David Wilson was born in Detroit, Michigan and grew up in Denver, Colorado. He started making 16mm films while attending Kalamazoo College in Michigan, and went on to earn an MFA in Experimental Animation from CalArts in 1976. His films from the 1970s and 80s explore the act of perception and qualities inherent to the medium of film, often using the optical printer as a creative tool.
Wilson co-founded Independent Film Oasis, a screening series for avant-garde film, with a group of Los Angeles area filmmakers in 1977. In 1984, he shifted his focus from film to the installations that would form the Museum of Jurassic Technology, which he co-founded as a permanent museum in Culver City in 1988 with his wife, Diana Wilson. The museum was the subject of a 1995 book, MR. WILSON'S CABINET OF WONDER, by Lawrence Weschler. David Wilson was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2001. His recent films, which can be seen at the Museum of Jurassic Technology, utilize High-Definition and 3D video.