Jim Campbell’s Reactive Works

5th and 56th (2006)

Back in 1997 Art Center‘s Williamson Gallery housed the exhibition “Memory, Reflection and Transformation, Reactive Works by Jim Campbell.” I was teaching there at the time and remember first seeing the show as I took a break from one of my classes.

Walking through the gallery was a playful and social experience, as visitors together discovered the reaction the pieces gave. But it was the subtle use of technology and interaction to create remarkably beautiful and wonderful works got me immediately hooked on Campbell. I was also really impressed with gallery director Stephen Nowlin’s boldness to bring a digital artist into, what had been previously, a fairly traditional gallery.

The Los Angeles Times had a nice review of the show. And they make an interesting point: “that Campbell recognizes a fundamental danger in the way he makes art. Its technical wizardry can distract us from attending to the important things Campbell has to say.”

We live in a world of increasing hype about technology, businesses, and design that’s shouting to be seen. Campbell’s work is a reminder to focus on the experiences that matter, the messages we really want to share, and the manner in which we want to say them. To share them, and to slow down.

Be sure to take a look at Campbell’s website. It’s also got videos showing the pieces running. Plus, bravely, a section called Duds.

Digital Watch (1991)
SHADOW For Heisenberg (1993 - 1994)
Portrait of My Father (1994-1995)
Memory / Recollection (1990)


Tourists At World Trade Center (2005)