Thursday, February 17, 2011

Jim Campbell - Scattered Light Exhibit at Madison Square Park - video

If you are walking by Madison Square Park at night, walk inside and you will see Jim Campbell's cool exhibit of scattered light that outlines people walking.

Tip: If you're there in person, make sure you are standing in front of the lawn fence, otherwise you won't see the outline of the people walking.

Jim Campbell's "Scattered Light" is presented by The Madison Square Park Conservancy and will be on display
from October 21, 2010 to February 28, 2011.

UPDATED: After coming home and researching this project more, it becomes even more interesting.

Jim Campbell is an electrical engineer that created "Scattered Light" with 1,600 lightbulbs modified with LEDs and are programmed to display a low-resolution, moving image as individual pixels. The display is 50 ft long x 80 ft wide x 16 ft high x 16 ft deep, a 3-dimensional display.

From the website Switched, I found an interview with Campbell's interview talking about the exhibit and have included it below along with some excerpts from the article.

  • Jim Campbell worked in Silicon Valley as an engineer and designed television chips that would convert "what's now called 'legacy' TV definition to high definition.
  • He was intrigued by Leon Harmon's pixelated image of Abraham Lincoln in 1973 (which Salvador DalĂ­ used as the basis for his 'Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea'), and thought about applying the same principles of low resolution to moving images. "The most interesting aspect of these works is the movement," he says. "It's the movement that's giving you the information."
  • Note: I've seen the Dali painting of Abraham Lincoln in Figueres, Spain -- and its pretty amazing ... maybe that's why I love this installation so much!
  • "I believe from what I've seen and the little bit that I've read that there are parts of our brain that only deal with movement, only deal with motion, and they kind of decode that," Campbell says. He asked himself, "What can I represent in really low resolution that has any kind of poetics to it?" and decided that moving figures are recognized by "a more primal part of the brain" that relates to peripheral vision. Up close, the image displayed on 'Scattered Light' looks like nothing more than a series of oscillating bulbs, but the image comes into focus as the viewer moves further back."
There are TWO OTHER EXHIBITS THERE (which I missed, slapping my hand!)
  1. Broken Window - is a facade of glass cubes, behind a series of LED that display footage of pedestrians walking through the city as cabs and cars drive past. There are 7 cubes scattered around the main panel act as pixels that have fallen out of the main display, giving abstract glimpses of the visual information coming through the facade.
  2. Voices in the Subway Station - 20 glass panels embedded in the lawn that light up in synchrony with audio recorded inside the NYC subway system; they flicker in accordance with people's conversations, sometimes turning into a running stream of light as a train passes. No sound is played with the piece.
For the full article from Switched, visit Switched's Website.

For more information on Jim Campbell and about the exhibit, look at Madison Square Park's Conservancy website.

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