Artist features

Gibson + Recoder

Gibson + Recoder have always walked a high-risk high-reward tightrope throughout their career as they plumbed the raw materials of cinema–projector, film, light, electricity–to create elastic and challenging works and installations.

Text Brice Brown All images Courtesy by the artists

Recently, they have focused their interest in discarded, obsolete, and/or forgotten cinematic media on the cast-offs from the dawn of late 1970’s home theater–the VHS cassette. They approach this once ubiquitous object with the cold eye of the amateur scientist, cracking open the cassette to sleuth out the secret inner life it might contain. And the result is an array of metaphorically rich, poetically charged, intellectually rigorous, and visually compelling drawings, collages, and both static and kinetic sculptures.

What is actually inside a VHS cassette is fairly banal stuff: an iron oxide-coated magnetic Mylar tape tightly wound around two plastic spools and various other plastic parts. Utterly disposable. Focusing their attention on the Mylar tape, Gibson + Recoder poke and prod this moribund material like alchemists to see if it can be revivified and transformed into something beyond itself. Once freed from its existence as mere cog in a machine–as a medium for transporting and disseminating information–what surprising new energies, narratives, and riddles does this tape contain?

Gibson + Recoder’s approach to their newfound material runs the gamut from sensual–almost loving–to clinical, while welcome touches of humor and absurdity provide entry points into their conceptual enigmas. The tension between old source material and reimagined artwork is palpable and bracing.

out now

Tique | publication on contemporary art #3: Six Questions