One of the most innovative artists in the country, Jim Campbell leads the way in the use of computer technology as an art form in his customized electronic sculptures and installations.
Now living in San Francisco, the Chicago-born Campbell holds degrees in mathematics and engineering from MIT. As an electrical engineer, he possesses more than a dozen patents in image processing and high-definition television; however, as an artist, he parlays his technical expertise into the aesthetic exploration of low-resolution video displays. In the mid-1980s, he transitioned from filmmaking to interactive video installations.
Campbell’s art consistently has probed into the questions of perception, time and memory. Much of his recent work harnesses the visual impact of LED (light emitting diode) displays, by transmitting digital video through LEDs, in order to create moving-image sculptures. But these works are not so much about an LED display as they are about the perception of a recognizable moving image through extremely low resolution and with very small amounts of information.
Spark follows the development of a series of works, in which Campbell explores the very essence of movement and information in a group of LED pieces called “Motion and Rest Studies,” which focuses on people with physical disabilities, a personal inspiration for Campbell, who grew up with parents who had physical disabilities. Sherry Petrini, one of six people featured in “Studies,” comments: “My overall feeling about it [is] that it’s a gentle rendering of a very profound human experience … a feeling of warmth and humanity.”