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Contemporary Art Gallery

555 Nelson Street
Vancouver, Canada
Admission always free

Today's hours
12 pm - 6 pm
1 Oct 13until1 Jun 14

Mungo Thomson

Negative Space

Offsite at Yaletown-Roundhouse Station

A photographic mural in vinyl is installed on the windows of Yaletown-Roundhouse Station. Black dots scatter across a semi-translucent background of softly focussed yellows, blues and greens.

Mungo Thomson, installation view from Negative Space. Photo: SITE Photography.

As part of our contribution to Capture, Vancouver’s first annual city-wide photography festival, we present a new installation by American artist Mungo Thomson. Central to Thomson’s artistic proposition is that of context — be it institutional, cultural or that of everyday life — and it is through the breadth of his individual works that we are prompted to grasp the many challenges to our perception in the things we encounter daily. For Thomson is interested in the space between things, the subtext or background that consistently draws our attention. He has made works which record notional “silence” — the sound of a room when no one is in it, the applause between songs on every live recording by Bob Dylan — produced works in a range of media based on TIME magazine, and made interventions into spaces which causing us to re-evaluate our expectations, such as Coat Check Chimes, his contribution to the 2008 Whitney Biennial Exhibition, where Thomson replaced the 1,200 coat hangers in the Whitney Museum’s coat check with custom-made, musically tuned coat hangers that were modeled on orchestral triangles.

When we look at the stars we are actually bathed in the light of the past, and for Thomson this is another way to think about the history while simultaneously considering the “contemporary” — that which constitutes our present is a set of signals between which there are gaps. Negative Space is an ongoing series of photographic murals of inverted astronomical imagery sourced from the Hubble Space Telescope. Thomson works with the Hubble archive in an ongoing way, generating a negative image every time the Hubble generates a positive one. Through a simple command in Photoshop, blacks become whites, whites become blacks, and all other colors are transformed into their complement. These images are then made into site-specific photographic murals for empty walls and installed like wallpaper, indoors and out, temporary and permanent. The project also includes an artist book, an original font, and a screensaver.

Work at Yaletown-Roundhouse Station is presented in partnership with Capture and the Canada Line Public Art Program – InTransit BC.


Mungo Thomson lives and works in Los Angeles. Solo exhibitions and projects include SITE Santa Fe (2013); Times Museum, Guangzhou, China (2013); Aspen Art Museum (2012); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2008); Kadist Art Foundation, Paris (2007); and Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea (GAMeC), Bergamo, Italy (2006), among others. His work has been included in group exhibitions such as The Pacific Standard Time Public Art and Performance Festival (2012); the 12th Istanbul Biennial (2011); Kunsthalle Düsseldorf (2009); the 2008 Whitney Biennial; and Performa, New York (2005). Thomson’s work is held in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, among others. Thomson is represented by Galerie Frank Elbaz, Paris.