Sunday, 7 December 2014

Jim Campbell – Indirect Imaging

Dundee Contemporary Arts until January 25th 2014
Four stars

The light and a whole lot more besides pours out of the seven pieces in
Chicago-born LED auteur Jim Campbell's first ever UK solo show from the
moment you set foot into the DCA's foyer, where a digital clock behind
the reception desk displays the night and day of things rather than
time itself. If this is a precision-perfect image of a retro-future
relic, it's soporific fusion of low-lit high-tech isn't trying to be
cute, but comes fused with an intelligent and quietly personal poetry.

Outside Gallery 1, 'Motion and Rest 5' (2002) may at first glance
resemble a traffic sign, but is actually footage of a person walking on
crutches. Inside, similar optical effects are writ ever larger.
'Explode View (Commuters)' (2011), the self-explanatory 'Home Movies
1040-3' (2011) and 'A Fire, A Freeway and A Walk' (1999-2000) capture
bodies in rest and motion, en route to work, rest or play. 'Tilted
Plane' (2011) does something similar with birds in flight, albeit on a
grand scale as the viewer walks among a series of bulbs in
sensory-destabilising formations.

For all its meditative, multi-hued expanse, much of it feels like a
curtain-raising primer for the piece that takes up the whole of the
venue's Gallery 2 space. 'Last Day in the Beginning of March' (2003)
reflects on the final hours of Campbell's brother's life by tapping
into a series of imagined memories through twenty-six synchronised
bulbs beamed down from the ceiling. As each one pulses its circle of
light at different speeds, they reflect a moment, a feeling or an
anxiety immortalised on a series of name-plates lined around the dimmed
walls.

Out of the gloom comes a carefully choreographed set of sense memories
that become both homage and elegy to the piece's subject. Where it
would have been easy to go for chill-out room ambience, 'Last Day in
the Beginning of March' is noticeably the only installation to use
sound throughout. As the pools of lights dance, that their accompanying
noises off are those of the sort of relentless but curiously
undemonstrative rainfall one associates with deserted cities at dusk
speaks volumes about the way Campbell keeps his fires burning close to
home.

The List, December 2014


ends

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