Peter Campus is a seminal figure in video art. In a career that includes installations and photography, Campus' video work is distinctive in its theoretical and formal significance. In videotapes produced from 1971 to 1976, Campus mapped the technical and symbolic parameters of the emergent medium as metaphors for the psychology of the self. This rigorous investigation was undertaken as a systematic exploration of video's essential properties and formal foundations.
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.