Out of the Shadows

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

LIGHT: Chris Levine's immersive art installation at Durham Cathedral combines the latest technology with contemporary sacred music

Chris Levine: LIGHT (Photo Andy Atkinson)
Chris Levine: LIGHT (Photo Andy Atkinson)

Over a year ago, Durham Cathedral installed Chris Levine immersive art installation LIGHT in the cathedral's Galilee Chapel, but only now is the public able to experience this combination of a matrix of lasers directed through a crystal crucifix creating a wash of light inspired by St. Cuthbert’s pectoral cross (considered one of the great treasures of its time and on display in the cathedral’s museum) with a sound-track of sacred choral music in recordings by The Sixteen, conductor Harry Christophers, including music by Alissa Firsova, Joseph Phibbs, Roderick Williams, Stephen Hough, Sir James MacMillan and Among Angels by Will Todd (who was born in Durham). There is a Spotify playlist of the music.

Levine explains how the piece works using the latest technology, "For this piece I have used a remarkable new technology. At first glance it appears to be simply a vertical strip of oscillating light. However, when you look past it or shake your head, an image of the St Cuthbert Cross is projected into your peripheral vision. This is experienced in the present moment and if you try to hold onto the image it disappears. As in meditation, if you try to hold onto the present moment you loose the equanimity and benefit of the experience. Let go and let it be."

LIGHT was commissioned in 2010 by the Genesis Foundation for Holy Trinity Church, London and it has been adapted especially for Durham Cathedral and all the music was originally commissioned by the Genesis Foundation (which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year).

Chris Levine is a light artist who works across many mediums in pursuit of an expanded state of perception and awareness through image and form. Levine’s work considers light not just as a core aspect of art, but of human experience more widely and a spiritual, meditative and philosophical edge permeates his work. Levine is perhaps best known for Lightness of Being, his image of Queen Elizabeth II which was displayed at the National Portrait Gallery.

Further information from the Durham Cathedral website.

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