THE SOUND AND VISION EXPERIENCE BY CHRIS LEVINE AND THE iy_project:
It started out in Eden Project, a botanical garden in the southeast of England which is simply out of this world. This visionary place was home to the birth of the immersive light and sound installation that grew and grew until it became a powerful entity in itself. The iy_project is the zenith of Chris Levine’s work, and it marks the passage into a world that leaves all meaning behind, focusing on the now and the human senses through a transcending experience. The iy_project continues to grow; it keeps expanding and taking on new forms, finding new wavelengths of expression and mesmerising more and more people. It has become an icon for visual and performing arts worldwide, and it won’t stop anytime soon.
The series of audio-visual performances is conceptually grounded in the pure, single-frequency quality of laser light. It grasps the sublime and it draws one’s mind to the fundamental properties of all matter in the universe – the particles of light, building blocks of everything. The geometric patterns of laser lights beam across the visual field of the beholder, and seem to shoot out into the endless night. The overall effect brings to mind the awe-inspiring power of natural phenomena, the grandeur of the world around us and of what a privilege it is for us to be able to connect with the universe itself on such an intimate level.
Sound is essential to the iy_project, as it is harmonised to the visual elements; sound and light converge and give birth to synesthetic and harmonic relationships. As Chris would say, ‘you hear the light and see the sound’. This formidable and enveloping experience ultimately flips one’s senses upside down and brings one closer to the end game of meditation itself: complete submersion into the purest forms of light and sound as the primary elements that affect us every single day. You sort of become one with the universe. You break away from the chaotic dissonance of daily life.
For an artist like Chris, who has moved around quite a bit throughout his life, stillness through art and meditation has become a necessity and a blessing. The iy_project invites us all to partake in this enlightening process, to experience the audio-visual stimuli and be still – let the pure light and the solfeggio scale of soundscapes take us to a new level of existence.
The iy_project is also a collaborative series, bringing Chris’ technical artistry together with iconic musicians and composers in order to deliver the ultimate impression. Names such as Massive Attack, Grace Jones, Jon Hopkins, Charles Hazlewood and Anonhi have headlined the project in various live performances; these include the stunning David Bowie tribute set to Phillip Glass at Glastonbury Festival 2016 and the Antony & The Johnsons’ Swanlights performance at Radio City, New York for the Museum of Modern Art, to name but a few.
Most recently, the iy_project made its way down to beautiful Hastings to open the ROOT1066 Festival of Contemporary Arts. 2016 marks the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings and William the Conqueror’s invasion of England, both events that changed the course of history. As part of the festival’s plan to bring innovative and fresh perspectives on the history and legacy of the year 1066, Chris’ iy_project was commissioned to headline the event with yet another play of sound and vision, meant to break away from the conventional and take viewers out of their senses’ comfort zone and into the ‘space between thoughts’.
The entire laser performance was a unique thrill to experience, as Chris’ light technology stood against the forces of nature, overlooking the sea and covering the night sky in playful and almost alien laser beams, switching and flowing in colours. ‘The pier puts you face to face with the raw power of the sea,’ said Chris in an interview with AfterNyne. By tuning laser light forms to the curious sounds of Sacred Acoustics and Marco Perry, the iy_project enveloped the people in a moment of pure meditation. ‘To meditate is to get closer to the source of creation and just a momentary state can bring about well-being,’ Chris went on to say.
The most significant part of the entire show was seeing the pier be brought back into the contemporary life, as a historical entity of the past. Thousands looked up that night, and watched as the iy_project stripped the sky of darkness.
Thousands more will gather back at the Eden Project this winter, as the iy_project returns to where it started. The gardens will once more welcome the serenity and spiritual detachment that comes with Chris’ audio-visual performance. And the best part about it is that it will be different again. It’s always different. It always changes and shows you something else, expanding in a multitude of frequencies and colours and experimenting with itself as it evolves.
December 2016 will see the iy_project resume its place in the heart of man-made nature, to once again exhilarate and offer precious glimpses of infinity. It will surprise. It will engage. It will transcend. For more images and videos, head on to Chris Levine’s website.