OXYOPIA; An extremely heightened acuteness of the eyesight resulting from increased sensibility of the retina
OXYOPIA at the Ashton Memorial, Lancaster
To listen to the original OXYOPIA soundtrack, composed by Rob Antony – push the play button…
In his first 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 in the upper hall.
“It is an honour for me to exhibit in this beautiful and iconic building located within a fairy-tale park“.
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 in a jar and the sudden realisation that you’ve been co-erced into playing a small part in its demise.
Around the balcony, spinning cardboard circles reveal continually adapting animations on the domed walls. A huge centre screen displays Oliver’s signature piece, “Butterbrain”, 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 VJing in nightclubs back in Leeds in the 90’s. The cardboard block’s out light from the projector at exactly 21 frames per second (slightly less than what we are accustomed too), creating one of the most visually mystifying, yet beautifully simple effects that I’ve still never seen bettered. It is a high-octane illusion that will leave one scratching one’s head!”
“The music has been 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 synthesis and beats. It gives me great pleasure hear it come together like this in the gallery.”
If you are not already listining to the original OXYOPIA soundtrack by Rob Antony – push the play button now!
The audio is delivered using a seven-speaker Dolby surround system and adds another dimension to the art that can’t be pinned down. Stare at a painting for a minute and suddenly you’re lost in a B-Movie of your own making. I would recommend smelling salts in the picnic hamper.
OXYOPIA at the Ashton Memorial Gallery, Lancaster from Sunday May 18 through July 26. Further details can be found on the Lancaster City Council’s website
View a 360˚, interactive, OXYOPIA exhibition panorama (courtesy of Valentin Oancea) on Google Maps
Your views from the Exhibition
Thank you everyone for sending in photos from the OXYOPIA exhibition. It’s great to have such a fine record of the event. Please keep ’em coming! – random prizes for the best!
The first random-prize from this photo competition goes to Claire Kingston for her photo montage:
Well done Claire! You win a signed print of your choice!
Attach photos (and any comments you would like to share) by emailing: ben at oxyopia dot co dot uk – Make sure to leave your name and contact details so I can include a photo credit and get in touch if you win.
Dominating the Lancaster skyline, The Ashton Memorial was commissioned by Lord Ashton as a tribute to his late wife. It was designed by John Belcher and completed in 1909. Situated in front of the world famous Williamson Park Butterfly House the first floor outdoor viewing gallery offers superb views of the surrounding countryside and across Morecambe Bay.
Find my artworks on Saatchi Art (but they are cheaper to buy from here!)
Benjamin Oliver is available for exhibitions and commissions. You can contact him here