03 Gallery

Light Plays’ are the results of Marc Rivers’ photographic explorations and artistic research into removing light from fixed form meanings. Through his art, Rivers aims to question how the viewer perceives and feels emotional responses to light. The word photography means drawing with light and LIGHT PLAYS gives meaning to drawing with light in the fullest sense. With no knowledge of what the final image will look like before the photograph is taken,

Marc’s serendipitous process does not evoke an original object but creates an image of texture and colour.

With an outstanding academic background and works shown in local venues such as Modern Art Oxford to further a field in Fort Collins, Denver Colorado, and Naples Florida, USA, Rivers is at a take-off point in his career. Join the O3 in exploring Marc Rivers’ fine art photography, which he hopes will play a role in shaping cultural norms of perception.

Sophie Egleton, Curator O3 Gallery, Oxford

Lita Doolan

An exhibition of contemporary fine art photography by Oxfordshire artist Marc Rivers 

O3 gallery continues to offer tourists, local residents and passers-by innovative work by practitioners who strive to develop techniques that remain unique to their work.

In Marc Rivers’ photographs, he uses the camera as his paintbrush to capture light and does not touch up the final shot, using only those images that do not represent the subject photographed directly.

The mysterious and intriguing series of ‘Rookery’ photographs sets the mind wondering whilst the ‘Wytham’ series offers a clue in the title. Interpreting the work gives the sensation of looking at a Kandinsky painting where an emotional response is provoked in the viewer along with an innate awareness of what the subject of the piece is, whilst all that is being stared at is a pared down group of symbols and shapes. This is clever stuff, and in Rivers statement regarding his work he is very much involved with the science behind how visual stimulus is processed in the brain.

But back to these big fiery colour blocks emanating from the large photographs such as the ‘Esta Noche’ series found in the nucleus of O3; they reflect a lot of the lights that have shone in this Oxford Castle site since its opening, including the eerie theatrical Garden of Gethsemene lit in the exercise yard earlier this summer for the Passion show and the foliage flanking the castle driveway sprinkled with dangling lights ready for the party season. Halloween gives a timely reference to the dark side and the soul of Saxon King Edmund Ironside, allegedly murdered here in 1016, who is said to have startled two passers-by when, a few years ago, they found light shining from an archaeologists’ pit where the courtyard outside O3 is now. Whatever the subjects are that Rivers is inspired to capture he’s not telling, as in the illusive ‘The Poetry of Seeing’, but seeing is definitely believing.

Lita Doolan, 21/10/07

Sally Caswell

The dark grey, cavernous walls of the O3 Gallery provide the perfect foil for the vivid colours of Marc Rivers photography. The eighteen 20 x30″ images are unfocused, abstract and infinitely mysterious.  Certain associations are triggered when you look at some of the pieces, but for the most part the enjoyment of the exhibition comes from the aesthetics. The colours and the general compositions satisfy something within oneself and make the visual experience very worthwhile.

Untitled C particularly stands out for me. It’s a haunting piece with drifting, smoky effects. It appears to be a scene looking across a river at a building on the opposite side. However, Rivers creates such abstract effects that one can never quite be sure. Instead of being irritating, as I thought such uncertainty would be, the result was a slight unsettled sensation which kept me guessing and left me intrigued by his technique. The titles offer little in the way of explanation, ‘O4’, ‘Rookery 25’,  but on  talking to Rivers it soon becomes apparent that the titles are more a part of a system of identification, than means of providing any clues to the picture.

Having spoken to Rivers, his photographs became a lot clearer, or, at least, the motivation behind them did rather than the photographs themselves. He describes his work as “drawing with light”. Indeed, photography literally means this, ‘photo’ originating from photons regarding light, and ‘graph’ being Greek for drawing.  It’s a description, which suits his work very well. Light is his medium as much as paint for a painter is their medium. Despite the abstract nature of the works he doesn’t use digital manipulation to achieve the effects, relying instead on time exposures. In this way he is using pure light.

He invokes the style of Picasso and Braque in his work, explaining that whilst the painters painted things from different angles, they all looked at various perspectives in one piece.

Rivers does this through the time exposures on his camera; as the light moves across the object, the perspective changes and he captures this in his art.

Sally Caswell, 14/10/2007