Far Away Up Close

Stanford University come on welcome to the Stanford seminar in people computers and design today we’re really fortunate to have the artist Jim Campbell here I saw Jim speak at Berkeley about seven or eight years ago and he both has these incredibly beautiful artworks that really stuck in my mind and also he has a wonderful ability to conceptualize of the field of computer art and it was one of those talks that stuck in my mind for many years and then when gail.white came here to speak in the seminar about six months ago I brought this up I said you know I love a lot of Jim Campbell’s work and she says well you should invite Jim and so you know that afternoon I invited Jim and we’re really lucky to be able to have him here this spring next week we’re going to have Gary and Judy Olson from the university of Irvine and anybody would like to meet with them they’ll be around here for for most of the day all right thanks that was nice and short thank you it’s exciting for me to be here I mean I looked at the string of people that have been here in the last many years and kind of an honor to be part of that thread but I’m also kind of excited to be here because I am an engineer I’ve worked in Silicon Valley on and off since 1978 I think but through that through the time since then I’m also been an artist and I’ve talked about my work probably about a hundred times and it’s the first time that I’ve ever had an on completely non art crowd in the audience so I’m very excited about having a technology crowd and technology interested people so I’m going to show a if I could get the lights down please thank you I’m going to show a pretty much the span of my art career that started in my mid-thirties till till now and kind of showed the progression that the work has taken over the last twenty years and the format that I was thinking is that we’d have questions during if that’s okay but then also questions after if you want to wait till after so feel free to interrupt me while I’m showing them and discussing discussing the work you turned that sound down a little bit it’s a little loud this is actually a silent work so don’t go too high with it I started doing electronic art in 1988 and I did a series of works that dealt with the theme of mental illness this is probably the only work I’ve ever done that had a human-computer interface in some ways which was a button it’s called shock treatment and you would sit at a table and it would capture an image of your face when you sat down and there was simply a button in front of you and you would press the button and using kind of computer memory is a very simple metaphor for human memory it randomly erased this image of your face as you press the button excuse me one of the things that I was interested in from the very beginning was creating sort of psychological environments using cameras and image processing to create mere feedback systems like that first work that you saw and like this work coming up my background in engineering was hardware so pretty much everything you see on that I’ll be showing you for the next 45 minutes to hour were hardware based works even the ones that should have been done and saw or I did them in hardware because I’m a hardware engineer so that’s kind of how I know how to work this is what were called hallucination where I set up a mirror and created is probably the most complicated work I’ve done even though it was kind of the first work I’ve ever done technically complicated created a mirror where you would stand in front of this system and you would see yourself on fire and kind of the room behind you would be normal the work was a complete failure because the goal of the work was to really upset people at the time and make them think about what it might be like to be mentally ill but of course

people mostly just saw their reflections and would do things like wave at the camera even though they were burning up there is sound turned that sound up a little bit yeah tails that is this virtual woman in this face would come out and stand next to you so you’d be looking at this reflection of yourself and she’d come walk up next to you and she would do things that would also affect the enhance in this case based on the outcome of her flip coin flip the flames would either come on random number generator she was on laserdisc at the time and the way it was all mixed together was using image processing chips in this case all discrete there was no there were no FPGAs or no microprocessors involved one of the ways that I technique that I tried to use to get people to look beyond the kind of wave at the camera effect was to have freeze people’s image when they weren’t looking and then put it up so instead of being able to get an immediate response you would look at this kind of burning icon of yourself as you walked away or possibly not walked away another technique that I tried again to make people upset at the time Dale’s which actually worked a lot better than the flame was to just have people go away base anyway slip so the coin would be flipped and depending on the outcome of the laser disk and the computer random number generator you would come and go in the space I had to kind of invent something that didn’t exist at the time I was code what’s now called a difference key which is how I was able to figure out where people were in the space relative to anything else and here you see how a couple people chose to interact with the virtual woman in the space one of the hard things to deal with was how whether this woman in this space weather was she was behind people or in front of people because obviously she’s just flat and that was challenging another work that I did that kind of used computer memory in very simple ways to be analogous to human memory in this case that this work would capture your image put it on a still frame on the left side and it would gradually propagate to the right as a series of dissolving still images getting noisier and noisier as the image propagated to the right but the image of the work also had a computer with I think of the time of 10 megabyte hard drive that would store images based on the movement in the space so as you were seeing kind of this cartoon strip being created of yourself look experiencing the work you would also see images from the past of locations of the work so the work kind of was defined by its history you’d see it you see it now and you’d see yourself but you would also see the 13 locations or 14 locations that it’s been to over the years that would slowly propagate by and I haven’t changed the hard drive on it so it’s still a 10 megabyte hard drive could only store a thousand images so the way that it deals with that is that it they saw an exponential decay it kind of has a much larger chance of erasing an older image with a newer image so mostly you see images from the last 10 minutes or the last hour and then every once in a while you’ll see an image from 10 years ago if your kind of experience to work in front of it this work incorporated to movie can’t video cameras and I was interested in creating a mirror where you your reflection in the mirror you did what you wouldn’t have control of your body and basically did that two ways one was that the with delay with a 5 second delay but also with staccato movement so that as you were looking at yourself your body would move at 1 second eƤrnur intervals timed with the ticking of the clock of the sorry of the pocket watch so when you when you stood in front of it and you moved your body would move differently than you were

moving so it was kind of disoriented disorienting almost like when you hear your self talking delayed it kind of just makes you not talk okay because it’s so confusing because it kind of disrupts that feedback system that were that we’re all so used to in terms of how we move and now we think one of the things that I always enjoy about the documentation the hours and hours that I recorder how people try to figure the works out and in this case so I didn’t say the the outer part of the watch is real time and so it’s kind of these two worlds that you’re walking into between the real-time world and then the five-second delayed staccato world this next work is a public art work that I did in Phoenix Arizona where the basketball team the Suns played in this kind of tacky food court and I took the columns in the space that were already there concrete columns and I enclosed them with video monitors and brought in images from southern Italy in Greece of columns from Coliseum’s in arenas there kind of to put in this as I said Taco Bell food court but I also had cameras in the each of the columns so that as people walked by their image would be picked up I used a different kind of keyer here it was more of a movement based here again that I kind of had to invent myself otherwise the the images would have been of the McDonald’s that the camera was pointed at and I was more interested in the people the way that I kind of thought about the work was that it was kind of like a wind sculpture where the people going by were the wind so they were part of it whether they kind of reacted to it or not and the biggest challenge for this this was 1992 was how to create a work that didn’t feel like it was a rerun I mean it was a video work 1992 I wasn’t going to throw a videotape in there and have it kind of loop over and over again so the way that I dealt with that was two different ways one was the layering that you’re seeing happening from a database of 500 images was real-time so there was essentially an infinite number of possibilities of layering three or four images on top of each other it would always be a different three or four images combined together but the second thing that I did is the work function as a clock and a calendar so different times of the day in different times of the year different images would come up yes I said that was probably the most challenging part of this work was how to really haven’t feel like not that it was a different work every time that you saw it but also not that it was doing exactly the same thing that would be incredibly boring I also had a camera inside the bowl at the basketball game and I would pull that image out and integrate it into the image processing until they made me take that out because it was showing the team rehearsing to the other team when they weren’t supposed to be seeing them so they made me take the camera out of the bowl um afternoon at this point after doing interactive work for kaya 6 6 or 7 years I kind of saw this model that was happening that was pretty typical both of my work and work that was kind of in the field of interactive art work and that was to give people what they wanted they would walk up to something and something would turned on based on them getting closer and closer so I chose to do two works dedicated to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle that I kind of call anti interactive works very simple you have your body controlled how foggy this cube became so the closer you walked towards this cube with this figure figurine the Buddha inside the more it would fog up in a proportional way so butBut it was lit from the inside the Buddha so as as it disappeared from your sight from your being able to see it instead of seeing the statue you would see the shadow of the statue has kind of projected on to this magic glass as I call it you hear it you can see it for the first installation I actually

showed the camera on the ceiling that was giving me the information about where people were in this space relative so that’s what you’re seeing in the background is the relationship between the figure the people and the and cube the Buddha was sitting on text which you could never read because by the time you were close enough to read it it was too foggy to read one of the things that I kind of learned with this work and spend a lot of time on and the next work was for these interfaces it’s very important to have them not be how can I put it beatable meaning that didn’t matter how you approach that you could kind of crawl up to it or you could kind of shimmy yourself up next to the wall it would still know you were there one of the reasons for that I have found and kind of doing this kind of artwork or at least in museums is that and once people feel like they’ve figured it out they get bored so if I can make them kind of get beyond that notion of the if you want to call it a trick the trick then though maybe pay more attention to it in this case there are these two lovers projected onto a life-size that of salt so a pedestal in the shape of a bed and the closer it’s at the end of a 60-foot hallway and the closer you walk to this pedestal the more zooms in to the point of abstraction so even more kind of voyeurism the Buddha of peace this one also dedicated to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle kind of a literate trivialization literalization of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle in that the the the the more you try to observe this the more you change it in this can up until this point of this that what this work was at the time anyway pivotal for me in that up into this point I used a lot of random number generation in my work as I think did probably all artists at the time working with computers and trying to make something that you were doing seem more intelligent than it really was because if you gave it random processes or random numbers then it would be unpredictable and that meant that it kind of had its own so this is that for this work I didn’t want to do that so as you approach the this image these two figures it actually zoomed them to the point to the left right part of the figures that you walk towards so for example if you walk towards their heads it will zoom into their heads if you walk towards their feet it will zoom into their feet but no one ever figured that out I don’t think anyway but yet it’s not doing a random process it’s actually zooming in to the to the points of the image for a reason and that reason has meaning and that was kind of an important point for me to kind of leave at least for a while the notion of randomness behind to try to get more meaning and subliminal almost in this case the figures were the the salt on the bed in this case was kind of rippled so the figures that you saw was kind of like almost like a shadow of a bird on a beach kind of two and a half dimensional as when you look closely at it mostly they put I remember one in particular that said this piece socks and it was kind of just text in them in the salt so they they did do that that wasn’t part of the wasn’t part of it so if those last two works we’re anti interactive works I did a series of works this being one of that I kind of at this point called ed interactive works because after working with sensors and recording and computer technology it’s kind of those were kind of the tools that I knew and so I chose to do a series of works that use those same tools but the end result was not an interactive thing they all have the same structure of a aluminum box containing an electronic memory of something sorry and and then a representation of that memory kind of connected by wires above the box and it was very interested at the time and just one analogy between computer memory and human memory kind of a complicated one but the notion of

hiddenness that you have memories or ideas in your head and there’s no way of expressing them I mean you can perfectly you can try you know you can draw a picture of them or you can talk about them but they’re still in your head and there’s no perfect representation of them so I was using computer memory the meta nosov kind of computer memory in the same way the work on the left is called photo of my mother and I recorded myself breathing I used an air flow device to record my breath of coming and going kind of volume almost and so her image is modulated by this one-hour recording of my breathing that’s exactly what it’s yeah same with the Buddha piece that I showed earlier if you were here for that and this works called photo of my father portrait of my father and it’s same thing but it’s a modulated it’s a recording of my heartbeat no it was really well one of the things that it was very important for these works also other than that notion of hiddenness was that well I feel like we’re self so hit over the head that our memories are kind of a series of photographs and sound bites so I specifically chose all of the things that I have the 13 or 14 works that I did none of them were based on sounds or images so in other words I didn’t use a microphone to do that I used a EKG machine and I didn’t use a microphone for the breath either I used flow pressure device to measure the so I wanted to get away from that basically cliche notion that a memory is nothing more than memories are nothing more than pictures or sounds hi pardon me presentation there’s two two pieces of text in when they’re showed one is two contents of the box the coffin and the title of the work and that defines their work so for example photo of my mother and then it says my breath with a kind of a time period for example I put on my foot I think it took that piece out so for this work I took the ASCII version of the Bible and that’s the memory and then I recorded me saying than 26 letters of the alphabet so you’re hearing me say the Bible the whole Bible one letter at a time takes 36 days 24 hours a day to go through it and you’re probably the only crowd that I’ve ever shown this to that don’t aren’t sitting there well you didn’t read the Bible for 36 days 24 hours a day did you because usually that’s what they would this work a same concept but I Martin Luther King’s I have a dream speech and then I typed the 26 keys of a typewriter and use that as the vocabulary if you will for the for the speech to be typed out kind of over and over and over again work on the left is called cyclical meter base time and I recorded a woman breathing for an hour so I’m using the clock it kind of is a different kind of meter than the way it’s normally used which is counting the cycles coming from the wall in this case because it’s an old clock and you’ll notice the continuous movement of the old clock which I use for more of a continuous process like breathing and the next work is called cyclical counter base time and it’s a more contemporary clock that has two discrete one second and it’s the same woman blinking for a one-hour period so it’s actually just counting her blinks and for that I had I did use video but I actually kind of extrapolate Adamu vement from the video and for this last work I’m showing it’s um I took recorded the power line fluctuations in the wall and I amplified that process for an eight-hour period so and it was actually during the day that there was an execution in Texas so I took this anonymous photograph of an electrocution and the image becomes modulated by the wall fluctuations from that day and I guess they left this work in it for this work I wore an accelerometer on my foot and walked on the beach for 45 minutes so your kind of scene and then modulated this image of sand using the liquid crystal display

and so you’re seeing kind of a representation if you will of what my foot was maybe feeling walking in the sand yep sorry that was probably the easiest one I just stuck a basically a meter that I built that just recorded the if you can just do that in the wall and you’ll get fluctuations in the voltage quite a few fluctuations actually all I’ll tell you though none of these works were live I did that over an eight-hour period in my house actually and then put that in memory although all these works are about capturing these events and then putting them in the memory does that answer your question in 1996 I was asked to give her a lecture at MoMA in New York and it was only maybe about the second or third lecture I’d ever given so I was really nervous so I spent about 6 months thinking about it instead of now where I maybe spend about a day or so about it and what I what I did was I kind of came up with I well I looked at the field of my field it’s probably too big a word for what it is that I do but interactive our computer-based artwork and one of the things I noticed was this playlist this is what they call a formula for computer art was was how many kind of what I now call one liners is very simple computer based artwork where you doesn’t even really use the computers essentially you have a process and you basically have a straight line through to a representation kind of a mapping of that process and so it kind of came up with a formula for about 50% of the computer art that was being done at the time including my own which was kind of the beginning of me not wanting to do computer art anymore because if you can come up with a formula for what you do it’s probably not very interesting and it’s amazing this is kind of a more contemporary version of what I did then but it’s amazing how many artworks just went by you that I’ve actually seen over the years but it really did actually start to kind of turn me off from doing the kind of one-liners this being a perfect example this was the work that I did in New York inside the Anchorage of the Brooklyn Bridge is this incredible credible space all you saw in this face when you walked in was this candle but you heard this incredibly loud wind sound and if you lived hopefully closely probably only about 30% of the people noticed the wind sound was being created by the minor fluctuations of the candle I had a hidden camera that was measuring the movement of the candle and creating a very big storm based on the really minor fluctuations because there was no wind excuse me or very little wind in the space so if you think about the diagram that just went by before this is kind of a you know again a straight across thing it’s flickering and then wind on the other side though this was actually the second version of the work the first version that I did actually had a giant light in a slightly a slight other space so I was flickering like a room of this size based on a little candle and I did end up liking this work infinitely better and somehow the translation of the senses using using them the movement to generate a sound worked a lot better than the the lights innovating the light I started getting interested in I guess it was the beginning of an obsession with the pixel this was really the first work it consisted of these two color fields fairly dynamic color fields in this case in this hallway and that’s all you saw basically these two big four-foot changing lights kind of in in the walls of this hallway changing fairly quickly the installation was set up so you could walk behind into this little closet area the other side of those color fields where they were being generated and there was nothing in that

room other than the projectors creating those color fields and then directly below each projector was a LCD screen with a static image or almost static image of a single pixel slowly moving across and hopefully at that point you realize when you’re in the space that this giant color field behind you is is essentially a magnification of this pixel as it’s gradually scanning the image the and again probably maybe even less on this one maybe 20% of the people figured that out the goal of the work was I mean from kind of uh I don’t know what I was thinking about doing it the thought was that having this light kind of shroud you as you were looking at the so it would kind of almost in a virtual-reality way make you feel like you were that pixel moving across as this light was enveloping you didn’t work in that regard I think it worked maybe a more conceptual level this is a work that I took the same idea created an interactive work with it so there’s this image in this pedestal projected from below and you put your hand on the on the image and the image fades away and fades to a single color based on where your hand is so just like the previous work where you have this scanning pixel defining the color in this case you’re defining it back to Heisenberg notions influencing my work you can’t see the image anymore that you’re exploring because it goes away so you’re exploring this image that was there so you’re simply magnifying the pixel that in this case is the person’s middle finger so wherever they move their finger in this case it’s the woman’s mouth as she’s talking so you’re kind of feeling that one part of the image just in the movement the rhythm of this sound for this work was uh not synchronized in terms of its audibility and being able to hear it so that when the image faded away and you could no longer see it as you were exploring it you could hear the sound so that would give you cues as to what the image was doing since you could no longer see it the one interesting thing about this work I think for me was that it was a an interface that didn’t have any pressure that it was goal-oriented I mean it was really about exploring and most of the people who interacted with it weren’t trying to get somewhere it was really more about this playfulness for me as an artist that work was not successful in that it it had a half a page of instructions at the doorway and there’s nothing more I hate than an artwork that has a half a page of instructions to know how to interact with it or deal with it this was a work that I’ve only shown once because it’s the most boring work on the planet but it kind of changed my life so it was just a personal kind of revelation now it’s kind of obvious but at the time it wasn’t I did it shortly after I got my first 24-bit computer card essentially the first time I saw a real image what I would call a real image I guess on a computer screen and I woke up sometime in the first week of having that card little literally in a cold sweat I have mathematics background other than engineering in the realization that there’s only if even though this image was real and incredible I remember and it was even that an image of a leaf there’s only a finite number of images possible on the on my this blue screen on my new palette it’s finite and of course that made me think and so this work generates all possible images any image you can ever think I will eventually show up on this screen a preset you know an exact picture of your death your birth it will eventually show up on this screen and so that kind of freaked me out at the time and my background was photography and film from the outside before I started doing this kind of work and not a kind of thought you would ever have with photography and film unless maybe you were a physicist that there’s only a finite number of possible number of images but once you move to the digital realm and becomes very finite very definable finite I should say and

that started to make me think about how to bring non finite kind of continuous things into my work and in particularly using this thing called a reconstruction filter this is kind of a diagram of how information gets digitized into a computer and out of a computer and one of the things that was interested in was images what’s lost in that process and again people don’t know what I’m saying when I say this in art land but now that I’m in computer land we all know that there’s no such thing as a digital image that there are only dim images that were digital and in this case I’m showing two representations of the same data of an image so it’s the same digital file if you will same data but two different representations and you know you could ask the question which one is more accurate and I can answer it but I won’t so that starting to think about kind of getting away from the digital I started a series of works that have continued to this day seven or eight years ago maybe nine years ago now where I created display devices to show images at they’re kind of borderline of perceptibility in this case it’s an 800 pixel image of a figure running and I’m kind of demonstrating a filter that I put in front of the screen that eliminates the digital infrared digital structure of the image I get it by kind of diffusing out the pixels one of the things that I never actually understood when I looked at that Bell Labs image of Abraham Lincoln when I first saw it was that the pixels when you see pixels in an image like that they actually get in the way of your brain trying to decipher what you’re looking at it’s essentially noise the digital struck the visibility of a digital structure in an image is noise to your brain and trying to see what the image is in this case it’s we’re looking at a boxing match and another thing that I found that I found which in retrospect is completely obvious but is that when I started using color to define these images at very low resolution this is only 88 pixels that when I started to use color I needed a lot fewer pixels to exist right on that edge because each pixel had more information it kind of had three degrees of information red green and blue in this case so the typical lowest point that I use for a normal black and white image is about 192 pixels but in this case is you know close less than half of that to define this image one of the things about these low resolution works is they’re very distance they’re very related to the viewing distance for example this image on the screen believe it or not is extremely clear to me but I assume that it’s very abstract to you but if you saw that from a block away it wouldn’t be abstract you would be able to see the boxing match and here again I remove the physical reconstruction filter in this case and it’s even more abstract even more even more kind of hard to perceive again because the little blinking lights your brain is trying to decipher those as much as it’s trying to decipher an image so playing with that notion of the filtering they’re reconstructing of an image this has a this work is again an 800 pixel work that has a piece of defusing Plexiglas in front of it at an angle so the figures the cars and this worker going back and forth and I can’t lie and say between a digital and analog like I normally do when I give my talk but in this case from a continuous to a discrete representation of these figures kind of in this gradual way because the further away the Plexiglas is from the image the more it diffuses the image

I don’t usually lie I usually tell people both both both things this work takes a kind of combines two mediums I took a photograph of the New York Public Library and made a photograph ear print of the that image on a rice paper and I put one of the low-resolution panels behind it and I shot the video of the figures from exactly the same perspective that I shot the library with a high resolution still camera so it’s a super imposition of the low resolution movement with the high resolution still image but also kind of combining of this old old medium with a new medium yep a high frame rate and I would guess that that has a lot to do with our quick I mean I have to skip the next ten minutes I yes exactly and that’s probably after this piece I’ll talk about time and one of the things that I wanted to do show this briefly this work is extreme in terms of the information that I’m giving to the viewers it’s just a perimeter of an image so it’s 50 pixels defining the edge of the image and you wouldn’t know what you’re looking at unless you looked at the title of the work maybe the fire it’s called a fire or a freeway in a walk a freeway at night is what it is and so given the context of the title near the work then you can actually stand back and say yeah I see that but even more than saying I see that I think it’s felt and I think that’s important and that’s led me to a lot of other work the notion that some small clues or cues can actually kind of send you in a different direction in a meaningful meaningful way this is a series of worse than I did that use home movies as the footage and instead of the LEDs facing you or a screen in between you and the LEDs these LEDs are facing and they’re in a curtain they’re facing the wall so this image is created by this curtain of LEDs that it’s also in the way of seeing it so again it goes back to kind of my obsession or it’s not it’s not even something consciously thought about but the heisenberg notion that hopefully there are no physicists in the audience that the display device is in the way of the display yeah and i was shocked i did two of these this first one has a three inch pitch between the pixels and the second one has it had a six inch and then put them both in the same art show and i thought for sure that you wouldn’t be able to see this image that that taking out that much information was going to be too much and that you wouldn’t be able to understand the image was completely shocked that you could to the point of two ways before the show I did a third work that I don’t show here where I actually same size squares inch and a quarter black squares that I only put an eighth of an inch between each black squares so the whole thing was this big and all you were seeing were these lines and that was also actually very clear if you were far enough away so this is the six inch pitch one and the gallery was too small to see this work it was it was about a 30-foot gallery and a 15-foot image and you really needed to be about 40 or 50 feet away these are the kinds of things that were hard to pre pre guess ahead of time see 10 more minutes yeah to what extent is that physical realization sort of LEDs important also imagined was taking a larger LCD screen but only lighting up every end little rectangle of pixels and leaving the others dark um being an engineer and thinking about problems I certainly thought of that at the beginning when I started doing these

works and I can’t answer the question other than saying it’s completely different but I can’t tell you why it’s completely important that these are that you actually see the device that you feel it to the Edit is this totally thing I don’t understand there have been a few times when I’ve shown these works in situations where there’s a very there’s a screen in front of them in a very dark room at the end of a hallway where you actually have no idea of the apparatus of the work and it’s a completely different work frankly very boring work without being able to kind of see the structure as part of it but I don’t mean intellectually boring that’s what’s kind of interesting about it just becomes a different thing the way your brain takes it in and I wish i but I don’t but it is very important and I’m glad I didn’t listen to my you know second question of well maybe I should just do this with video because it would have lasted about a week and with a man bored yeah exactly this was a series of works that I did thinking about movement actually let me back up a minute here so I started to photograph these works for documentation this is a figure running again and one of the things I realized was that or I saw I wasn’t you know 98 out of a hundred pictures that I took it was just this black blob on the screen and so it kind of clued me in pretty quickly that the the movement in these very low resolution images was actually the most important thing about your brain comprehensive what it is that you’re looking at way more important than I mean you can’t really separate them out but way more important than this kind of individual series of still frames and I’m showing that here by this figure walking that just completely just turns into some black blob so that led to this series of works which motion studies of disabled people walking I did six sick worked with six different people and for me it was really the first time that the medium and the content came together because the medium inherently gets rid of the hair style of the people and the gender of the people and the clothes they have on so it’s really a distillation using the medium which is which it inherently does to distill the movement from the images of these people walking it’s really just the gait that that you get from the from the works and in my kind of way of doing these continuous transitional things if you if you take the argument and you believe it that when these things are still they’re abstract and when they’re moving they’re not I did this work of his ocean waves which over a 10-minute period slows down and stops gradually so it starts out as completely representational it ends up as completely abstract just by slowing down and a video wouldn’t do that a video would say of ocean waves would be a video of ocean waves and it would end up as a you know photo of ocean waves but because the movement is the most important thing as the student pointed out it took me three years of working with this technology for me to figure it out but then what happens when you actually slow down gradually and it happens and I’ve only watched it actually go through its whole process once but it’s kind of disorienting because you actually remember actually remember the movement happening also interestingly sell at this resolution the these works have something in common with sound or at least recordings of sound if you take sound and you slow it down it’s abstract I mean it becomes it heads towards abstraction because sound is defined by movement as these low resolution this work is called self-portrait of Paul Dehn marinus who’s a professor here in the art department who’s inspired my

work and I took a I recorded his voice going as low as he could go and tone to as high as he could go and tone and took a low resolution image of him also and the way the work functions is in the lower box on the left is the image stored the image of Paul only 192 pixels the box above it are a series of 32 tones of Paul’s voice again going from as low as he could go to as high as he could go so the image plays the sound to generate his image into the room in it through a speaker low tones being black pixels and high tones being white pixels and then there’s a microphone 4 feet away to capture this sequence of tones and recreate that image with obviously room noise and any kind of sound activity in the space interfering with that process and maybe putting a big scar on Paul’s face as it’s trying to be generated and this work this work more than any work I’ve done uh no I don’t think pause here see drove the gallery nuts wherever they showed it for 30 days because living with that kind of had to be pretty loud because of the technology I was using I started looking at ways to kind of continue a progression and this is a work called reconstruction that starts to bring this image out into three-dimensional land it’s a it’s a two and a half inch thick piece of resin with particles inside it such that it’s kind of like a flashlight in the smoke-filled room do you see the image as it’s being created you see the pixels spreading out that was kind of the beginning of pulling the image off the wall if you will this was the next version of that it’s a public artwork in Colorado where it’s a 10 by 13 foot image in on the side of a building and the they wanted me to deal with this whole city block of these figures walking so what I did is I pulled out pixels from the image and spread them across the city block connected in real time so including a cluster of 16 right in front which were right from the middle of the image so it was kind of a way or it is kind of a way of extracting information from the image that isn’t really visual it really becomes more about rhythm so that is directly tied in a one-to-one way with 16 pixels above the in the image that’s recognizable you obviously don’t see an image in the the 16 columns there or in this case the 22 sorry the 11 columns that span the 200 feet across the block but if you have the reference of the waves behind it or even in your head then you you I would say to use a word that I don’t use very much with art or science but you feel it so you feel the rhythm of the image even though you can’t say that you see it that work only had a single light underneath each of the this works at ucsf in san francisco the previous work had a single light underneath each of those cubes this work I used the same resolution in the cubes that I did in the structure and there so there are 25 pixels behind each of those glass bricks in that large structure which 6 feet square so the cubes that are spread around the garden which are then connected to this wall in real time now have slight movement within them because there are actually 25 pixels in the cube so you can actually feel something moving across these cubes this is a hopefully working say the threat roses this was there yeah forever yeah this was a commission the other one also no that’s my next project at the airport

slightly different direction taking I mean on that same theme of extracting information out of an image and mapping it kind of into in this case into the ruler into the space so in this case I took divided this blast cast glass chair that took a couple years to make into 17 pixels each structure of the chair is a essentially mapped to a different pixel on the screen so when something happens on the image behind it again you feel whatever’s happening on the image behind it happened across the chair Ron crust took two years to make and somebody sat in a month during the first shell of it and broke it shattered into pieces gajala we didn’t want to put a sign up right near near the work that so for example a figure would walk across the this low resolution panel and it would almost be like a shadow would be walking across the chair and I’m working on a whole room that way so that an image is kind of mapped to a whole room so this is 200 pixels defining a almost done here 200 pixels defining an image again with a thing in front of it of this running figure this is 48 where if I tell you it’s a running figure maybe maybe you’ll believe me kind of thing probably not which is why used 192 for most of these and then the next thing when all this electronic artists have tried at one point or another this is one pixel representing that running figure say by reducing the information in the image and so what what comes to mind from that firstly I would guess wrongly as probably all of you know is that there’s not enough information in a single stream of data to actually have any have anything of real meaning and I kind of took that as a challenge and spent a year creating a work about that where the work is what let me show this first so this is this has a title note that says walking back and forth and the challenge I did for this work was to it’s called last day in the beginning of March and it’s a poem about the last day of my brother’s life and it consists simply of these 25 circles of light projected onto the floor each going at their own rhythm and each with a little half a sentence of text next to them describing what it is that you’re looking at so I wanted to essentially kind of a symphony and light when you walk into the space but then when you start to look at in detail at each of the individual rhythms of light they have meaning after you’ve read the kind of cues to kind of trigger you in one of the things I noticed right away when I started doing this work was that I wasn’t going to do it with sensors because so many things that I wanted to capture walking for example weren’t going to be very easy to do that way so I ended up drawing graphs in time kind of a more abstract way of defining these rhythms and light than trying to record them from you know a person walking how do you get a person walking or how do you get with the rhythm of windshield wipers I mean there’s that you could you could come up with many ways of doing them but generally I would argue that there’s no one way that would be better than actually just creating it in terms of getting a point across so the work became fictional in terms of the rhythms that I used in how I created them I’m very good with an oscilloscope and so I kind of understand the relationship of time with with graphed intuitively just because it’s what I did in my job for 25 years so this is what the space looked like it’s kind of a rendering of the space with these 25 dynamic change it dynamically changing circles of light and then each one had a little kind of title minute to describe what it is that you were looking at this is the work itself this show that that Berkeley Art

Museum originally in 2003 so this is kind of extreme in terms of the direction that have been heading of minimization trying to represent something in some sort of essential essential way that’s not necessarily in this case by reducing and a gathered information more by creating it this is a telephone ringing and then being answered and picked up and if you actually stand in front of that and you know what it is then it all kind of makes sense to you hopefully a few more works here and then I’m done and we can have awfully more questions um for this series of photographic based work though I was interested in taking time and compressing it and trying to understand what would come out at the end it was more of a exploration out of curiosity so for this work that took the entire film psycho and compressed it into a single frame and again when I tell software people that actually did this in hardware they look at me like I’m completely nuts and it probably was but it’s how I know how to do things so I built this box you plug video in and it just accumulates cumulates and averages over and over and over again it could play I think it’d take 20 hours of information into it so there’s actually information left in the image there’s a lamp on the right hand side and that’s because Hitchcock used very long shots so they’re kind of get burned in at the end you can actually the first half hour the movie is Janet Lee driving kind of a shot various shots from the front through the windshield and you can actually see almost a skeletal look in the middle of this image with like two places where her eyes are from her moving and again this was done just because I was curious what you know if anything would be there and fortunately the first thing I tried there was something there and the second one I tried there wasn’t and that’s the Wizard of Oz there’s nothing left comprehensible except for the sky there were a lot of skies and in the film and then I did my own images through the same process and realized I was doing what the futurists were trying to do almost a hundred years ago which is to capture movement in this static frame of photograph or mostly in their case painting and sculpture but also photography so I followed an automobile down a freeway for two minutes it passed me during that time so you’re seeing it from the front the side and behind all at the same time which is exactly what there’s a famous painting called the dynamism of an automobile and so I did kind of some of the same things that the Futurist did they didn’t do a cow but I did a cow so one of the things I realized when I after I shot these is okay there’s movement I’m trying to capture movement but a lot of the movement is mine I mean I’m pointing at these things and I’m doing this so I flipped it around and they did two works called dynamism of the observer in this case I stood there for an hour and so the hands are blurry because the clocks moving but the clock is blurry because I’m moving in this case nothing is moving in the image except for me for an hour and a half so you just kind of squatted next to this statue so it’s completely about my movement and then two more pieces that deal with time I wanted to build a clock that um you didn’t have to set and so this is a very simple concept if any of you know what a phase lock loop is I simply put a light sensor outside that just measured light level in an area where there wasn’t a lot of artificial light and this works phases itself to the rhythms of the Sun and get tells you the percentage of the day gone based just on the light level measurement outside so in this case twenty nine point five percent of the day is gone and it speeds up obviously more during the day in the summer I mean in the winter slows down in the summer has jet lag if I take it to a new location it takes three or four days to kind of find

its rhythm again just based on this it’s not a tracking sense or anything it’s just a light level outside then taking the that same information I did another work where this woman gradually she sits down at sunrise and she answers the phone at sunset and based on that same information so it takes for 12 hours on you know and the typical day to walk sitting down to that’s what it looks like at noon and then this last work is portrait of a portrait of Harry Nyquist who is an engineer that probably is why I do all these works and engineer that I cursed at or in my job over the last 25 years probably more than god that’s it I’m done questions please I have one about preservation I’m actually you get a bunch you know you’ve got works in home upcoming a collection and lots of places where we’re hoping they’ll be around for a good long while but it seems like these are harder to keep running forever in paintings how does how does that all work um completely differently with institution the institution and also with artists artists the Met and New York for example asked for two copies they just want to put a backup copy away and they’ll never lend it kind of separately from the other one unless the other one breaks and then they’ll have that backup copy there’s an organization that’s called doe cam that’s coming out of the collaboration between an institution in Montreal and the Guggenheim and that’s all they’re focusing on is is the preservation and creating kind of manuals for how to recreate kind of existing works where and for example in these cases where the hardware the physicality is important but also in their case where it’s software that no longer works with any computer that’s out there kind of thing and I’m currently kind of work manuals to ship with my works right now I send schematics sometimes and things like that but that’s pretty useless to most people so it is it is kind of difficult and basically one of the things I found out recently is that LED manufacturers have been lying and I’m getting works back that I told they could leave on all the time in 2000 that are too dim to see so I’ve started to use for example in my case very high power LEDs and I’m running them at about 5% of their rating so that they’ll last a lot longer which have always done you know 25 to 50 percent but apparently that wasn’t enough yes oh do you think people have more appreciation for electronic art no that we are more aware of technology and electronics in general or they did not make a difference like from 1990 to 2000 completely different completely different I mean I don’t like do people like because now you look at a mid generation crew saw a computer of software and then you have Photoshop and stuff like that do people take electronic art for granted or is it like do you still like is there a distinction between what art was in 1990 and what it is today well there’s a distinction for some people and the distinctions are different I mean for a while it was hard for many writers and curators just because the vocabulary even is so different and you know how do you talk about something and Photoshop is a good example because I think for a long time you could take an image put it in Photoshop and press a button and you would have you know what some people might call a work of art who had never seen Photoshop before so it certainly brought up and has brought up many kind of new issues however I think at least those issues will be gone in 10 years because everyone will kind of have those references and those points of a beginning so we’re still kind of in a transitional time I think but when I started doing this kind of work there were not that many people doing this kind of work in the late 80s and now there’s probably literally a thousand times more people doing the kind of work that I do in their art world maybe ten

thousand times more people I mean there were no departments dedicated to the work that I do other than the Media Lab but that really wasn’t about art in any way at that time and now you know UCLA has probably a twenty people in their new media department so it’s completely different yeah process my Christmas video if you shift the prototype or when you’re working yet did you flip into design mode and then just good question I first shipped the prototype I make the prototype to see if it’s an interesting idea the LED boards are a good example because it took a long time to make that first one just because it had so many wires on it and I did chip that one I’m trying to trade trade them one of the kind of mass-produced ones and get it back because it’s kind of more fun in a way it’s got the ICS on the front and it’s a little more cyber looking um so but these days circuit boards it you know getting slightly specific are fairly cheap to do and so sometimes if I have an idea I’ll just get a circuit board mate and hope that something comes of it kind of thing but for I usually build the first of kind of anything anything I do and then after that if I feel like I’m going to do a number of them more I’ll have I’ll make a circuit board and figure out a process for kind of because I worked in Silicon Valley for 25 years I have some connections down there in terms of board stuffers and word laid out people and manufacturing and things no that was where each each led has a microprocessor each LED board has a microprocessor on it a dollar pic yeah I read that one was getting them because when I first did it again III my background as FPGA I work a lot with field programmable gate arrays versus microprocessors and that was my first microprocessor project so the challenge with that was I originally on the first prototype as you were saying I had little jumpers on the but there’s like 1,200 LEDs in some of those and two like jumper those to figure out so the challenge that was to come up with an automatic addressing scheme so no matter where how I put them together they would figure out where they were once I did that and became pretty straightforward yes tracked down these really great materials they’re example the resin or is it sort of like a an idea of what you’re looking for is there across the experimentation it’s it’s kind of both at the sometimes it’s sometimes the worst are triggered by a new technology like when I first saw that liquid crystal display material that was foggy and clear it was magic to me thing I wanted to figure out I mean this kind of controlling perception that way I wanted to figure out what to do with it in I’m changing that way a little bit in the past I tended to only use materials that I was comfortable with or could get comfortable with but more recently like the glass casting for example in the some of the works I started working with other people and say and using them as vendors almost to create a work so it’s more about learning about what the limitations are for a certain technology like glass or resin or yes pieces with the Buddha is referencing some German pecs good question also in relation to that how but you’re introduced to the art world and if you continue to stay an engineer and an artist or looking at your artwork your pieces of all from one to another depending on the content is so natural that one project led to the next but it doesn’t necessarily scheme to be informed by new technology or what’s going on in engineering so yeah I started during engineering Silicon Valley 1978 and I made films kind of simultaneous with that films and videos for 10 or 12 years and then working in Silicon Valley for that whole time maybe three or four days a week and weekends and one extra day usually I would find time and make time for doing art work which in that case was more filmmaking and then in the late 80s I kind of you know ended up combining my interest in image making with my the only skill I really had which was electrical

engineering and image processing and started doing this kind of work and then gradually since 1988 when I was working four days a week till about a year ago to two years ago when I was working four days a month just to stay involved just because I like I like engineering and I actually miss it I’ve been doing it for thirty years and then just gave it up a year ago completely because I just didn’t have enough time anymore I guess I’m a little more tired than it needs to be yeah I guess there was a not I mean I couldn’t do the work without thinking of namjoon I couldn’t do the brooder without thinking of Nam June Paik for that work I didn’t want to use the cliche kind of 60 70s Zen meets physics you know Heisenberg Buddha I didn’t want to do that so I tried about a hundred different objects in there literally and the Buddha worked the best so I just stuck with it so yeah I knew about the nub dude Paikin I knew it would be a reference and he certainly that series of works of his or the favorite works of his that that I’ve looked that I’ve liked the kind of self reflecting video works so you’re working pretty key nonsense the you know the way it’s made is pretty important a monitor wouldn’t work and the breathing piece has a box that physically has the memory and a lot of these things not metaphorical it’s not like you took a PC and hooked it up this actually it’s real custom hardware in any case and I was reporting to you you know I don’t think I’ve been to an art talk before where phase lock loop came up and so part of a lot of what’s interesting about this is kind of the geekiness of it all well I mean it’s a good question I don’t see myself as a sculptor for example and there are a couple artists in my field of you know Allan Roth for example and lives in Oakland who does similar work as mine but the the presentation he’s better at so I’m coming from filmmaking photography it’s always been the image that interested in me and certainly in the beginning I would build cabinets to hide all of the technology not because I wanted it to be magic because it was kind of you’re relevant to the image that I was trying to work with or the mirrors in those cases and they so I gradually learned a little bit about sculpture but I’m still clumsy kind of at it so I always hide as much as I can to but don’t hide what needs to stay there to kind of make sense with the concept of what I’m doing in the case of the memory works it was very important to have the connection between this coffin of time or this memory connected to something and to see those wires usually I hide the wires and again it’s come out in the curtain pieces where you know where the the physical presentation of them becomes very important because you’re you’re looking at it kind of just to see the the image behind them and I’ve been accused of those being slick two-slit kind of thing in there so it’s interesting because it usually is a goal to not have any physicality present not not find the power wire and place it a certain way kind of thing just try to I’d it kind of thing yes the idea earlier about these one-liners being formulaic huh how do you view the sort of increasing availability and accessibility of a lot of these tools that for example like an LED array is now something you can order off the internet for like 15 bucks how does that affect sort of the directions you want to take your work and so the challenge is you want to try and like surmount when there’s so many other people who could easily kind of get these tools and find you have tried you kind of same sort of stuff nowadays it’s very good question that I don’t know if I have the answer I do I do think that it was really depressing when I showed the hallucination piece the one with the fire that would the very that I did in 1990 and you know the electronics for that was essentially this big that I had built it was like multiple circuit boards and I used a 1 megahertz PC to control it could barely control and let alone do it kind of thing and a student recently said well can’t do that with Macs and a you know in a portable Mac and yeah you can they say okay and so it kind of made me realize that I mean I’ve

always been aware that I’m lucky and I’ve been as successful as I am because I have the talent of being an engineer and that allowed me to do things among other things that were impossible to do any other way now they’re not so yeah it’s I’m not sure what else I can say other than that it makes me think about things where that question is irrelevant I guess doesn’t mean successfully but yeah comments comfortable but with what have you come to when you’re putting something like this together the Masters exploratory about these right I think one of the things that kind of has been getting better over time than in the beginning was very clumsy all right one of the problems with interactive work in the beginning was that they were it’s kind of the in a funny way it’s that it’s the Hollywood model of filmmaking in that you have to think about your audience and you have to think about their response and what it creates is kind of contrived a contrived result and usually that’s something that as far as I’m concerned is antithetical to what creating art is about and it was one of the issues that I had with doing an interactive work because I had to pre guess my audience I had to think about that and it’s not anything that I ever kind of came to terms with or figured out but I I think there are solutions it’s just I don’t think we’re there yet and that’s I guess one of the exciting things about what the person over there asked who’s gone now about the change from 1992 now as I do think their thing there there is finally because so much there’s so much energy being spent there’s finally progress being made and things that I didn’t think would maybe there would never be any progress in the direction of more intuitive interfaces I guess the tactic was right well but with regard to the diagram that I drew or whatever was or the animation that’s kind of the catch-22 of it is you could actually pick two of those just randomly and almost irregardless of it sorry regardless of how you would create that it could be beautiful so what does that mean I think what it means probably is that the notion for beauty might change with regard to that kind of work and knowledge and understanding but maybe not yes you know a little bit about power with the candle yeah I mentioned food grades that probably the audience isn’t always entirely aware you know how inductor custom hardware that you’re building is I think a lot of times arts analyze the hopes of processes are some wondering think you know it’s important to understand what when is that in order to treat it or is it really be you know just an experience of what it is that they’re seeing or feeling that matters to you I think it’s just an experience I think it’s it’s important that works like that work on different levels I mean if if I’m the only one who gets definitely a self-indulgent failure so I used to use when she was alive my mother as that who kind of was not very educated and certainly not very educated in the world of art and I would show her works and see if she felt anything or who could connect to anything and within it and and then maybe it would work on other levels also but I think it’s about working kind of being able to get deeper and deeper and deeper so even though for example the Buddha peace the peace with the Buddha in the cube when I first showed that the second time in New York at the opening was so crowded that it never cleared up it was just completely foggy the whole time and everyone thought that was the work and I was fine I mean it was kind of was okay kind of

thing so but it needed to work in that stated the shadow kind of in a way is what made it work otherwise there would have been two conceptual for my taste if it were just glowing cube kind of thing one more minute one more question come on a really hard one to really critically next working on public artwork in New York at a large-scale outdoor park inside a park temporary six-month where I’m taking see if I can describe it in one minute since you asked taking as imagine a big grid of lightbulbs just like the LEDs and then so twelve feet by 16 feet are actually this is gonna be sixteen feet by 40 feet and putting an image on it but then in the I don’t know what axis that would be but in the axis of how its viewed pull out pull each light bulb away from that kind of flat field of what the image is towards the viewer at the moment a random amount so that this image exists in space so if you saw it from infinity you wouldn’t be able to tell that was the case it would just be this image created on these light bulbs but the closer you get you realize that it has dimension to it and this kind of random thing yeah they’re moving the bulbs are not moving the image is moving kind of solid the the image becomes freedom it’s another way of making the image three-dimensional kind of thing I tested it in a gallery my gallery that was closed for a week and so he stole the space and it worked pretty well though I can only get about ten feet away from it so I have a simulator with my reconstruction filter but it’s pretty interesting you could you could see this image even though it was ten feet deep and kind of randomly moving in terms of the pixels was that clear enough in terms of okay good for more please visit us at stanford.edu