Thursday, 12 June 2014

Butterfly on a wheel: Benjamin Oliver brings 'Oxyopia' Exhibition to the Aston Memorial

'The Death of Butterbrain'
part of the 'Oxyopia' Exhibition by Benjamin Oliver

Running until the 26th July, Lancaster based artist and filmmaker Benjamin Oliver brings you a collection of his latest works under the OXYOPIA banner at the landmark Ashton Memorial Gallery, in Lancaster's Williamson Park.

In this, his first ever solo exhibition, Oliver presents a series of artworks that trace a specific understanding the artist has of oxyopia. 'Oxyopia' is defined as: “an extremely heightened acuteness of the eyesight, resulting from increased sensibility of the retina”. Oliver relates this to an environment where paint combines with light and sound to create a systematically womb-like and immersive experience.

First, there are the paintings. Framed in faded Victorian splendour, they are large and imposing, progressive graphical artworks. Butterflies, insects, animal and human forms are fused together in playful and surreal landscapes.

In the centre of the hall stands a pedestal with instructions... Follow these to be faced with an animatronic butterfly flying in a jar and the sudden realisation that by following the instructions .... well, you will find out.
You can see some of the Oxyopia works on Oliver's website at http://oxyopia.co.uk/.

Around the balcony, spinning cardboard circles reveal projections of continually adapting animations on the domed walls. A huge centre screen displays a great, three dimensional butterfly caught in an endless loop. Projectors strobe, images float and spin. Professor Brainstorm may have a few patents-pending on some of the technology used here but the effect is solid.

Oliver backs up his old-school techniques:

“It has to be seen to be believed! I developed the spinning cardboard animation technique VJ-ing in nightclubs, back in Leeds in the 90’s. The cardboard blocks out light from the projectors at exactly 16 frames per second, creating one of the most visually mystifying, yet beautifully simple effects that I’ve still never seen bettered. It is a super-cool, high-octane illusion that will leave one scratching one’s head.”

The finishing touch is provided by Electronica artist and producer, Rob Antony:
http://soundcloud.com/rob-a/

Antony says:

“The music has been custom-made to adapt to the shape of the hall. We recorded a lot of the sounds you will hear in Morecambe Bay, Lancaster town centre and Williamson Park. We then played them back inside the dome and recorded the results. I later added synthesisers and beats. It gives me great pleasure hear it come together like this in the gallery.”

The audio is delivered using a seven-speaker Dolby surround system, adding another sensory, immersive dimension to the art.

Entry is free and the exhibition runs until the 26th July.

For more about the exhibition and Benjamin Oliver's work visit http://oxyopia.co.uk/ and
https://www.facebook.com/mrbenjaminoliver

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