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Jim Campbell / MATRIX 208

Memory Array

September 21, 2003 - November 16, 2003

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Jim Campbell: Last Day in the Beginning of March (computer simulation, detail), 2003; light bulbs, custom electronics; dimensions variable; courtesy of the artist and Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco.

Download the exhibition brochure (PDF).

MATRIX artist Jim Campbell’s Memory Array dynamically maps a key aspect of human identity: how experiences of joy, pain, suffering, enlightenment, and compassion are indelibly coded into the brain. Memory is an essential aspect of human difference.

Memory Array is a fictional chronicle of events on the last day in the life of someone close to the artist. In this electronic installation that incorporates digital memory and light, lightbulbs suspended from the ceiling shine onto the floor below creating barely overlapping pools of light. Light becomes a signifier for memory, as changes in brightness metaphorically illuminate daily occurrences. Viewers are bathed in fluctuating rhythms of light that represent memories ranging from the blinking of the subject’s eyes over a two-hour period while watching a film to kissing someone goodbye. Computer technology, so often linked with “reality” and identified as truthful, is here employed to represent a fabrication.

Much of Campbell’s sculpture and installation work has been concerned with human memory, and with psychological and scientific relationships to time and movement. Originally trained in mathematics and engineering, the San Francisco-based artist employs technology in the service of a profound humanism. His early works explore simple analogies between human and computer memory, paralleling traits such as hiddenness and certain processes of representation.

Campbell’s works often record his family, though they remain for the most part unidentified, indicating the role private exploration plays in his artistic practice. A precursor to Campbell’s MATRIX exhibition was Memory Works, a series of twelve sculptures. In Portrait of My Father, a piece from Memory Works also included in the current exhibition, a photograph of the artist’s father fades in and out of clarity based on an EKG reading of Jim’s own heartbeat while he slept.

Following its installation in Berkeley, Jim Campbell/MATRIX 208 Memory Array will travel to SITE Santa Fe from March 27 to June 13, 2004, and subsequently tour as part of a jointly produced exhibition of new and recent work by the artist. A catalog will accompany the exhibition.

Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson
Phyllis Wattis MATRIX Curator


The MATRIX Program at the UC Berkeley Art Museum is made possible by the generous endowment gift of Phyllis C. Wattis.

Additional donors to the MATRIX Program include the UAM Council MATRIX Endowment, Ann M. Hatch, Eric McDougall, and Glenn and April Bucksbaum.

Funding for Jim Campbell/MATRIX 208 Memory Array has been provided by the Fleishhacker Foundation, Nancy and Joachim Bechtle, Maryellen and Frank Herringer, and Charles and Naomie Kremer.

Last Day in the Beginning of March was funded in part by the artist’s fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.