Jim Campbell – Indirect Imaging

“This winter we present Indirect Imaging, the first ever UK solo exhibition by renowned American artist Jim Campbell. Using LED lights, Campbell constructs exquisite light sculptures derived from simple films – birds in flight or commuters walking. By reducing the visual information to the bare minimum he creates captivating works which make the everyday appear magical.”

I saw Jim Campbell’s Indirect Imaging exhibition at the DCA a couple of weeks ago. I had wanted to include it in my concept doc but didn’t have enough time to do any research into the ideas behind his work, so I am looking into it now. His ideas really interest me, as he echoes the ideas found within Soundself, A Light in Chorus and Lapis about visual deprivation and the magic of the everyday. He also looks into the space between abstract and representation – something I’m sitting in at the moment.

“His background in electrical engineering, mathematics, photography and filmmaking enables him to make immersive works that explore the space between the representative and the abstract.In a world of high definition Campbell’s evocative and deliberately lofi work reminds us of something more timeless.”

Last Day in the Beginning of March

“Last Day in the Beginning of March reflects upon the last day of the life of the artist’s brother. This work is a large room-sized installation which consists of twenty-six lights suspended from the ceiling and shining onto the floor below, each creating a circular pool of light. Each light bulb is connected to an electronic circuit which contains a fictionalised electronic ‘memory’ of a specific event from that day. The circuit modulates the brightness of each light according to the rhythm of the encoded memory. The soundtrack of rain contributes to the melancholic air in the room. The small electronic chassis which contains the memory is placed near its modulated pool of light and has a rear-lit text label revealing to the viewer a description of that particular memory or event. Pulses of light resemble heartbeats, decisions and routines.”

“‘Last Day in the Beginning of March’ (2003) reflects on the final hours of Campbell’s brother’s life by tapping into a series of imagined memories through 26 synchronised bulbs beamed down from the ceiling. As each one pulses its circle of light at different speeds, they reflect a moment, a feeling or an anxiety immortalised on a series of name-plates lined around the dimmed walls. Out of the gloom comes a carefully choreographed set of sense memories that become both homage and elegy to the piece’s subject.”

This piece uses light, temperature and movement to communicate emotions though abstract projections of light. Fast, warm lights represent anxiety attacks, while slow, bright lights depict the last cigarette his brother smoked. I really like the use of completely abstract imagery to depict snapshots of this moment in time. The placards on the wall provide a little context for the viewer, while allowing them to make up their own mind about the piece and imagine what happened on that day.

Exploded View(Commuters)

“More than a thousand LED bulbs form a 3D constellation showing commuters walking in conformist patterns. Campbell eloquently expresses the routines of everyday life as we go about our daily business. Part of a series which also includes choreographed footage of ballet dancers, we are able to recognise the activities even though they are not in high definition.”

I really loved this piece – it was fascinating how abstract and meaningless it was up close, but how it became representational and gained meaning when you stepped back. Up close, it is suspended lights blinking on and off, but far away you can see people walking across the space. Stepping back, you think about what it means or is, but up close you just wonder at the beauty of the lights – this is a feeling I’d love to replicate in my work.

Cooper, N. 2014. Jim Campbell: Indirect Imaging. [online]. TheList.co.uk. Available from:
https://www.list.co.uk/article/66838-jim-campbell-indirect-imaging/%5BAccessed 11 December 2014]

Dundee Contemporary Arts. 2014. Exhibition Information – Jim Campbell: Indirect Imaging. [online]. dca.org.uk. Available from: http://www.dca.org.uk/assets/general/JC_gallery_leaflet.pdf

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