Scattered Light features more than 1,600 LEDs encased in standard light bulbs suspended within a support structure spanning 80 feet in length and standing 20 feet high and 16 feet deep to create a vibrant grid of lights. The LED bulbs are programmed so that, depending on a viewer’s vantage point, they “play back” in very low resolution a video of commuters in Grand Central Station. From other points of view, the outdoor sculpture is just scattered light.
In an interview, Campbell says,
“The work can be thought about as a two-dimensional x-y grid of lights (displaying an image) that has been pulled apart into a three-dimensional partially filled grid, such that the final work has no more information than the original two-dimensional grid had. It’s an idea I’ve had for a long time and goes back to the notion of attempting to stretch an image out of its two dimensional form.”
Scattered Light was first commissioned by the Madison Square Park Conservancy’s Mad. Sq. Art program (NYC). It uses less electricity than a kitchen toaster.
Jim Campbell is universally acknowledged as a masterful new media artist, adept at manipulating the base materials of electronics and computers into visual haiku of the information age. What this volume reveals, comprehensively spanning twenty years of his career, is that the real guts of his art is not in soldered connections but in a sublime reduction of vision into rhythm. What is barely deciphered by the eyes is strangely comprehensible to the mind, as if reconstructing familiar memories from the future. Campbell is one of the pioneering artists of the twenty-first century. His innovative techniques transform the pervasive mediaverse surrounding us—and our relation to it.