Jim Campbell

Yesterday Kelly and I went to see the Jim Campbell exhibit at the Hosfelt Gallery. It was pretty cool.

There were some photos which were digitally composted images of the protests in New York for the Republican Convention. Those were kind of lame.

Jim Campbell sort of invented his own genre- In most of the remaining works, a grid of LEDs is mounted on a custom board. A frosted glass pane is mounted in front of them- the LEDs are a uniform, soft glow behind it. BUT the LED intensities change individually- forming a very blurry television image. It reminded me a lot of the kind of image you get from a televisor.

Ironically, the one Kelly liked the best was something in the back, which was just a few blue LEDs. It didn’t show a picture, just a random wave. I told her you could buy something like it at Target. She didn’t seem to care.

So, for fun, last night I worked out a simple mostly-digital implementation of the LEDs. My first version uses no processor, only ROMs, multiplexors, counters, a clock, latches, and a digital-to-analog converter. And a bunch of LEDs with transistors. Missing- the actual art part. The images you put into the ROMs.

My question is- how did he get the values for the images? Did he take every frame, reduce it to the given (very few) pixels, and then measure the intensity? Does he have a software tool he wrote to reduce video images to the new ultra-low-resolution format?

He probably didn’t do it “by hand,” since the wave movie takes at least three minutes to loop! At around 700 LEDs per frame, probably 24 frames a second, and 3 minutes = 180 seconds for the piece… that would be a lot of sampling!

Too bad I don’t know anything about image processing. Maybe there’s something in Java that could do that easily- group a big square of pixels, then find the average value of all of them. Yet another project I’ll never get around to doing. You’re safe this time, Campbell!

The works we saw included:

  • Library
  • (something like Library but with a street)
  • Wave Modulation
  • Reconstruction #1
  • Running, Falling
  • a still piece made with tones and a microphone- the tones play one at a time, and the pitch seems to indicate the intensity of the LED- the LED grid lights up, adding one light at a time. the LEDs make a face.


The project is seeking couples who want to donate their bone cells – a couple having their wisdom teeth removed would be ideal. Their cells will be prepared and seeded onto a bioactive scaffold. This pioneering material encourages the cells to divide and grow rapidly in a laboratory environment, so that the scaffold disappears and is replaced by living bone tissue.

Web link of note: BioJewelry
(At http://www.biojewelry.co.uk/)

GIPF project

Anthony was playing “YINSH” today… it’s one in a series of abstract strategy games.

I think ZERTZ looks interesting, but apparently it’s been mostly “solved” – it has been played so much that hard-core gamers have figured out there are certain moves which will guarantee a loss.
Web link of note: GIPF project
(At http://www.gipf.com/)


Nice site- I like the sushi beads.

Incidentally it’s sort of a pet peeve of mine that things get labeled “ASIAN” but in this instance it seems pretty necessary – Sushi is Japanese, Fortune cookies are Chinese. But for that matter, fortune cookies are actually Chinese-American, not Chinese.

Ah well.
Web link of note: AmyVille
(At http://www.amyville.com/)


The home of online campaigns to ensure that companies play it fair, our press is truly free, and our politicians work genuinely in the public interest.

StartChange.org is the successor to the StopSinclair Campaign. StopSinclair was a grassroots online and offline effort to prevent a conservative media company from running the equivalent of an hour-long attack ad on behalf of George W. Bush in October 2004. During the StopSinclair Campaign, 152,407 signed the online petition, 3595 people pitched in money to pay for targeted print and TV ads in Ohio and Nevada, and hundreds more came to rallies. Together, we Stopped Sinclair.

Web link of note: StartChange
(At http://startchange.org/)

SF Treasure Hunts

Teams of 4 to 6 players collaboratively solve a series of puzzles, riddles and mini-mysteries, each leading to an exciting mystery location – a historical plaque, a hidden view, an architectural delight – that few tourists ever see. The team that solves the most clues and plans their route around the playing area most strategically wins the hunt.

Web link of note: SF Treasure Hunts
(At http://www.sftreasurehunts.com/)