Titled Negative Space (STScI-2015-02), Mungo Thomson’s two murals for this subway platform evolved from a series of artworks in which he digitally inverts astronomical images from the Hubble Space Telescope’s online photographic archive. For this station, Thomson recontextualizes a stunning image of the Hubble’s 2015 composite photograph of the Andromeda (M31) galaxy on porcelain enamel steel panels. Consisting of 7,398 exposures, the panoramic Hubble image is the largest ever assembled. Thomson’s inverted portrayal of the tiled photographs—with saw-tooth edges reminiscent of traditional subway tile—is at once antithetical and befitting to its underground setting—a void in the earth as far from outer space as possible. Although it retains a sense of the cosmic, the speckled artwork conjures myriad associations, from dust, smoke and veined marble to physiological systems and oceanic microcosms.
“My work is broadly interested in backgrounds and in all the contextual information that we tune out and ignore but that nonetheless shapes perception.”
Online Conversation > Underground Astronomy: Art, Geology and Cosmology
In conjunction with the station artwork, Thomson facilitated a public conversation between a tunneling engineer and a Hubble telescope expert via Zoom on 07.19.2022 about the unlikely but real crossovers between geology and cosmology.
About the Artist
MUNGO THOMSON (b. 1969, Woodland, California) approaches mass culture and everyday perceptual experience through a lens of deep time and cosmic scale, implicating the spaces of production and exhibition along the way in ever-widening extrapolations. He has convened an orchestral ensemble to perform a score transcribed from the chirping of crickets, persuaded museums to let their incoming mail pile up unopened in the galleries for the run of an exhibition and replaced the coat-hangers in the Whitney Museum’s coat check with custom-made hangers modeled on orchestral triangles, transforming it into an enormous musical instrument. Mungo Thomson attended the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program in New York and earned a Master of Fine Arts from the University of California, Los Angeles. His work is held in the public collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museo Jumex, México City; FRAC Île-de-France, Paris; GAMeC, Bergamo, Italy; and BY ART MATTERS, Hangzhou, China, among others.