The Art of Jim Campbell: Seeing In Pixels


25 Responses to “The Art of Jim Campbell: Seeing In Pixels”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi, I would like to cite this article in a paper I am writing. Where did you get the quotes from Jim Campbell from? Did you interview him personally?

  2. Anomalous says:

    A cool application of this is restoring vision to the blind. I can’t find any links about it, but I remember a small camera sends a signal to an array that can transmit electrical info directly to the optic nerve. The array in the example I saw was something like 6×6. The patient wasn’t about to see the Mona Lisa again or anything, but it worked well enough to tell shadows and borders of objects. Imagine if, after 30 years of blindness, you got to see the world again, but only through pixels. It only works with a developed visual cortex, which you don’t have if you are blind from birth.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Phenomenal timing! I was just in Shanghai last week and bought the following artwork:

    Here is a ton more. Click on one and then on the video tab on the bottom right of the new frame

    The low-rez videos don’t do the high quality/contrast LED’s justice.

    But the same concept – the gallery owner (a cool Frenchman called Thomas) told me that “models” are all performance artists specially selected for these. The ballerina is a lieutenant in the Chinese Army, and studied something like “military ballet.” Whatever…that’s certainly not as weird as many of the things I had to eat…


  4. Michael Wolfendale says:

    I saw a bunch of paintings in a small gallery in Newcastle a few years ago which took the same kinds of ideas. The gallery owners suggested that looking at the paintings through the camera of your mobile phone increases the clarity. This worked for me with the “Man Running And Falling” video. It’s quite interesting. Also this reminds me of Chuck Close’s later works, which everyone should check out as he is fantastic.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The low-resolution running man combines two degradations: low resolution, and non-adjacent pixels. Changing the scene from a dot array to filled contiguous pixels without changing the colors or the resolution makes a big boost in recognition. I was given this as a project as a young engineer in 1975, when it was realized that the 8 x 8 pinpoint display of an IR image sensor didn’t yield anything recognizable. Expanding the dots to squares with some TTL logic and fun, suddenly made the images recognizable. Blurry still, but recognizable.

  6. Angryjim says:

    Is this the same Jim Campbell who went to Kcai in the 90s? It was funny cause I did too and my name is the same. When I was a freshman in 1995 he had gallery shows in town. Maybe that was a different video artist, but it would be quite a coincidenceif he is not one and the same.

  7. maxoid says:

    funny thing about that still frame from the run/fall vid is, when it’s scrolling by on my screen, it reads as a man in a place, but when i stop moving it, it goes back to abstract red dots.

    neat stuff!

  8. codeman38 says:

    Apparently the second video (“Jim Campbell 2″) is region-locked and inaccessible within the US. A shame, because I was rather curious to see it.

  9. Anonymous says:

    squinting helps a lot too.

  10. BCJ says:

    “Jim Campbell 2″ also seems to be inaccessible from Canada.

    It is nonetheless, a cool post

    • Maggie Koerth-Baker says:

      So, apparently, despite the fact that I got these videos directly from the artist and have his permission to post them, YouTube is claiming a copyright infringement on the Jim Campbell 2 video. I’m trying to get it worked out. Apologies for the inconvenience. It’s a cool video and I want you all to see it so I’ll see what I can do to correct this mistake.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I saw a bunch of this work at MICA in Baltimore when I was a freshman, circa fall 2004. The stuff is very nice in person.

  12. jfrancis says:

    The recognizable motion against a pixel grid is similar to a moving nude behind rippled shower curtain glass. Your mind does the tracking, and a sort of image averaging takes place…

    …and that page with the low resolution Lincoln mosaic on it skips a step…

  13. nanodust says:

    reminds me of jason salavon’s work ‘top 25′ (and many others)

  14. Anonymous says:

    Great post…its bizarre because last month we put up a holderpage for our website (whilst we do a much needed renew) which uses a similar theory to get over the message – if you don’t keep moving in this current creative climate you disappear…

  15. Anonymous says:

    It’s amazing how much filtering really does make the image easier to see. I added a blur filter to Running and Falling, and the image just jumped off the screen. You can see it here:

  16. SteveT says:

    I was struggling with the boxing one – until the ref’ walked through the shot, then it all just made sense. However, I was totally gob-smacked when the filter was removed at just how little information there actually was.

    Mind = blown!

  17. rrh says:

    I watched the one video for a long time, and all I could get out of it was different coloured blobs. Then I read that it was a boxing match and it suddenly all clicked.

    It’s similar to the Abe Lincoln picture. If you hadn’t seen that exact same photo of Lincoln before, you certainly wouldn’t figure it out.

    Maybe this guy should make some vision impaired video games for Sony.

  18. Maggie Koerth-Baker says:

    Good news! We’ve got the mistaken copyright dispute worked out with YouTube! I’ve put the Boxing Match video back in the story. If you can’t see it, just reload the page. It’ll be there shortly.


  19. nixiebunny says:

    This is the same as my SatanVision, but taken to an extreme. I used 12,288 pixels to produce what are amazingly detailed images of people and other recognizable things on a big LED television.
    It is quite interesting to watch a low-resolution display. The things that your brain fills in are astounding, such as the sheen on a suit jacket or the wave in a hairdo – stuff that obviously can’t exist in the red dots that your eyes see.

  20. azriel says:

    Oh, what the heck. I’ll also take this opportunity to pimp a fun related experiment of mine, based on the programming environment Processing and a webcam:

Leave a Reply