About the Artist
b. 1956 Chicago, IL
Jim Campbell explores the abilities of the eye and brain to decipher images by creating artworks using only fractions of moving images. The brain synthesizes these bits of light-information to create an understandable story. Campbell has done a series of curtain-like works that project a grid of individual pixels of movies onto white walls. Jim Campbell worked as an electrical engineer who made high definition TV chips in Silicon Valley.
In the Gallery
Questions for Visual Analysis
Use the video link above or reflect during or following a Museum visit.
- Watch this artwork. What do you observe? Describe your observations in writing or by sharing with a classmate.
- Now, focus only on the small LED “display devices” or projectors on the sides of the walls. What do you notice about these? How do they correspond to the “curtain” on the main wall?
- Stand at the back of the gallery and take a look at this artwork. How does this vantage point differ from the previous two?
- See if you can construct a story to go along with the images you viewed.
Jim Campbell has taken a film of an ordinary day on 6th Avenue in New York City and removed many of its pixels, sharing with viewers only a small fraction of what we might see in the original film.
- What clues do you see that might help you determine where this film was shot?
Campbell has cropped this film from a larger screen image. Along the periphery of the installation, he has included 25 single pixels drawn from the cropped material—the right and left sides of the original film. This footage is included in the individual LED projectors that you see along the walls around the central artwork.
- Do you think you would recognize these tiny images without the central reference point? Observe the images from the single LED “display devices” along the sides. Can you determine what you are seeing? How does this change when you are looking at the central image and viewing the single LEDs in your peripheral vision?
This is the first time Jim Campbell has explored peripheral vision in his artwork.
- What do you learn about your peripheral vision by experiencing this artwork?
HYPOTHESIZE, TEST, AND CONCLUDE
- How might this installation be experienced differently by different people? Conduct an experiment in the gallery by having classmates stand in various spots and noticing at what point they are able to decipher the main image. Then, take note of at what point they can notice that they are connecting the peripheral LEDs to the story of the central film. Conduct a similar experiment in the classroom, using footage from this artwork.
Low Tech: The remembering eye!
How much information do we need to construct an image? This “snack” from our friends at the Exploratorium examines how our eye and brain work together to create a full image from many separate images.
Low Tech: Explaining Peripheral Vision
Low Tech: Chuck Close and Building Images with Pixels
Medium Tech: Playing with Pixels and Images
Try out the National Gallery of Art’s online game that allows users to adjust and play with the number and shape of the pixels in famous portraits. How much can you change and still recognize the image?
You can also upload a picture and pixelize it at various resolutions with Lunapic's image editor.