Peter Campus was born in 1937 in New York, USA. He studied experimental psychology at Ohio State University, Columbus, where he received a bachelor's degree in 1960. He went on to study film at the City College of New York. He then worked in the film industry, producing documentaries until the late 1960s. From 1970 he produced his first own video works and from 1972 video installations, some of them staged as closed-circuit. Three Transitions (1973) is one of his best-known short films. In parallel, Campus experimented with Polaroid instant cameras, and later with large-format cameras and the medium of photography.
In 1982 Campus took a teaching position at the Rhode Island School of Design and in 1983 was appointed to a professorship at New York University. From 1992 to 1993, he taught at the Staatliche Hochschule für Gestaltung in Karlsruhe, Germany.
From 1983 to 2014, Campus was Clinical Associate Professor of Art and Art Education and Artist in Residence at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development.
In 2017, Jeu de Paume in Paris presented a large-scale retrospective of his work, which was taken over by Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo in Seville, Spain, Fundação Caixa Geral de Depósitos - Culturgest in Lisbon, Portugal (2018), The Bronx Museum of the Arts in Bronx, NY (2019) and Hanes Art Gallery at Wake Forest University, SECCA, and Reynolda House Museum of American Art in Winston-Salem, NC (2019). Peter Campus lives and works in Patchogue on Long Island.