One of the pioneering figures in new media, Campbell examines the ways in which digital technologies permeate every aspect of our lives, transforming the nature of perception and subjective experience. His art combines an expert understanding of these technologies from his education in mathematics and electrical engineering at M.I.T. in the late 1970s with a keen historical awareness of its relationship to earlier visual media, particularly photography and film.
For his series Motion and Rest the artist took as his inspiration the stop-motion photographs of Eadweard Muybridge from the 1880s-works that furthered scientific understanding of the human body and, by extension, paved the way for the rote techniques of assembly-line production developed simultaneously by industrial engineer Frederick Taylor. Campbell's updated versions are wall-mounted black panels composed of hundreds of tiny lights (actually light-emitting diodes, or LEDs) through which he feeds footage of walking figures whose outlines are composed of the negative space left by the undulating ripples of light. This high-tech use of a black-and-white dot matrix contains the memory of an earlier visual technology, again from the 1880s-the halftone method of photographic reproduction in which many of Muybridge's motion studies first appeared. Unlike Muybridge's well-built, agile human specimens, Campbell's subjects hobble and lurch before stopping to rest and catch their breath-the result of various disabilities such as limps or severe arthritis-enacting an implicit, ironic rebuke to blind faith in technology's mythic link to progress and human fulfillment.