Selected works by Chris Levine

Chris Levine
Lightness of Being


Pigment print

76.2 x 61 cm

It was a happy ‘accident’ that resulted in Chris Levine’s meditative portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. He had set out on a commission to commemorate the Isle of Jersey’s 800th year of allegiance to the crown in a holographic portrait, a process that involved an extraordinary technological array: a high-resolution digital camera which moved along a rail taking 200 images over eight seconds, a 3-D data scanner and a medium format camera which he could use, if necessary, to capture information he could texture-map onto the 3-D data sets. The queen was required to sit still for 8 seconds at a time, and between the passes she closed her eyes to rest. Levine was struck by the beauty of her meditative state and snapped the shutter.
A picture like this would have been inconceivable even 20 years ago. The formal portrait has for some time been fraying around the edges, but now in our paparazzi culture it reads as entirely bogus. Closed eyes were reserved for great singers and musicians, who were in tune with another world; Kings, Queens and statesmen had to have their eyes open and fixed firmly on the here-and-now. In recent years, the Queen has been fair game for subversive image-makers. Tibor Kalman imagined her as a black woman in his series What if?, while Alison Jackson made her out to be, well, just like the rest of us. Yousuf Karsh would role over in his grave.

Text by William A Ewing


Jan 2012, by Jason Lipshutz, Billboard Biz

On Thursday night (Jan. 26), Antony Hegarty of Antony & The Johnsons unveiled "Swanlights," an operating, awe-inspiring one-time performance piece presented in conjunction with the Museum of Modern Art at Radio City Music Hall in New York. Antony and the 60-piece New York Symphony Orchestra performed selections from his four studio albums while a suspended crystalline sculpture hung over the experimental pop singer's head and laser lights danced around his body. When the curtains finally closed on the 90-minute performance, the sold-out Radio City crowd - which included Tilda Swinton, Alan Cumming and frequent Antony collaborator Bjork - blasted the theater with thunderous applause.

On Friday, U.K. light artist Chris Levine, who was commissioned to help develop "Swanlights" after working with Antony in 2009 on his "The Crying Light" performance piece at the Manchester International Festival, spoke to about arranging the intricate show and what he tried to accomplish with this piece. Levine sees the performance as a watershed moment for the baroque singer: "Antony went into that as a star, and left a superstar," he says.

Billboard: What kind of feedback have you gotten on the show?

I've heard directly from the museum, from people like Glenn Lowry, the Director. It was a really electric feeling afterwards. People witnessed something -- something I think people will be talking about for a long time. For me it's a good platform to show my work: I'm trying to take light into new realms, so the collaboration with Antony is a great platform for me to put some original work out there. The response last night is good affirmation that we're doing something that people are really responding to.


November 2007, by Patrick Burgoyne, Creative Review

As part of our series of profiles on imagemakers working with light, published in association with Aurea by Philips, Paula Carson interviews Chris Levine. Shown above: Lightness of Being: Glycee Print portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth II as shown at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2007
Beauty in the pure, simple form of light is the gift artist Chris Levine proffers to those who encounter his work. Using media such as laser, optics, LED and natural light, Levine aims to inspire a sense of wonder in viewers, hopefully taking them to unexplored sensory and spiritual territory in the process.
His experimental work with holograms (most famously his portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, above) helped Levine to develop a profound understanding of laser, which he describes as “the purest form of light,” and which he uses with great clarity and impact. His work has graced fashion shows, band tours, galleries and the occasional ad.
Over the years Levine has worked for and collaborated with the likes of Cartier, Swarovski, Massive Attack, Warren du Preez and Nick Thornton Jones, Selfridges, Issey Miyake, Absolut, Chanel and BMW. With photographer Mario Testino, Levine has formed concept lighting label Plugg: its first product, the Laserpod, has been widely hailed as a modern equivalent to the Lavalamp. Levine studied graphic design at Chelsea School of Art, completing his MA in Computer Graphics at Central St Martins during what he vaguely refers to as “the ‘80s”. Such ambiguity isn’t motivated by vanity: Levine simply prefers not to attach dates either to himself or his work. As he puts it, “All work is produced within the wholeness of light and space and is timeless.”

Source: Creative review