December 9, 2022 - April 2, 2023
Aspen Art Museum
Mungo Thomson, Volume 5. Sideways Thought, 2020-22. 4K video with sound. 8:09 min. Original Score by Ernst Karel
Mungo Thomson’s Sculptures is a meditation on the passage of time and ways of seeing through book images. The exhibition presents the artist’s stop-motion animation Sideways Thought (2020–22), laying out French sculptor Auguste Rodin’s (1840–1917) complete works as photographed and printed in art history monographs. The work is the fifth volume in Thomson’s Time Life (2014–22). This series culls imagery from encyclopedias, how-to guides, cookbooks, science books, and other printed material and arranges them at the high speed of a robotic book scanner. Sideways Thought presents image after image of Rodin’s sculptures in rapid tempo. These works are known for their physicality, exposing the human condition in all stages of passion and suffering.
The Rodin images in Sideways Thought span 150 years and range in scale from small thumbnails to full pages. The Rodin images are faded, grainy, and at times oversaturated. Presented alongside captions and fragmented texts and photographed from so many angles in Sideways Thought, they appear panoramic, and are made to revolve and flow together. Rodin’s western classical figures from history, literature, and religion whir by, and stills are turned into motion by Thomson’s technique. Digitizing this analog, arguably obsolete object—the book page—Thomson puts forth a new mode of indexing that foregrounds how we look at images today.
Where Rodin slows down, Thomson picks up the pace. Thomson tells the story of Rodin, albeit at a rhythm of eight frames per second, far too fast to actually absorb anything other than an agglomeration of Symbolist master Rodin’s oeuvre. In so doing, Thomson calls into question how we consume images, how we absorb information, and how our sense of time today has categorically shifted.
Thomson’s video is accompanied by an original musical score by Ernst Karel.