The book’s second section, Map of Babylon, is printed from the back of the book, upside down, a sly reference to the American-centric vision of the Orient being upside down. You turn it around to see these pictures, re-orienting your perspective — a neat trick that would be impossible on an iPad. This book’s subtitle serves as a pithy description of the artist’s aesthetic: “Photos with qualities, but no real explanations.” Its first image is a security peephole; through this aperture the world beyond Washington opens up, and while there are some images that make surface sense as photographic subjects — a presumably prosthetic hand provocatively left on a car’s dashboard, a tourist’s windshield-view of an unnamed Chinese city — there are many more images with no real explanations, and more intriguing because of it. The Gossage look seems random but is difficult to imitate, and such a singularity of vision can be seen from his classic The Pond, about which I interviewed Gossage for the Washington blog DCist, last fall, and now, 30 years later, this handsome pair.
A dedication in the rear of the book is made to “Art Tatum or W.J.E., whichever comes first.” That Gossage dedicates this book to a jazz pianist and one of his photographic contemporaries, William J. Eggleston, is typical of his improvisatory, exploring eye.