Peter Campus: 1970s – video installations and tapes

Campus achieved rapid acclaim for a series of seminal video works that explored issues of identity/reality and subversion of the relationship between the viewer and the work. In his early period, Campus made both single channel video tape works and interactive closed-circuit television installations. Campus’ first video tape Dynamic Field Series (1971), used a camera suspended far above the artist as he manipulated its movements with ropes while lying down beneath it. In Double Vision (1971), Campus used two cameras and superimposition, marking the beginnings of a more formal experimentation with the medium itself, a characteristic that recurs in his work to this day. These first works also show Campus’ developing interest into the questioning of reality.

His critically acclaimed interactive closed circuit television works include Kiva (1971), Interface (1972), Stasis (1973), Shadow Projection and Negative Crossing (1974), mem and dor (1975), Mask Projections, lus and num (1976) and aen (1977). In A History of Video Art, Chris Meigh Andrews describes these as works that sought to “deliberately confront the viewer with a self-image that defied or challenged normal expectations. In an important sense, these works were participatory and sculptural in that they invited or even required audience participation.”. They employed a wide variety of installation formats, which included the use of close-circuit live feedback television, projection, mirroring, image distortion and shadow projection. Campus’ interactive works have received significant critical attention and a wide range of different critical interpretations. These perspectives include discussion of the complex issues of body identity, reality and virtuality, self-transformation, presence and absence, the relationship of the viewer to the work of art which he/she completes, passivity and activity in the viewer, existentialism, the uncanny and narcissism.

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