Jim Campbell

Jim Campbell

Jim Campbell was born in Chicago in 1956 and lives in San Francisco. He received 2 Bachelor of Science Degrees in Mathematics and Engineering from MIT in 1978. His work has been shown internationally and throughout North America in institutions such as the Whitney Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Carpenter Center, Harvard University; The Power Plant, Toronto; The International Center for Photography, New York, and the NTT InterCommunication Center in Tokyo. His electronic art work is includedin the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the University Art Museum at Berkeley, and the San Jose Museum of Art. In 1992 he created one of the first permanent public interactive video artworks in the U.S. in Phoenix, Arizona. He has lectured on interactive media art at many Institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art in NY. He has recently received a Rockefeller Grant in Multimedia, a Langlois Foundation Grant, and a Eureka Felowship Award. As an engineer he holds more than a dozen patents in the field of video image processing.

Experiments in Touching Color

This work consists of a small black pedestal in a small dark room. The pedestal has a glass screen in the top surface and is hollow with a video projector inside. An image is projected onto the glass rear screen from below. When the viewers first walk into the room they see an image on top of the pedestal in a silent room. When a viewer puts their hand on the glass screen two things happen at the same time. A sound from the image fades up in the space and the image dissolves to a single color.
As long as the hand stays on the glass screen the sound remains and the image stays a single but changing color. As the hand moves around the image, the color field emanating from the pedestal goes through a sequence of colors.
This color is based upon where specifically the viewer is touching. For example, if the image is of a talking head, as the viewer moves her fingers from the lips up to the eyebrowthe emanating color from the screen changes from pale pink to varying flesh tones to dark brown. The color seen at any one time is based upon the color of the pixel that the viewer's middle fingertip is touching in the now unseen image that was there. The viewer's memory of the image that was there along with the exploration of the colors at the various points in the now hidden image define a new image that is part memory and part detail.
And the image is moving, so after the image fades out and the color field fades in, the image continues to change. The sound, which contains the movement of the event, helps the viewer to imagine what the image is now doing.
In other words there are two cues pointing back to the image; the sound and the color. Often the rhythm of the changing color field and the rhythm of the sound reinforce each other. For example, by putting your finger anywhere near the talking lips of a face, the words are heard in sync with the color changing from red to black to white based on the hidden lips moving.

Production Assistant: Claire Calvino

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