Monday, May 10, 2010

Grace Jones by Chris Levine

First published on theartsdesk.com

Grace Jones with laser and crystal bowler hat by Chris Levine
Grace Jones with laser and crystal bowler hat by Chris Levine (c) Chris Levine

One can hardly imagine the spiky dervish Grace Jones sitting still for a second, let alone remaining motionless long enough to have photographs (and plenty of them) taken for her portrait. Nevertheless, Chris Levine has managed to pin her down - in a manner of speaking.

Levine's exhibition at the Vinyl Factory - Stillness at the Speed of Light - captures the performance artist's restless activity in a very clever way: several of his portraits are in fact lenticular 3D portraits - holograms. Having shot many images of Grace's face in motion, Levine layers them and illuminates them with acid colours and lasers. When you walk past the portrait, her eyes demurely flutter open or shut or she sways slightly.

The laser beam bouncing off Jones' crystal bowler was Levine's contribution to her recent show at the Albert Hall, and he has made it a motif for this one, Jones' impassive stare daring you to look on as light shoots towards you.

Levine used this technique most famously with a portrait of the Queen, but it works especially well with Jones: for her, a machine of perpetual motion, only a moving portrait will do.

See Chris Levine's portraits of Grace Jones in motion here.

The most spectacular piece in the show is perhaps impossible to capture. By cutting an image of Jones into tiny vertical strips and feeding them into a flickering column of light, you see nothing when you stare directly at it, but as soon as you turn away, it appears in a flash in your peripheral vision, and disappears as quickly. Another perfect metaphor for Jones' heightened speed.

  1. Stillness (single)
  2. Stillness (triptych)
  3. Superstar (single blue)
  4. Superstar (single red)
  5. Superstar (triptych)
  6. Superstar (sequence blue)
  7. Superstar (sequence multicolour)

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

totally wild! would love to see these for real

Josh Spero said...

It's still on at the Vinyl Factory - I was there last night. You should definitely go if you're in London.