Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Jim Campbell: Scattered Light

Madison Square Park continues their impressive public art program with Jim Campbell's 'Scattered Light' installation, up through February. Kate and I wandered that way a few weeks ago on an indulgent day off packed with brunch, pedicures, art, and Tempranillo. It was January 3rd and the rest of the city was still hungover, leaving Manhattan empty and big for the two of us. I liked that day.

Campbell's interest is in 'low resolution imagery'. He aims to test visual perception and the amount of information required to make an image recognizable in the human mind. The result is a shimmering block of hanging bulbs that project images--ever so slightly-- of passing figures. One can't help but nod at Felix Gonzalez Torres (whose photos of light bulbs I have hanging above my bed) although conceptually Campbell seems to pointedly direct our thoughts, while Torres blows off his commentary like those fluffy white dandelions. I actually prefer Torres, but I'll spare you that lecture.

The work shines from the center of the great lawn of Mad Sq Park, where we of course aren't allowed walking access, but view its undulating light from the periphery. It's undoubtedly brilliant there in the moonlight, shining on the snow, but perhaps turns a little too 'holiday' in this context. I'd like to see it in the summertime when light is less nostalgic, less comforting. We could sit there and split a milkshake and consider Campbell's influence without shivering ourselves into giggles. Just sayin'.

'Scattered Light' is on view at Madison Square Park from now until February 2011.

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