Mind & Matter


Liminal Light

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"Scattered Light" by Jim Campbell. Photo:  Whitewall.


As video technology continues to improve, the primary goal is increased resolution. More pixels are thought to be better, and high definition video formats portray the world in crisper detail. However, one artist seeks to push another threshold: low resolution.

For years, Jim Campbell has been conducting experiments with light and motion in an effort to establish the liminal thresholds of human perception. "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," he says.

In his recent installation entitled "Scattered Light," video footage of moving silhouettes shot in Grand Central Station is subtly revealed within a 50-foot-by-16-foot, three-dimensional array of LED light bulbs. 1,600 individual light sources act as spatial pixels that oscillate as shadowy figures travel ominously across the scene. According to Campbell, the moving light field affects "a more primal part of the brain" that considers peripheral vision as much as focused sight.

"Scattered Light" will be on display until February 2011 in Madison Square Park, New York.



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About the Blogger

Blaine Brownell

thumbnail image Minnesota-based architect and author Blaine Brownell, AIA, is a self-defined materials researcher and sustainable building adviser. His "Product of the Week" emails and three volumes of Transmaterial (2006, 2008, 2010) provide designers with a steady flow of inspiration—a 21st-century Grammar of Ornament. Blaine has practiced architecture in Japan and the U.S. and has been published in more than 40 design, business, and science publications. The recipient of a Fulbright fellowship for 2006–07, he researched contemporary Japanese material innovations at the Tokyo University of Science. He currently teaches architecture and co-directs the M.S. in Sustainable Design program at the University of Minnesota. His book Matter in the Floating World was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2011.