New Media Artist Takes Over Park
The installation is comprised of LED stepping stone-esque tablets
“Scattered Light,” new media artist Jim Campbell’s largest light installation to date, conveys the ways in which New Yorkers interact within their urban environment.
The display is divided into three distinctive parts of an sculptural whole: “Scattered Light,” “Broken Window” and “Voices in the Subway Station.”
“Scattered Light,” measuring 80 feet long, 20 feet high and 16 feet wide, is located in the center of Madison Square Park’s Oval Lawn. A large rectangle comprised of over 2,000 LED light bulbs, “Scattered Light” is timed carefully to depict a variety of moving silhouettes: businessmen and women holding briefcases, joggers, tourists — all of whom travel at distinctive paces. The structure calls to attention how people within the city move, placing emphasis on pace and character type: the businessman, the tourist, the street vendor — the everyday New Yorker.
“Broken Window,” a slightly smaller display located on the park’s west side (23rd Street and Fifth Avenue), compliments “Scattered Light” by depicting hazy images of people walking on the street. Comprised of LED bulbs, the bright display focuses on image and movement on a New York City sidewalk. Unlike “Scattered Light” however, “Broken Window” is a colorful, a foggy depiction of New York sidewalk life on any given afternoon.
Campbell’s final installation,“Voices in the Subway Station,” is located on the park’s east side (Madison Avenue and 24th Street). The installation is comprised of LED stepping stone-esque tablets set firmly in the lawn. At first glance, the tablets look like flowing water and seem to break the human movement-based form depicted by both “Broken Window” and “Scattered Light.” Here, Campbell changes from physical movement to a more abstract movement; one can’t see a voice, but it’s obviously there. It makes the viewer think further about what a voice is, how it evolves, how it can be visualized — it makes for something beautiful.
The exhibit in its entirety is best understood when you view it from several different angles. Campbell gradually switches his focus from physical movement to abstract movement — from walking to sound waves — and it’s crucial to examine all aspects of each individual exhibit thoroughly before moving on to the next piece.
Though you can’t physically touch (or even really approach) the exhibit, the distance does not interfere with your interpretation of the work. The work must be viewed as a collective whole, each installation treated with individual respect and admiration. The fact that the piece needs to be viewed collectively is where its brilliance lies. It’s not something to glance at quickly, nod at politely and leave unaffected. Campbell is talking to you, the New Yorker. He expects you to listen.