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