Overview

Jim Campbell was born in Chicago in 1956 and moved to San Francisco after earning degrees in Mathematics and Engineering from MIT. He transitioned from filmmaking to interactive video installations in the mid 1980s, and began using LEDs as a primary medium in 2000. His custom electronic sculptures and installations have made him a leading figure in the use of computer technology as an art form.

 

Campbell’s work is unique in that his media and message are inseparable. He uses technologies developed for information transfer and storage to explore human perception and memory.

 

Campbell’s work typically involves pixilated representations created with grids of LEDs, which have such low perceived resolution as to defy comprehension. Exploring the line between representation and abstraction, Campbell plumbs the human ability to interpret information and “fill in the gaps” necessary to create a complete idea. His exploration of the distinction between the analogue world and its digital representation metaphorically parallels the difference between poetic understanding or “knowledge” versus the mathematics of “data.”

 

Jim Campbell’s work has been exhibited internationally and throughout North America in institutions such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The International Center for Photography, New York; The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia. His electronic art work is included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the de Young Museum, San Francisco and the Berkeley Art Museum. In 2012, he was the recipient of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s 13th Annual Bay Area Treasure Award. Previous honors include a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship Award in Multimedia, three Langlois Foundation Grants and a Guggenheim Fellowship Award. He has two Bachelor of Science Degrees in Mathematics and Engineering from MIT and as an engineer holds nearly twenty patents in the field of video image processing. His 2018 piece ‘Day for Night’ is a permanent LED installation that comprises the top nine floors of the 61-story Salesforce Tower in San Francisco.

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