Mungo Thomson

The Varieties of Experience, Mungo Thomson, 2008
16mm film, 8 minutes
Photo credit: Christina Ondrus
Exhibition location: 60-inch telescope dome
A “dirty” copy of Nam Jun Paik’s Zen For Film (1962-64) was obtained with the cooperation of the NJP estate and used to make a new, inverse print. Zen For Film consists of blank 16mm film leader going round on a looper; it projects a white rectangle. The film gathers dust from the spaces where it is exhibited. Dust is composed largely of exfoliated human cells, and human cells are composed of elemental matter from the Big Bang. The motes and specks of dust are captured and printed as imagery in The Varieties of Experience. The new film is an inversion of Paik’s, a black film with the dust printed white. The title collapses a pair of Gifford Lectures on Natural Theology delivered at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Glasgow in Scotland: “The Varieties of Religious Experience,” given by psychologist and philosopher William James in 1901 and 1902, in which he advocated the scientific study of religion, and “The Varieties of Scientific Experience,” given by astronomer Carl Sagan in 1985, in which he advocated the religious study of science.  – Mungo Thomson
Mungo Thomson is a Los Angeles-based artist whose work in diverse media explores cosmology, mass culture and reception. Thomson attended the Whitney Independent Study Program in New York and received an MFA from UCLA. Solo exhibitions include Hammer Projects: Mungo Thomson at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2008); Mungo Thomson: Between Projects at The Kadist Art Foundation, Paris (2007); and Mungo Thomson: Negative Space Variations at GAMeC, Bergamo, Italy (2006). Group exhibitions include The Pacific Standard Time Ball of Artists in Los Angeles (2012); Lifelike at Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2012); Silence at the Menil Collection, Houston (2012); Untitled (12th Istanbul Biennial) in Istanbul, Turkey (2011); Magical Consciousness at Arnolfini, Bristol, UK (2010); The Cinema Effect at Caixaforum, Madrid, Spain (2011); Exhibition, Exhibition at Castello di Rivoli, Torino, Italy (2010); Compilation IV at Kunsthalle Dusseldorf, Dusseldorf, Germany (2009); and the 2008 Whitney Biennial Exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2008). Thomson’s publications include Negative Space, published by JRP|Ringier (2006); Font Study (TIME), published by The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) (2011); and People, published by Los Angeles Nomadic Division (LAND) (2011). In 2012 JRP|Ringier will publish Thomson’s book Crickets.