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The Varieties Of Experience (2008) - Mungo Thomson

By John Michael Boling



Thomson’s 16mm film, The Varieties Of Experience, was made by using Nam Jun Paik’s Zen For Film (1962-64) as a negative. Zen for Film consists of a length of clear 16mm film leader projecting a rectangle of pure white. Over time, the celluloid collects dust from the space of its exhibition; this dust is projected as brown and black smudges on the otherwise white image. Dust is largely composed of human cells, and in this way the audience of Paik’s work has literally become embedded in it over several decades. Thomson worked with the NJP estate to procure a “dirty” copy of the film and to use it as a negative from which to make a new print. The new film is an inversion of the original: a black film with the dust printed as white specks and clouds -- a moving starscape, where the stars are composed of dust (and people) instead of the other way around.

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Steve 6 years, 8 months agoReply

This artwork is quite aptly named. It is a variety of Nam June Paik's original, making total sense. It is also interesting in light of the fact that it is a negative of a video, which I didn't know was even possible. The "Zen For Film" I had heard of, which was intriguing because the dust and particles broke up the white rectangle, creating a highly unique piece. Turning that into a negative and then projecting what looks like a starscape is a great idea. Knowing some of Paik's work and his processes, I think he would rather enjoy this as well.

Angela Edwards 6 years, 8 months agoReply

I had no idea that you could make a negative of a video, either. I also would never have thought of doing it. Not all talent is contained in the finished product; some of the talent is thinking it up in the first place, I would say.



Mina Shafiei 6 years, 8 months agoReply

Wow. Thank you so much for that… That was a very interesting read :P And Angela, I was surprised too…

Btw, Dust really IS mainly composed of human skin :)

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Russ 6 years, 7 months agoReply

I didnt know either that you can make a negative of a video, very cool.

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sam 6 years, 7 months agoReply

I had no idea that you could make a negative of a video, either. I also would never have thought of doing it.
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ali 6 years, 7 months agoReply

very interesting read .
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This is nice attitude, positive thinking

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Parvez 6 years, 7 months agoReply

This is nice attitude, positive thinking


rowenalee 6 years, 7 months agoReply

Paik has been given the title of “Father of Video Art,” as he was the first to use video and television as a viable medium.
Thomson was inspired by Paik works and this new inventions by Thomson will always been an inspiration of future artists.

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Edwin VanGorder 5 years, 3 months agoReply

The fact that dust (of interiors) is largely human skin helps explain why some Yogis can live off of air perhaps, it is a gentle cannablism as is the borrowing of Morandis dust by Thompson….

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