Mungo Thomson in New York, NY

I wish I hadn’t seen Mungo Thomson’s exhibition Time Life so close to the closing date, as I definitely would have gone back. Time Life is a series of seven short stop-motion videos from how-to-guides, production manuals, photo books and encyclopedias. The title is borrowed from the now defunct Time Life Books imprint. It’s riveting to watch.

Volume 7. Color Guide
There are seven volumes of short stop-motion videos

I was particularly fond of the knot tying in Volume 6.

Volume 6. The Working End

I hadn’t heard of Mungo Thomson, but I generally try to see the shows at Karma’s multiple East Village locations. After seeing the show, I looked to see what, if anything, had been written. The New York Times really hit it right, explaining why I didn’t sit and watch it a second time on my regrettably singular visit.

“Mungo Thomson’s “Time Life” at Karma is a thrilling accomplishment, adding a new chapter to the long conversation about photographs, mechanical reproduction and ways of seeing. It may not be for everyone, though: I watched all seven rapidly flashing videos, made with images scanned from vintage instructional manuals, catalogs and cookbooks, and I left the gallery feeling like I’d just ridden a high-speed roller coaster.

The premise of “Time Life” is simple: sifting through a vast, sometimes absurd archive of images and presenting them at breakneck speed. “Volume 2. Animal Locomotion” (2012-22) shows people demonstrating various forms of exercise, accompanied by a pulsing track by the electronic music pioneer Laurie Spiegel. “Volume 6. The Working End” (2021-22) features fingers tying knots and the percussion of the avant-garde composer Pauline Oliveros. The show’s opus might be “Volume 5. Sideways Thought” (2020-22), with an original score by Ernst Karel, which animates the expressive but inert bronze and marble sculptures of Auguste Rodin.” (New York Times)

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