I wanted to write a review of Jim Campbell’s Indirect Imaging. But the show actually ended up feeling quite personal. ” I enjoyed it.”, was the simple sentence I relayed to my peers. Some pointed out a few criticisms. “Yeah,” I did agree, “but, I enjoyed it”.
Art criticism today is stylistically flattering. But I had hoped to be a little objective, a little critical.
I enjoyed it though. I hadn’t been in a gallery for over a month, or a city for three weeks, so there are contributing conditions. I mean, I don’t easily remember the last time I walked into an exhibition and my face lit up, (for real, Campbell’s work is LED sculptural installation).
So I guess I’ll just describe it. And see how much use that is.
You have to understand that I practically skipped to the DCA. I don’t think anyone likes to proclaim they are a city-person, and I am thoroughly enjoying my time in Huntly, on internship with Deveron Arts. But having come from Edinburgh to a small town in Aberdeenshire and remained there for an uninterrupted three weeks, I was craving the slabs. And a weekend in Dundee was just fine.
I did smile when I walked into Gallery 1 and was confronted by A Fire, A Freeway and A Walk. However, I read the accompanying blurb a couple of days after I’d visited the exhibition. I hadn’t acknowledged the titling or read that the colours around the small black velvet rectangle were enabling the projection of these three recorded concepts. My viewing of Indirect Imaging was relaxed and perhaps more immersive than I usually allow. Last Day in the Beginning of March was the only piece in the show that I felt compelled to investigate the concept. And this was not so much a compelling draw, as the fact that the DCA had printed information for this piece on adjacent wall. And still, I think I felt, more than thought. The rainy soundtrack and darkened room with spots of lighting took me back to theme parks in America. The recreation of muggy rainforests in constructed sets has an artificial and yet comforting vibe. Something about this piece was reminiscent. I was aware of the concept and the melancholy nature of this piece, but the room was calming.
Exploded View (Commuters) and Home Movies 1040-3 were pieces that I continuously returned to during my half an hour+ in the gallery. Perceiving them from different angles revealed hidden features and a particular quality of Campbell’s work is the alterations created by movement when viewing. I also felt that the number and noise of people in the room altered them. The footage used in these pieces was more decipherable to me than the rest. Having read up on the exhibition since visiting, I understand that Campbell’s LED structures project a very lo-fi image that the viewer can just register as figurative. Which doesn’t really seem so ‘Indirect’.
The title doesn’t mean much to me, I must say. And I am fond of titles. Tilted Plane (pictured) as a title makes perfect sense to me however, and this was my favourite piece.
Because it felt weird, more than anything, when I first approached it.
It was disorientating and over a ten minute period, I went from marvelled, to feeling a bit sick, to understanding and then a little disappointed that the illusion was gone. There is a definite illusion of depth created by the darkened space and gradually reducing-in-height rows of lightbulbs. I walked very deliberately into this work and took a while to trust it. After sussing it, I walked around and amongst the rows, basking in the star-like dots of light and studying the bulbs more than I’ve studied a light bulb before. This is a bold statement, considering I recently wrote a 5000 word essay on light switches.
Again, I later read there was projections of birds in this Tilted Plane. I was too busy having feelings. As I say, I enjoyed it. This seems a fitting sum-up.