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While at Regent’s Park for the Frieze art fair in London this week, be sure to check out the Danish Church across the way, where a unique light and sound installation by Chris Levine is on view in the nave. The immersive work, “Angel Presence,” was done in collaboration with Nadja Swarovski especially for Frieze Week.
As an artist, Levine is interested in how light can manifest a transformative experience. Using a pure laser light shot through a group of specially-created Swarovski crystals, he creates a changing, multi-colored light pattern that will cause a viewers to see the outline of an angel in their peripheral vision.
Whitewall spoke with the artist about making meditative, mind altering encounters in art.
WHITEWALL: Where did you draw inspiration from for this installation?
CHRIS LEVINE: Increasingly my inspiration comes from the stillness of meditation: I’m fascinated by the energetic forces that exist beyond what we can understand and that influence our perceived reality. By using pure laser light and specific frequencies of sound waves that are known to resonate with the energy systems in the body, the experience of the work becomes akin to a meditative state, drawing you towards stillness. This is a divine and expansive state of awareness.
WW: How did you come up with the idea of having viewers see an angel in their peripheral?
CL: This is an imaging technique I’ve been developing for several years and it’s become something of a signature lightform in my work. I’m interested in new ways of seeing and looking at image production as a sensory form that makes the image truly experiential. The image of the Angel appears only fleetingly in the present moment of now. Through meditation I’ve become aware of higher octaves of reality and these are possibly angelic realms.
WW: What was it like collaborating with Swarovski this time compared to your previous collaboration with the brand?
CL: I’ve worked with Swarovski across a number of projects since 2005. Over the years my interest in Swarovski crystals has deepened and as I’ve worked more with them the more I appreciate their purity. Over the last few years I’ve metamorphosed and evolved my practice. My work with light is now to do with transformative sensory experience, and moving away from a reliance on the design object. Swarovski facilitated this project and helped me realise a vision using crystal to create a type of light form that despite the technology involved, has a super organic quality and is so beautiful. It’s alchemy of light and crystal that has profound implications on well being when we tune into it and let go to the experience.
WW: Do you think working with light reaches the viewer in a different way that couldn’t be done through other mediums?
CL: When working with light we are dealing with energy. Everything is energy and with laser light that energy is very pure, just single wavelengths of light. This light energy becomes a part of your energetic systems and you quite literally connect with the art and the intent of its creation. That can be a very powerful experience and one that has fundamentally to do with beauty in its purest form: Light.
WW: What was your reaction to the reception of your portrait of the Queen?
CL: I could never have imagined how the work was going to resonate with so many people around the world. Most exciting for me is that the piece projects a message of turning inwards. True beauty is within. The title came to me when I was meditating and the objective of all my work is to induce a meditative state—a “lightness of being.”
“Angel Presence” is on view October 14-17.