDs, cast resin screen
27.9 cm x 38.1 cm x 7.6 cm
Courtesy of the artist and the Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco (CA) and New York (NY)

A Fire, a Freeway and a Walk (1999-2000)
Custom electronics, 52 LEDs, aluminium, velvet
27.9 cm x 38.1 cm
Courtesy of the artist and the Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco (CA) and New York (NY)

Biography

Jim Campbell earned degrees in Electrical Engineering and Mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). As an engineer, he holds more than a dozen patents in the field of image processing. His artistic work has been widely exhibited around the world, and some of his most recent exhibitions include Ars Electronica, (Linz, 2000), Vision Ruhr (Dortmund, 2000), BitStreams, Whitney Museum, (New York, 2001), Taipei Biennial, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, (2002, Taipei, Taiwan), House of the Tomorrow, Experimenta, (Melbourne, Australia, 2003), ARCO 2006 (Madrid, Spain), and Closed Circuit, Video and New Media at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, 2007). His work has also been showcased in many solo exhibitions, including an important 2005 retrospective at SITE Santa Fe (Santa Fe, NM), entitled Quantizing Effects: The Liminal Art of Jim Campbell. This show went on to tour a number of cities in the U.S. In 1999, the Rockefeller Foundation awarded Campbell a fellowship in multimedia, and the same year, he received the Eureka Award from the Fleishhacker Foundation. The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation also recognised him with an award in 2003.

Links:
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Daniel Langlois Foundation