Photo credit: Windell H. Oskay,
on creative engineering and new media art

Illuminated Averages #1: Hitchcock’s Psycho (2000)

February 23rd, 2009

Lightbox with Duratrans print by Jim Campbell


In his series of “illuminated averages”, artist Jim Campbell creates averages of video sequences. Of course (well, I assume)  he makes these using some sort of software, not by hand, but they also refer back to that point in time where artists – painters – started exploring the passage of time and capture it on a piece of canvas.


Giacomo Balla: Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash (1912)

Some of Campbell’s images are even titled “dynamisms”, reappropriating the term used by artists like Luigo Russolo and Giacomo Balla, at the beginning of the 20th century. In this particular piece, Campbell created an image of the average of the entire Hitchcock movie Psycho, something that can hardly be anything than a wink to Douglas Gordon‘s classic video work 24 Hour Psycho which shows the entire Psycho in slow motion so that it lasts 24 hours.

In terms of new media works, this piece is something that I would, by definition – my own definition – not call new media art, since the piece is a still image, shown on a lightbox. I would typically say that new media art is art that incorporates new media in the piece itself, so that they are somehow dynamic, autonomous, responsive, ergodic or full-out interactive at the time you experience the piece. It is not enough to use “new media” in the production of a piece. Something you make in photoshop does not normally constitute new media art. I could go on to argue that you have to do a media-specific analysis, and focus on the piece, not the experience; if you talk about an interactive piece, the interactivity lies in the piece, not in the experience.

Maybe I need to rethink my definitions, because I really like pretty much everything Jim Campbell does, and I would definitely say he’s a new media artist, and I don’t see that these pieces are all that different from his other works.

All that from a piece of blur on a lightbox.