In much of her work in Catalyst, currently on display at Bullseye Gallery, Carrie Iverson turns to the very literal and qualitative imagery of science and mathematics. In "Systemic Series," a grouping of lithographs that stretches across multiple walls, she organizes prints of sonographs, scatter-plotted grids, and heart-rate readouts like a mason. Interspersed with images of unwound cassette tape and pages from telephone books, it becomes clear that Iverson is fixated on how we represent and record information. Put another way, this work seems vexed by the notion that an entity as abstract as "knowledge" can be translated into physical terms. It's fitting, then, that in her aestheticized treatment, these qualitative, inexpressive figures become visually lyrical, estranged from their intended significations.
Although much of the exhibition is devoted to lithographs, etchings, and even a lightbox sculpture, the best work in Catalyst is the titular series of kiln-formed glass tiles. Just shy of one square foot, the slightly misshapen tiles each bear a screen-printed image embedded in the glass. Their surfaces, at once foggily opaque and transparent, conjure a host of associations. The images could be objects covered in a thin pane of ice, or fossils fixed into some translucent rock. Conversely, they also call to mind technological methods of preservation, from microscope slides to grainy film stills. But while the imagery in "Systemic Series" teased some sort of discernible information, the glass works in "Catalyst" are intentionally obscure. Some of the objects are easily identified, including a collection of clothes pins or a fanning arrangement of fish hooks. But other shadowy forms remain unrecognizable, prodding viewers to interpret them as objects that they almost certainly are not. Iverson acknowledges this in her titling of the pieces, suggesting a tangle of looping thread could be the strings of a parachute, or that silhouetted, hooking forms are actually scythes. Here, she produces the show's most otherworldly imagery, while revealing its conceptual lynchpin. Although scientific analysis—the X-rays and graphs of "Systemic Series"—claims an absolute knowledge of the world around us, she reminds that knowledge is ultimately more near-sighted than that. We can observe and interpret, but, in the end, what we see is only what we think we see.