Jim Campbell

American (Chicago, Illinois, 1956)

Digital Watch

video installation | closed-circuit video projection, two video cameras, custom electronics, and watch
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  • Digital Watch

    Jim Campbell, Digital Watch, 1991; closed-circuit video projection, two video cameras, custom electronics, and watch, dimensions variable; Collection SFMOMA, Purchase through a gift of Doris and Donald Fisher; © Jim Campbell

Digital Watch uses video, electronics, and a watch to explore how communications media influence our perception of time.

Two video cameras are positioned within a gallery: one is trained on an analog pocket watch on display, while the other records visitors' behavior in the space. The two continuous feeds are fused electronically into a single, beguiling video presented on a large monitor. The round face of the watch occupies most of the rectangular field, while moving images of the visitors fill the marginal spaces around it.

Meanwhile, the use of a digital frame delay in tandem with the real-time video creates a series of still images of the visitors, which pass through a five-second delay before they momentarily appear in the circular field of the watch's dial. The pacing of the flickering still images is synchronized with the ticking of the watch's second hand. The juxtaposition underscores the cognitive dissonance between the retrievable, non-linear nature of digital time and the relentless forward motion of its analog counterpart.

Dimensions variable
Acquired 1991
Collection SFMOMA
Purchase through a gift of Doris and Donald Fisher
© Jim Campbell


cameras, pocket watches, live feed, time, technology

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