January 7, 2011

Jim Campbell: Scattered Light Installation in Madison Square Park, NYC

JIM CAMPBELL: Scattered Light 
Site-Specific Public Art Installation, Madison Square Park, NYC - Madison Square Park Conservancy’s Mad. Sq. Art 
Through February 28, 2011 

JIM CAMPBELL, Scattered Light (2010) at Madison Square Park 
Courtesy Madison Square Park Conservancy / Copyright James Ewing 

Scattered Light is a new site-specific public art installation by pioneering new media artist Jim Campbell presented by Madison Square Park Conservancy’s Mad. Sq. Art program. Marking the artist’s most ambitious public art project to date, Scattered Light features three installations of orchestrated light incorporating elements of computer programming and high-technology for a public art installation which light up Madison Square Park. Jim Campbell’s Scattered Light is on view since October 21, 2010 through February 28, 2011, as part of the Conservancy’s Mad. Sq. Art program.  

Featuring  three new major public art commissions, Jim Campbell’s Scattered Light blanket Madison Square Park’s Oval Lawn with a 3-D matrix of nearly 2000 LED lights featuring moving images.  

For the largest of the three commissions, which shares the name Scattered Light with the exhibition, nearly 2000 LED lights, encased in standard light-bulb casings, create a vibrant light grid suspended within a support structure spanning 20 feet high and 80 feet wide, across the center of Madison Square Park’s Oval Lawn. The LED bulbs, engineered to flicker scattered light at the command of computer programming, create the illusion of figurative images that explore and reflect  the human experience amidst the urban landscape. These figures appear to move across the park’s central Oval Lawn. As one travels around the work, the vantage point alters and the light figures begin to abstract, blurring the boundaries between image and object. Both abstract and representational, sculptural and image based, Scattered Light illuminate and activate Madison Square Park with Campbell’s light-based sculptural approach to the concept of contemporary image-making as pixilation in a manner that is at once elegantly simple and quintessentially contemporary. 

Accompanying Scattered Light, the Broken Window installation is situated near the main entrance to Madison Square Park at 23rd Street and Fifth Avenue. An array of LEDs encased in a glass-brick wall (70”h x 70”w x 10”d) create illuminated images that appear to glide across the glass plane, reflecting the movements of the city around them and echoing the aesthetic poetry of the Scattered Light installation.  

As the third component of Campbell’s site-specific Madison Square Park installation, the artist presents a visual symphony of light timed to pulse in rhythmic patterns reflective of the eclectic sounds of urban subway systems and its travelers beneath the surface of city streets. Voices in the Subway Station features 18 glass tablets (14” x 22”) lit from below by LEDs specifically programmed to pulse at intervals and times designated to create a visual orchestra of  individual  voices in the context  of overlapping  conversations and subway happenings. Together, the coordinated pulses create a visual wave of light symbolic of the trademark sounds that mark the progression of subway trains rumbling on arrival only to pass and travel forth, carrying the sounds of commuters with them. Voices in the Subway Station is situated on the East lawn of Madison Square Park, adjacent to Madison Avenue between 24th and 25th streets. 

The artist, Jim Campbell, comments,  “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to present my newest and largest scaled light-based installation inside Madison Square Park. Works of art created from light work better in nature, and the grand scale of this installation will be enhanced by the interaction between the thousands of visitors to the park each evening.”  

President of the Madison Square Park Conservancy Debbie Landau notes, “The pleasure of coming across Jim Campbell and Scattered Light as a public art program, is that we can present art in the City that is of a medium completely relevant of today and today’s New Yorkers. Technology is becoming increasingly more important in both daily life and art and it is a pleasure that we have been able to reflect this in Mad. Sq. Art’s programming from Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s Pulse Park in 2008, to video installations by Ernie Gehr this past spring, and now with this new commission by Jim Campbell.” 

Born 1965 in Chicago and educated at M.I.T., earning two degrees in Electrical Engineering and Mathematics, Jim Campbell’s inventive fusion of science and art is recognized worldwide. His work has been exhibited to great acclaim at institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, The Smithsonian, The Whitney Museum of American Art, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He is the honored recipient of various public art commissions and awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship Award, Langlois Foundation Grant, and a Rockefeller Fellowship Award in Multimedia, among others. As an engineer Campbell holds more than a dozen patents in the field of video image processing. His monograph Material Light was published by Hatje Cantz in 2010. Jim Campbell lives and works in San Francisco and is represented by Hosfelt, San Francisco and Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery, New York. 

Madison Square Park Conservancy