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Grace Jones x Chris Levine

Royal photographer Levine takes on the Queen of androgynous music and fashion in a his Vinyl Factory exhibition

'Stillness at the Speed of Light' is a new exhibition by Chris Levine, the groundbreaking light artist who works with 3D, laser and LED to create the most sensorial and spiritual work of today. Mostly known for his portraits of the Queen to commemorate 800 years of allegiance to the crown by the Island of Jersey, this time Chris collaborates with Grace Jones to offer a new exciting approach to portraiture and video making. The exhibition is on show from 30th April until 15th May 2010 at The Vinyl Factory Gallery in Poland Street, London’s Soho. Chris Levine spoke to us about light, Grace’s new video and his art.

DazedDigital: When and why did you first decide you wanted to work with light?
Chris Levine: I've always been fascinated by light since I was a kid. I can remember seeing my first laser light and being totally mesmerised.

DD: In no more than five words, what does light represent to you?
Chris Levine: Nature / God / Life / Beauty / Love

DD: What does the Vinyl Factory offer that other venues don’t for your show?
Chris Levine: I guess as much as anything it's the scale of the place and it's in the heart of Soho.

DD: 3D is seeping into our lives through displays of work like yours and film. Any plans on working in the film industry soon?
Chris Levine: I thought my film time had arrived when I heard one of my laserpods had been given to both Steven Spielberg and George Lucas but maybe they lost my number. For sure, if light is the raw data of image free the beam. There is a lot I could do and would like to. Its been coming a long time and its got along way to go.

DD: Tell us a bit about your experience directing Grace’s video. What is the feature/section/area of it that you enjoyed the most and why? Were there any breakthroughs in terms of technology discoveries, new ideas, concepts or other while directing it?
Chris Levine: I was nervous to take it on because I'd never directed a video before but I did have a clear vision. It could all go very wrong and Grace would exterminate me. So I got a really good team around me and it came together nicely - as part one. I'd like to take it further actually. Though using high technology I like to keep it raw.

DD: You were introduced to Grace a while ago; was it a casual idea to work together or did you both sit down and discuss it thoroughly from the start?
Chris Levine: Philip Treacy introduced us and there was no time for discussion. I met Grace standing on stage at the Royal Festival Hall and told her that if she stood on this cross on the floor all light would break loose from her head. Luckily my theory worked and it looked awesome.

DD: What other artists do you admire in your own field of work?
Chris Levine: I'm not sure what my field is any more but some creative artists that come to mind are Bjork and Anish Kapoor.

DD: Whom do you seek for advice when you have doubts or do not feel to happy with certain results?
Chris Levine: I bounce things off whoever is around at the time to assure me or confirm my doubts. My engineer Dan often casts a light on it or my kids even turn things upside down so I can see more clearly.

DD: Where do you see portraiture evolving?
Chris Levine: Towards the soul.

DD: Where do you go to research and come up with new ideas to generate the ‘new and unexplored’ concepts you offer?

Chris Levine: I am experimenting.

DD: Who would you say is the most charismatic person you have worked with?
Chris Levine: Grace Jones...of course.

Stillness at the Speed of Light, The Vinyl Factory, 51 Poland Street, London W1F 7LZ, 30 April - 14 May