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Inside the Artists' Studio: Jim Campbell, the Engineer

“I work with little lights to create abstract images that exist right on the borderline of perception,” says former engineer and filmmaker Jim Campbell, who describes his work as lying somewhere between sculptural and cinematic with a heavy dose of technology.

Amid the organized jumble of lights, mechanical pieces, and assistants in the new-media arts pioneer’s Dogpatch studio sits a section of Blue Path, the 500-foot-long installation that will run the length of an entire concourse at the San Diego International Airport next year. Composed of 33,000 tiny LED lights affixed to wire, the undulating ribbon will be his largest public art piece to date.

Campbell, who contributed a major installation, Exploded Views, to SFMOMA this year and collaborated on stage design for the fall season of Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet says he is uniquely positioned in San Francisco.

“I’m lucky because I’m an engineer connected to Silicon Valley and the resources there,” he says. “The Bay Area is a neat place to make electronic art.” 

This article was published in 7x7's November issue. Click here to subscribe.