Jim Campbell: Home Movies


M.I.T.-educated Jim Campbell is known for his extremely low-resolution moving images accomplished by utilizing L.E.D. technologies. For the past seven years, Campbell has presented pixilated representations created with so few L.E.D.s (more than a thousand times fewer than the number of pixels on your computer screen) that a viewer should not be able to comprehend what he is seeing. And yet, because of the brain’s ability to interpret abstract data and “fill in” the gaps in the information needed to create a complete idea, the moving image can be discerned.


Campbell’s is a unique and humanistic approach to information theory. He explores the distinction between the analogue world and its digital representation as a metaphor for the human ability for poetic understanding or “knowledge” as opposed to the mathematics of “data.”


The source material for the works in this show comes from anonymous, vintage, home movies and the artist’s recent video footage around New York City. Campbell abstracts the data into an extremely low resolution form, manipulating our voyeuristic tendencies by revealing information and at the same time obscuring it. The “pixilated” imagery, composed of as little as seven L.E.D.s, is turned away from the viewer, toward the wall. There is no longer a “real” image, only the reflection of one. Yet from a distance, and by virtue of its motion, the imagery coalesces and becomes recognizable.


Jim Campbell was born in Chicago in 1956 and lives in San Francisco. He received degrees in electronic engineering and mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His work has been exhibited extensively internationally and is in the collections of MoMA, New York; The Whitney Museum of American Art; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and many others.