Video Programs


Born in 1937, Peter Campus studied experimental psycholo-
gy at Ohio State College and film at the City College of New York. His early tapes explore the anatomy of the video signal in relation to human psychology and perception. "The video camera makes possible an exterior point of view simultaneous with one's own. This advance over the film camera is due to the vidicon tube, similar to the retina of the eye, continually transposing light (photon) energy into electrical energy... It is easy to utilize video to clarify perceptual situations because it separates the eye-surrogate from the eye-brain experience we are all too familiar with."
Campus was one of a group of artists in the mid-70s who produced work in the experimental TV labs at WGBH in Boston and WNET in New York. In addition to numerous single-channel works, he has investigated the characteristics of "live" video through closed-circuit video installations and elaborate sculptural works whose structural components included video cameras, projectors, and monitors.
(From Video Data Base)

Three transitions, 4:53, 1973

Three Transitions is one of the seminal works in video. In three short exercises, Campus uses basic techniques of video technology and his own image to create succinct, almost philosophical metaphors for the psychology of the self. In these concise performances, he employs video's inherent properties as a metaphorical vehicle for articulating transformations of internal and external selves, illusion and reality. In the first "transition," Campus records with two cameras simultaneously on either side of a sheet of paper to achieve a breathtaking visual illusion: he appears to stab himself in the back, climb through the rupture in his body, and emerge whole on the other side. In the second exercise, Campus uses the effect of chroma-key to achieve a potent metaphorical effect. He wipes his face with his hand and, in doing so, "erases" its surface — only to reveal another image of his face underneath. Finally, in a dynamic conclusion, he appears to burn the living image of his face (as if it were a photograph), leaving only blackness.
In each episode, Campus displaces an image of himself and eventually eradicates it. He writes that these works "deal with duality in an ironic way, also with the video space made with this technological tool. The question of self is important, as the performer tries to expose the illusions the artist has set up." The tape's precise formalism and simplicity of execution advance the psychological wit and symbolic content. The first of Campus' works to be produced at WGBH-TV in Boston, Three Transitions is a remarkably powerful articulation of video technology as a metaphorical vehicle.
(From Electronic Arts Intermix)