Countertypes by Jeff Gibson is on view now at the Griffith University Art Museum (GUAM) in Brisbane until 27 August. For many years Gibson has been based in New York, as artist and also managing editor at Artforum magazine. Before this life of international art engagement and influence he was a youth in Australia coming of age in the punk and new wave eras in Brisbane and Toowoomba. This upbringing formed an early appreciation for ‘image-based’ communication, art and the complex ways images are and can be used to convey a message through symbolism, juxtaposition, and appropriation.
As a young man he saw the stupefying, but also magnetic, potential of television and now has an eye for a similar feedback loop which plays out on social media. As such his exhibition will comprise videos and other works, ranging from video projections made in Australia in the 1980s and 90s as well as pieces when he made the shift to the United States of America to today’s output. The gallery adds;
Gibson is a leading exponent of digital image-based art that incorporates and analyses mass-media imagery, elevating appropriation, quotation, excerptation, juxtaposition and staging as crucial artistic strategies. Such treatments have their roots in postmodern ‘Pictures’ art, but they remain integral today for any artist interested in examining the influence of social media and the World Wide Web.
While his compositions of images may seem didactic, and are often interrelated, the artist would like us to come to our own conclusions. As he said to Andrew Stephens for Art Guide, ‘I have always favoured an attitudinal poetics that leaves space for the viewer’s/ reader’s absorption. I’d rather facilitate realisation via seductive friction than preach or lecture.’
This is a milestone exhibition for Gibson with more than 40 years of work on show across the three galleries at GUAM. The proliferation and obsession with image may seem like a new condition but the artist offers a window to its long history and also prompts us to consider our relationship with contemporary digital culture.