Elizabeth Gossling at Tintype Gallery

Filed in Reviews by on July 16, 2015

Elizabeth Gossling – Burn

Tintype Gallery

16 April to 9 May 2015

Elizabeth Gossling

Elizabeth Gossling


In the 1950’s and 60’s a man called John Cura set up his camera in front of his television set and shot a series that captured on-screen footage. These ‘tele snaps’ provided archive material for what was being broadcast in Britain during these two decades, and essentially, can be looked back now as a precursor to today’s screenshot. Little remains of this archive today, with any originals that have survived being highly sought after.

My initial impression on walking into the gallery was how modern and uncluttered the space felt. The glass covering the prints on the wall gleamed, and the saturated dark background of each print helped to reference the appearance of a flat screen television. Indeed, each of these prints had been mounted onto the wall in the same way a television would be, each one at a slightly different angle. It was slightly surreal. Five of these prints, each the same size. Like some futuristic show room, these five prints as flat screens bear down upon you.

For all of the reference to a modern flat screen, each one of the prints showed a different early model of a television set. The appearance of the televisions resembled crumbling edifices. Their colours were muted. Lacking screens, the innards of the television sets appeared to ooze and coagulate, with the textures of splintering computer game graphics, of early and unpolished digital renderings. On a couple of the images there was the likeness of a mound of snow sitting on the top. There was an unsettling mix of the old, brought to life in a digital manner, yet even this didn’t allow for a perfect likeness.

Opposite sat two larger prints. Cura is standing behind his tripod, ready to shoot. The camera and the tripod, similar to the televisions, were almost melting away. Globules were falling from the object and floating into space. It was as though a hologram was fading. Cura’s body in comparison felt sharp and solid, with deft likenesses even of the creases on his trousers. Yet, behind his glasses, his face was pixellated. The aesthetic was matched on the adjoining print. The only difference is there were two figures standing behind a tripod, yet their bodies were joined in a way that seemed inconceivable. One stands with his head in his hands, yet one of his arms goes straight through the neck of the other.

All the images felt unreal. There was such a precise definition to some of this imagery contrasted with that of decay. The figures encased in a two dimensional print look as though they could have originally been marble statues, such was the definition of their three dimensionality. It was holographic to the extent that you could envisage the crispness being lost to a bad signal. This is what made me think about the ways these prints related to this initial archive. Loss of quality, the visual fuzz on loss of reception. And there, on one unassuming shelf in an alcove sat three little guidebooks, each for ways to correct faults with the image on your television screen.

That is, for this exhibition, way too simple for a link. Yes, it does relate to the picture qualities that Cura was capturing on film back in the fifties and sixties. But Elizabeth Gossling has animated old images in new ways, with their exquisite three-dimensional detail, achieved with new methods of scanning. The fact these images are not perfect, with all their oozing and flaking, perhaps raises questions of the durability of our methods of reproduction, and that maybe levels of accuracy are depleted every time something is transferred onto or into another medium. For me, there was something impressive in the patience that had gone into creating these images with such three dimensional precision, and then being able to distort this. It raised a question of the nature of fixing imagery, if it is a tangible notion to apply to something so fast paced and forever changing. And, if it isn’t a tangible notion, perhaps that could be why the imagery on show here is alluding to destruction.

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Ann-Marie Rayney

About the Author ()

Ann-Marie Rayney is a printmaker based in London. Recently graduated from Goldsmiths with a Fine Art and Art History degree, she will most likely be found exploring London's cultural offerings or covered in ink at Sonsoles Print Studio in Peckham. To see some of her work, have a sneaky peak at her website here. http://cargocollective.com/annmarierayney

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