Jeff Gibson: Sarsaparilla to Sorcery
Text by Jeffrey Kastner.
In Sarsaparilla to Sorcery, artist and critic Jeff Gibson pairs open-ended, abstract photographic images with pages torn from encyclopedias from the 1950s, 60s and 70s. The abstract images--shot with a macro lens, but otherwise unmanipulated--depict various light sources and textured surfaces distorted by colored gels. Though none of the elements are recognizable, the images are highly allusive. By contrast, the appropriated pages present groupings of natural and cultural material and phenomena, whose meanings are comparatively fixed by virtue of their taxonomic organization. With each of the juxtapositions, there is a formal correspondence--in terms of color, composition and/or texture--that sparks a process of mutual inflection: The abstract images take on curiously representational qualities in relation to the adjacent encyclopedia images, while the specificity of the encyclopedia images is somewhat undone by their visual correlation with the abstract images. The spreads therefore serve as cues to interpretation and its dissolution, bridging the book's polarized registers of fixity and fluidity. This book is also intended to serve as homage to abstraction's debt to scientific discovery, in particular to the revelations supplied by micro- and macroscopic technologies, photographic processes and clinical psychology.