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Sphere – Sapphire Goss

Watch our short film about the SPHERE project

Introduction – Tracy Mikich

Sandown is a town of startling and stunning contrasts. Spectacular chalk cliffs rise out of the water and anchored boats appear to float in the sky. Derelict hotels lay strewn along the seafront like washed-up stars with only glittering memories for comfort. Sandown has fallen down but many hands and minds are coaxing her to stand again. Sometimes it takes fresh eyes to help us see our world anew and artist Sapphire Goss’s residency, Sphere, has done just that. Sapphire’s extraordinary images captured using antique cameras show us the beauty of fleeting moments and express feelings that we find difficult to put into words – why we love being here, why perhaps Sandown or the Island, is our spiritual home.

“In 2019 the IOW was declared a UNESCO Biosphere reserve – an area of outstanding natural beauty where the ecosystem and the people who live alongside it are in harmony. In SPHERE I wanted to look at the often overlooked patterns, structures and complexities that make up the natural world, and our place entwined within it. I explored the landscape of Sandown Bay through different scales of time: from the fleeting to the ancient – the deep time of the night sky, geological layers, human history, natural cycles of seasons, growth and decay, to droplets captured mid-air for a moment then gone.

My work is about that moment when you look at a reflection on the surface then it shatters and dissolves in shimmering points of light to reveal the depths of other worlds underneath, they’re all our own world, but seen through different lenses or filters.

The images use rhythm and repetition – through stereographic suspended movement or short zoetrope-style motion sequences – to play with time in different ways. I used antique analogue cameras. Bob Shaw has this concept of ’Slow Glass’ – that the light passing through holds memories, I think these cameras do too, ‘eyes’ filtering light through time.” 

I think I’m trying to tell stories about things I don’t have words for – the flickering at the edge of your senses, an indescribable feeling, the nebulous, the uncanny, things just out of reach, things you sense and feel and experience. If something makes me feel deeply, the hope is that others will connect with it too and the work will ripple out into new forms. 

I also used filters made from real plants and waste materials when photographing and scanning, and ones from sea water. It is as if nature is telling its own story in layers of time and decay.

I use stereoscopic and early animation techniques (Eadweard Muybridge for example). They’re taken on different toy cameras and adapters, some work like a stereograph, freezing a moment and dancing around it in 3D space, the others do short sequential images over a few seconds, a kind of beggar’s or microcinema on 35mm.

Stereoscopy predates photography and it links the virtual and the physical. It recreates lifelike 3D using mechanical processes to shape light into something solid, tactile and tangible. Stereoscope literally means seeing solid or solid vision – it mimics our eyes and the reality of our perception: not linear and flat but an ever-changing spatial upside-down composite smoothed out by our brains. 

Cabinet of Mundanities & Ephemeralities

The Cabinet of Mundanities & Ephemeralities draws on the Victorian hobby of specimen collection (some of which, like seaweed collections, are used today to track changing biodiversity) and the Cabinet of Curiosities style museum. These were arranged to situate the western world at the pinnacle of human evolution. However, I’m more interested in a cabinet that is participatory, hybrid, containing the overlooked and things that might be lost. So there is sand, grass, dirt, seawater and different kinds of plastic waste, as well as objects made by local participants. I made kits as socially distanced participation tools, so people could have a go at some of the techniques I use – from using living plants as slides or filters or drawing/painting on discarded celluloid to make micro cine animations”
Sapphire Goss – September 2021

Sphere is currently exhibited at Boojum&Snark

Sapphire Goss is an artist who works with moving image, photography and other lens-based methods. She creates chimerical collages using unexpected materials and obsolete technologies to make an ‘analogue uncanny’: grainy, shimmering, otherworldly work that grows, decays and lives beyond the surface of the image. In the residency she explored the landscape of Sandown Bay through different strata of time: from the deep time of the night sky, geological layers, to human history, to natural cycles of seasons, growth and decay. The images use rhythm and repetition – through stereographic suspended movement or short zoetrope-style motion sequences – to play with time in different ways. She used antique cameras, filters made from organic and waste materials and seawater and created work with multiple local contributors to portray the landscape as seen through multiple ‘eyes’/viewpoints: natural, historical, cultural, nonhuman, creating tiny windows through which to view the environment, the people who inhabit it, and interconnecting scales of time. Insta @sapphire_goss