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Light pixels

Light pixels by Jim Campbell

Looking for HD images? Then don't ask Jim Campbell: while technology strives for higher and higher resolutions, he has chosen another path, the one of low resolution, and has turned it into an art form.

Jim Campbell's steps

Born in 1956, Jim Campbell boasts an MIT degree in Mathematics and Engineering which he then used in his job as a filmmaker. In the mid 1980s, he started building up his art on these grounds, made up of light sculptures joined to video installations.

And, since 1999, made up of LED lights, as well, each one becoming a pixel on a screen. Just as in Untitled (commuters), where square coloured LEDs hang behind a translucent plexiglas sheet. The light dots are blurred by the pane, thus giving the effect of a city seen through a veil of fog.

Scattered Light and Exploded views

The screen, though, isn't always there: this is the case with Scattered Light, a 2010 installation in Manhattan's Madison Square Park. Here 1'600 bulbs were hung, emptied of their filaments to endow them with LEDs, instead, and programmed to reproduce a moving picture. A low-resolution one, though, since the pixels were the size of bulbs, which offered viewers a different perception according to their position.

The same is true of Exploded views, installed in the hall of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 2011 and based on the work at Madison Square Park. Those who enter the museum are just under the installation and reckon it an abstract piece of art, made up of flashing lights. But as soon as they reach the first floor and turn around, they find out they have a video of people on the move in front of them.

Why low resolution?

"In video-installations", explains Jim Campbell, "low resolution wipes out details and gives you no other choice but to focus on shapes and movement". This is why a video is required, projected by LEDs on panes, or by LEDs hanging from the ceiling. And Campbell's delving into the way human perception and memory work goes on.

If you want to learn more on Jim Campbell's work, this article by David Behringer is exactly what you're looking for!


Photos © Jim Campbell

Other photos

Jim Campbell | Scattered Light | Vetreria Vistosi
Jim Campbell | Fundamental Interval Commuters | Vetreria Vistosi
Jim Campbell | Reconstruction 11 | Vetreria Vistosi


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