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Floating somewhere between my cornea and my retina, suspended in a soluble gel-like substance, and formed within the behind-ness of my two supposedly brown eyes, exists a cloud of flying flies. These are more commonly known as  phosphenes or floaters. 


Recently, these small spheres and strings have become a semi-regular reminder that beyond the concave surfaces of both my eyes; entrenched in cavities either side of my nose; lies a dark unfamiliar territory, optically known as the vitreous humor*.


I leave my curtains open at night. I do this so the light in the morning can enter. I like to imagine how the earth slowly rotates eastwards and in turn creates a mirage of a rising sun; it climbs up walls and quietly falls through my bedroom windows, carefully tracing every object on the floor until it finally reaches my closed eyes. It rests here, burning brighter and brighter until its weight is heavy enough to permeate into the vitreous; my eyes open simultaneously. This is lights medium; finally reaching its point of absorption. I wake up and light fills the slightly irregular spheres called my eyes, I let through as much as I can digest, then quickly switch my gaze to the ceiling. Above me appears a mobile of scattered, transparent dots and strings; Ancient Greeks explained this phenomena as ‘myodesopsia’, translating as “seeing fly-like corpuscles”. 


Much like a winged fly, phosphenes tempt the attention of the eye to try decipher their fleeting and esoteric existence. 


After some concentration and research into these entoptic phenomena**, we can begin to notice certain repeated morphological characteristics. Firstly, these small particles of dust and debris*** rely on the presence of light to exist in order to cast their shadows onto the rear of the cornea, resulting in the ghost images in our field of vision. 


Other dependable factors for their transient persistence include concentration and distance. The more time you spend looking at a phosphene, the brighter it will become. Similarly, their intensity will inflame the closer you are to a light source. Subordinate to light particles and the eyes of the beholder, these globular clusters of fibrillae blindly follow the eyes gaze as they sink in and out of dark blinks, into a pool of coagulated fluid. 


My gaze breaks and I keep my stare. Curiously, the flies don’t abide by this. They continue to sink down into the transparent gel at the rear of my eyes. Perhaps this is osmosis or gravity in force... Blink again and exchange a glance and the flies return in full flight.


It is familiar and it is a feeling in the dark. 





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Assembled by

Rosie Burslem

Please click on images/ links to open

Siri Black

500nm (2019)

Video, 7.27min

Siri Black

Fig 23 (Phosphene), Fig 10 (Phosphene), Fig 12 (Phosphene) (2019)

Jesmonite casts, 29.7x21cm

Click here to view

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vitreous humor.jpg

The inside of the eyeball

*Transparent fluid occupying the space behind the lens and in front of the retina at the back of the eye.

**Visual effects whose source is physically within the eye itself.

***Small particles of various matter get caught within the back of your eye, and coagulate within the vitreous.

*This is an archived version of this edition of Soft Spot Online; artworks are therefore not embedded but instead have been replaced with images and links to view the works in their respective spaces on artist's websites*

Euan Campbell-Vaughan

Courtesy of the artist 


Video, 12.03min

Euan Campbell-Vaughan
 Pinterest The 'Self-Grown' Pictures of

An image from Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge’s chemistry experiments as seen in Der Bildungstrieb der Stoffe, veranschaulicht in selbstständig gewachsenen Bilder [The formative tendency of substances illustrated by autonomously developed images], (Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, 2014).


Subjective visual phenomena, in Beiträge zur Kenntniss des Sehens in subjectiver Hinsicht [Contributions to the knowledge of vision from a subjective point of view], 1819, p 178.


The reflections of a candle flame from the structures of the eye. From Commentatio de examine physiologico organi visus et systematis cutanei [To examine the physiological organ of sight and cutaneous system], 1823, p 59.[9]. "Fig. 1. Candlelight reflection from anterior and posterior cornea and from the anterior and posterior portion of the lens. Fig. 2. Candlelight reflection from the anterior surface of the cornea and the posterior surface of the lens where the image is reversed. Fig. 3. Candlelight reflection from the anterior surface of the cornea and from the anterior surface of the lens where the reflection is erect. Fig. 4. Semicircular umbrula (weak shadow) which projects from the iris to the anterior surface of the lens. Fig. 5. A light from the substantia albuginea to the centre of the anterior chamber."


Visual vertigo and flashing lights after the use of foxglove (38–42), concentric circles and rays for testing of the myopic eye (44–45), axis of the short- and long-sighted eye for an explanation of strabismus (46), or explanation of inverted movements of an object (pin) in front of an image near the eye (47–49). In Neue Beiträge zur Kenntniss des Sehens in subjectiver Hinsich [New contributions to the knowledge of seeing in a subjective way], 1825, p 54.

Jan Evangelista Purkyně drawings (1887-1869)

For further reading… Purkinje’s Vision, The Dawning of Neuroscience (2001) by Nicholas J.Wade and Josef Brožek in collaboration with Jiří Hoskovec

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David Fagan

What could possibly be wrong with a man who's lived as long as I have (2013)

Video installation, 2 channel

O western orb sailing the heaven,

Now I know what you must have meant as a month since I walk’d,

As I walk’d in silence the transparent shadowy night,

As I saw you had something to tell as you bent to me night after night,

As you droop’d from the sky low down as if to my side, (while the other stars all look’d on,)

As we wander’d together the solemn night, (for something I know not    what kept me from sleep,)

-Excerpt from When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d by Walt Whitman, 1865

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Daisy Lafarge and Natalie Chin

a record of failed transcendence (8th May song) (2015)

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Rick Myers

Drawing with removed subject (2011)

Video & sound

Figure skater: Brittney Rizo

Thank you to everyone included on this page. For links please see below:-

Siri Black

Ewan Campbell-Vaughan

David Fagan

Daisy Lafarge

Natalie Chin

Rick Myers

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