In a world of higher-definition and ever-flatter screens, artist Jim Campbell is using cutting-edge technology to do the reverse, producing blurry low-resolution images with three-dimensional screens… or no screens at all.
On view right now at Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery in New York, these sculpture-video hybrids are composed of grids of LED lights that act as deconstructed television pixels.
In “Light Topography Wave” above, a grid of 1380 white LED lights capture an elevated view of commuters scurrying back and forth. Rather than a two-dimensional plane, the lights form a wave, causing the walkers to ripple across the surface or dissolve into complete twinkling abstraction when viewed from an angle.
In “Untitled (commuters)”, squares of multi-colored LED lights are hung behind frosted pieces of Plexiglas. The translucent plastic diffuses the sharp pinpoints of light, softening and expanding each pixel into a blurry view of New York: a mundane sidewalk/street scene with a Times Square flair. It’s interesting to consider the real traffic beyond this gallery wall, which (intentionally or not) moves in the same direction and provides a barely-audible, real-time soundtrack to the silent piece.
Birds soar across the surface of “Light Topography Clouds”, which combines the “wave” shape of white LEDs with a Plexiglas diffuser. I’m amazed by this one. The farther an individual light is from the surface of the Plexiglas, the more diffused it appears. The “clouds” are therefore not caused by paint or any alteration whatsoever of the plastic screen, but only by the varying distances of each “pixel” behind it.
My favorite may also be the simplest. “Home Movies” uses multi-color LEDs which hang facing the wall. Rather than diffused through Plexiglas, the light is bounced off of the wall behind (about 3 inches away), eclipsed by the LED hardware producing it. Each light is therefore its own projector of a single blurry pixel. The anonymous home movies that serve as the source for the artist become both more ghostly and more tactile, losing distinguishable facial features but gaining a physicality from the texture of the wall.
The Creators Project sat down with Campbell in this video to get an in-depth look at his latest works:
Great news: There are three amazing and diverse opportunities to catch Jim Campbell’s work right now. In addition to this show, The Joyce Theater presents “Constellation”: an incredible dance piece by Alonzo King LINES Ballet featuring a massive moving light sculpture by Jim Campbell as a backdrop!!! It’s only showing for one week (right now), so if you miss it, check out the video here (skip half way to see birds soar across the stage). On view for several months, The Museum of the Moving Image in Queens is hosting a massive retrospective of Campbell’s work and looks to be one of the best museum exhibitions of the year.
All images courtesy Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery, New York. Photographed by David Behringer.