Jim Campbell: New Work


Jim Campbell has been making innovative technology-based work for almost 20 years. An interest in filmmaking, combined with his engineering expertise, has resulted in groundbreaking installations and sculptural works that have set the standard for new media art.


Campbell continues to explore the limits of perception using both high and low resolution techniques. Large-scale light boxes present accumulated high-resolution images of protests at the 2004 Republican convention, resulting in multidimensional yet surprisingly discernible scenes. The theme of the crowd has become a hot topic in recent contemporary art, from Andreas Gursky to Paul Pfeiffer to Rirkrit Tiravanija. Media awareness and spectacle have become inevitable and intentional aspects of organized political protests in the internet age. Katy Siegel writes in “All Together Now: Crowd Scenes in Contemporary Art,” published in Artforum January 2005,


The awareness of media representation, a balance between action and representation, also conditions all aspects of contemporary demonstrations and the politics of the crowd. As New Left protestors being beaten by police chanted in 1968, mindful of television cameras around them, “The whole world is watching.” More recently, marchers against the latest war in Iraq and the Republican National Convention in New York often carried horizontal signs over their heads?flatbed picture planes meant to be read from above by reporters in helicopters and on rooftops, photographed, and transmitted to people watching the protest at home. From a Debordian perspective this is politics as spectacle, and the protest is a homemade reality show rather than an effective transformation of reality.


Other works involve LEDs transmitting moving images with extremely low-resolution, yet again decipherable, results. Voyeurism and time are addressed in works that depict watching and waiting under prosaic circumstances. The manipulation of time in these works – though a futile attempt to control the inevitable – nonetheless turns the banal into a poetic assertion of life in all its beauty and mystery.