While King Tut may be the more popular transcender of death this summer at LACMA, Tim Hawkinson does it with much more pizzazz (and fewer long lines). More obsessed with the entropy of his body than Farrah Fawcett, Hawkinson seeks to understand the fleetingness of life by contorting his image in ways Michael Jackson only dreams of. In his signature piece (but not his Signature piece – we’ll get to that in a moment), Hawkinson covered his body in latex, carefully peeled it away, inflated it, and hung it from LACMA’s ceiling like some naked wraith looking down on the entire exhibit. As to not get lonely, an inflated chicken skin flutters nearby.

Hawkinson’s art lies somewhere between the work of a mad scientist and that of a fluxus virtuoso (still completely unreformed) – but wherever it is, the plane is one of genius. How someone would think of showing the imperishability of life by turning their toenail clippings into a minute bird skeleton, hair into a cracked egg or – look carefully in the corner – a cobweb, makes your mind giggle, but soul appreciate that the body, too, lives on after death.

The exhibition’s best exploration of time, however, is with, as supposedly should be expected, clocks – but unlike anything you’ve seen before. Ingenious in their simplicity, Hawkinson mutates a toothpaste tube, Coke can, manila envelope and hairbrush into clocks, the hands of which are made up of – look closely – the dried toothpaste crust, the can’s tab, the envelope’s brads and, most amazingly, two small pieces of the artist’s hair. Everything is an emblem of time ticking away.

Celebrating life, Hawkinson also reduces himself to a simple machine, in the kinetic sculpture Signature – a turntable on a school desk ceaselessly inscribes the artist’s own signature as a mountain of papers build up around it. I tried to sneak a blank check into the machine for Hawkinson to sign, but was told that’s not what the artist intended. I responded that the whole exhibit reeked of postmodernity, and we can’t ever be sure what the artist intended, but, no, security told me escorting me out, we indeed could.

LACMA is located at 5905 Wilshire Blvd., in Los Angeles. Museum hours: Mon, Tue, Thu noon-8 p.m., Fri noon-9 p.m., Sat and Sun 11 a.m.-8 p.m., closed Wed. Price: adults $9, students 18+ with ID $5, admission is free the second Tuesday of every month and evenings after 5 p.m. For more information, call (323) 857-6000 or visit www.lacma.org.