Edge Conditions


For their installation Light from Tomorrow, UK artists Jon Thomson and Alison Craighead have installed light sensors in the Kingdom of Tonga, which is situated just across the international date line. Tonga is about 20 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time (PST), the time zone that California is in. The sensors stream the information about the distant brightness to a light box at the exhibition space, providing the visitors with a “visceral sense of the distant places to which the internet connects us”. It also brings up some interesting questions about the notion of time zones and simultaneity of the world. Or does this light come from the future after all? The sensors will apparently be moved to New Zealand soon.


Well-known artist Jim Campbell is actually showing two pieces, one of which is the quite amazing “Wave Modulation”. Being a part of his “ambiguous icons”-series, the work is exploring the “edge-condition between legibility and abstraction”. What you see from the front is a blurry black-and-white image of a wave crashing probably at the shore of an ocean. During the course of 20 minutes, the image gradually changes from a moving image to a still one, playing on the notion of still time as the time of nature. What was actually more fascinating to me was the fact of how the image is being created: It’s basically a matrix of white LEDs sitting behind a piece of frosted acrylic. The individual LEDs are rather far apart, so without the acrylic one would probably just see isolated flickering lights. Seeing it through the acrylic though, which should actually be obscuring the image due to its blurryness, the low resolution image transforms into an even lower-resolution image that we can actually perceive and which even takes on the strange materiality of an old photographic or film print. Perception through double abstraction.

Also on display at the San Jose Museum of Art are Ingo Günther‘s famous globes, a project called “Simveillance” about which Régine will write more in a second, and Jennifer Steinkamp’s delicious colorful projections.