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Campbell, John

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Digital access to this material is pending artist's approval. Materials may be viewed onsite at the Goldsen Archive, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Kroch Library, Cornell University.

My work over the last 7 years has been a progressing exploration into how digital representations of information can connect to poetic meaning. Initially my interests had to do with looking at how the relationship between information and meaning was(is) changing in our technologically mediated culture. The question was: Information can be digitized, can meaning? In 2000 I started a series of works called Ambiguous Icons that started with the question "How and what kinds of meaning can be expressed with extremely small amounts of information?" Information referring specifically to information in the mathematical sense, while meaning here embodies its definition in the poetic sense. The oxymoron title of this series, "Ambiguous Icons", indicates the fundamental difference between information and meaning, namely that poetic meaning is ambiguous (or plural) and mathematical information is precise (or singular). The moving images in these works have been reduced informationally (datawise) to be right at the threshold of comprehensibility. For these works I have designed and built my own very low resolution display devices using LEDs in panels ranging from 32 pixels to 768 pixels. In this series, in the beginning, I was interested not only in what could maintained in the transformation of a representation to low information (or resolution), but also in what was lost in this reductive process.

 
 
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