Jennifer Steinkamp is an American installation artist who works with video and new media in order to explore ideas about architectural space, motion, and perception.
In 1979, Steinkamp moved to Los Angeles to attend Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, studying with Mike Kelley, Gene Youngblood, and Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe. She then transferred to the California Institute of the Arts, where she studied experimental animation. Steinkamp returned to Art Center to earn her BFA in 1989 and her MFA in 1991. In 2011, Art Center recognized Steinkamp with an Honorary Doctorate. She is currently a professor in the department of Design Media Arts at UCLA.
Steinkamp uses digital projection to transform architectural space, providing the viewer with a synaesthetic experience, often working in collaboration with musicians Jimmy Johnson and Andrew Bucksbarg to integrate sound into her work. While her career began with brightly colored abstract projections, since 2003 she has increasingly incorporated nature-based imagery into her work — gnarled trees that twist, turn, and change seasons; rooms filled with undulating strands of flowers. In doing so she has brought digital art into the mainstream of contemporary art. Her use of vernacular imagery and embrace of beauty result in environments that reference the sublime, as did the Hudson River School painters. Like her art historical precedents, Steinkamp conveys the magnitude and power of nature—a nature that is not always benign. Premature, a series first displayed in 2010, shifts the focus of Steinkamp’s subject to life and death. She explores this topic with projections of slithering veins and arteries that evoke the eerie inspiration of her work. Her work has the power to communicate to a broader public, to “convert” a more traditional art audience, familiar with the use of computer graphics for video games but unaware of other creative applications.
In 2008, Steinkamp was selected as the United States representative in the 11th International Cairo Biennale. In 2009, she was commissioned to make Hollywood and Vine, a permanent outdoor installation in Hollywood, California. The Valentino 2010 Spring/Summer couture show featured projections of Steinkamp’s trees against the walls of the runway. In 2011, Jennifer Steinkamp exhibited at Prospect. 2 New Orleans, the second biennial of Prospect New Orleans curated by Dan Cameron. Stephanie Hanor and Lucia Sanromán also curated a solo show of her work at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego the same year. In 2013, Steinkamp projected her work 6EQUJ5 on the central dome of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her work was also installed at the American Consulate in Guangzhou, China as part of Art in Embassies, curated by Virginia L.Shore.