Jim Campbell

Observing Jim Campbell’s artworks, each viewer is encouraged to remember, rethink, or just imagine the scenes that defi ne the relationship of each individual with his/her past, infancy, and origins.

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Home Movies 300-1, 2006
Custom electronics, 300 LEDs
162,5 x 132 x 7,6 cm
Courtesy the artist
Photo credit: Sarah Christianson

Jim Campbell investigates the processes of perception and the dynamics of relationships, reflecting on the relationship between technological devices and the perceptive, cognitive, and emotive modalities of the human being.

Home Movies are structures composed of hundreds of LED lights. Each light turns on and off independently, increases and decreases in intensity, producing a dynamic image with irregular intermittence. The lighting effect is transformed through its interaction with the observer in the exhibition space. At a certain distance from the artwork, viewers can recognise people, streets, and environmental contexts.  The closer one gets to the image, more its contents disappear, dissipating in front of our eyes.

Campbell digitally processes analogue sources like old photographs or amateur family films, mixing found and personal materials.  Faces and places are never recognisable. Silhouettes and black and white hatched surfaces appear in front of the viewer without a precise narrative sequence.  Nonetheless, these scenes seem to appear like fuzzy images of distant childhood memories or the poorly preserved photographs and videos of our trips, birthday parties, or family moments recorded with obsolete technological equipment.

Recent technological innovations such as 3D cinema and HD images have modified the relationship between people and images, marked by an ever-increasing search for clarity and definition. Campbell overturns this trend by reviving the central role of man’s perceptive capacities and imagination.  Each viewer is encouraged to remember or think back to the moments and episodes, recollected or also only imagined, that define the relationship of each individual with his or her past, not only relating to his or her family.

Jim Campbell (born 1956, USA; lives and works in San Francisco) has a university degree, specialising in electrical engineering and mathematics; he uses this background to focus on the relationship between art and technology. In 1988, he began creating multimedia installations by employing “custommade” electric systems, specifi cally conceived and designed. His multimedia art garnered its fi rst recognition with an invitation in 1997 to participate in the InterCommunication Centre Biennale in Tokyo. Among his most recent solo exhibitions are: in 2001, Time, Memory and Meditation, Anderson Gallery, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond – Contemporary Confi gurations, Museum of Art and History, Santa Cruz; in 2002, Data and Time, Nagoya City Art Museum, Nagoya; in 2005, Material Light, Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery, New York; in 2007, Quantizing Effects, Museum of Glass, Tacoma; in 2008, Jim Campbell: Home Movies, Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley; in 2010, Jim Campbell, Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco; in 2011, Jim Campbell – Material Light, National Museum of Photography, Copenhagen – Jim Campbell: Static Time, 20 Years of Electronic Art, Espacio Fundación Telefonica, Buenos Aires – Jim Campbell: Exploded View, Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria; in 2013, Jim Campbell: At The Threshold, Samek Art Gallery, Bucknell University, Lewisburg. Among his most recent joint exhibitions are: in 2002, the Whitney Biennial of New York – the Taipei Biennial in Taiwan; in 2003, After Image, Wood Street Galleries, Pittsburgh; in 2005, Balance and Power: Performance and Surveillance in Video Art, Krannert Art Museum, Champaign – A×S: At the Intersection of Art & Science, Cal Tech and The Armory Center, Pasadena; in 2006, The First Illusion: The Transitional Object, Palo Alto Art Center, Palo Alto – Crossing the Screen, IMAI – inter media art institute, Düsseldorf; in 2007, Luminaries and Visionaries, Kinetica Museum, London – Closed Circuit, Video and New Media at the Metropolitan, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; in 2008, New Frontier, 2008 Sundance Film Festival, Park City – Living Room, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa – Balance and Power: Performance and Surveillance in Video Art, Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum, University of Louisiana, Lafayette – Seeing as Believing, Axis Gallery, Sacramento; in 2009, Artifacts of a Postdigital Age, STRP Festival, KIOSK gallery, Eindhoven; in 2010, Watch This, Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington D.C.; in 2011, Paradise Lost, Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, Istanbul; in 2012, Marking Time, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; in 2013, Transposition: Motion is Action, National Art Museum of China, Beijing – Art and Optics: The Speed of Communication, Espacio Fundación Telefonica, Lima. In 2012, the artist won the Annual Bay Area Treasure Award at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Arts & Letters Award at the American Academy of Arts & Letters in New York. Jim Campbell’s works are part of numerous public collections, including: the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco, the Musée des Beaux-arts in Montréal, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego.


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