Time Out Singapore: Chris Levine

Born in Canada and now based in the UK, Chris Levine, 53, is a renowned artist who has created iconic portraits of Kate Moss and Queen Elizabeth II. Rather than using traditional media like paint or pens, however, Levine is famed for his use of light. As Collectors Contemporary showcases a series of his light sculptures, light boxes, photographic prints, holographic works and laser light installations, he tells Gwen Pew more about his art.

Chris Levine's piece of the Queen. Image courtesy of the artist.

Chris Levine’s piece of the Queen. Image courtesy of the artist.

27 Dec 2013:


While light seems to be a rather unusual medium to work with, Levine has always been fascinated with it: ‘Somehow it resonated with my curiosity – and the more I’ve looked into it, the deeper I’ve gone. I don’t see it as technical, but more that it’s a phenomenon fundamental to life [on Earth].’


Teamwork is key in creating his works: ‘Most of my work involves quite a few people and the bringing together of complementary talents. I have a great team of collaborators. Some key players in my story are Dan Siden, the brilliant engineer who oversees all aspects of development and production, Jeff Robb, my guru of 3D imaging, and the Haberdashery team, who fabricate most of my projects.’


Amidst the wires and light bulbs, the thing that he finds most challenging ‘is to keep [the pieces] soulful. For the work to be evocative, it has to somehow transcend the physical aspects of its production and work on a sensory and experiential level.’


The pieces that are most special to him are his portraits of Kate Moss: ‘I always knew I would work with her; as a cultural icon, she was right at the top of my wish list as a subject for some time. The work went down really well and all kinds of positivity have transpired as a result.’



If he didn’t become a light artist, he’d have been… ‘A drummer in a rock and roll band! I gave up drumming when I went to art school because you can’t practice quietly and I drove everyone crazy at 3am in my hall of residence. [I’m trying to bring] sound back into my work. I’m fascinated by the idea of seeing sound and it’s part of my future plans and themes.’

Time Out Singapore: Ho Tzu Nyen

After representing Singapore at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011, local multimedia artist Ho Tzu Nyen marks his first solo show on home soil in ten years with PYTHAGORAS – an exhibition of four films shown simultaneously in a darkened room (lasting just over a half hour), touching on themes of control and being controlled (they’re also each named after historic figures: Newton, Milton, Gould and Pythagoras). Gwen Pew finds out five more things to know about the 37-year-old video and theatre artist.

Local artist Ho Tzu Nyen

Local artist Ho Tzu Nyen. Image courtesy of Michael Janssen Gallery.

28 Nov 2013:


The last solo show Ho did here was in 2003, but he’s been far from slacking: ‘Since 2003, I’ve made a number of theatre pieces (including King Lear at the 2008 Singapore Arts Festival), a TV series (4 x 4 – Episodes of Singapore Art, 2005) and a feature film (EARTH, 2009 – select scenes are remixed into MILTON). I’ve also been involved with some projects outside of Singapore.’


Although many of his works involve theatre, his preferred type of live performance is actually music (GOULD is named after pianist Glen Gould): ‘To be honest, I don’t really enjoy going to the theatre. However, I do love the small things [about theatre] such as the lights, the speakers, the mechanisms. And I think this is apparent in the exhibition.’


He’s ‘always been a little obsessed with curtains’, which the titular film is projected onto: ‘[They are the] most ordinary and most mysterious of objects. They make known the presence of wind, they catch light, and they hover so elegantly between the inside and the outside.’


Summing up his thoughts on PYTHAGORAS, Ho says: ‘I think of this exhibition as a theatrical machine caught in a loop, where the ghosts of former works have been summoned to accompany a choir of melancholic machines.’


Looking ahead… ‘My next project is called Ten Thousand Tigers, and it is an attempt to tell the story of this region through the history of Malayan tigers – real, spectral and metaphorical. This will be a live performance next April.’

Time Out Singapore: Joo Choon Lin’s ‘Resolution of Reality’ Review


Joo Choon Lin's 'Resolution of Reality' in situ. Photo courtesy of Singapore Tyler Print Intstitute (STPI).

Joo Choon Lin’s ‘Resolution of Reality’ in situ. Photo courtesy of Singapore Tyler Print Intstitute (STPI).

29 Nov 2012: The latest exhibition at Hermès’ third floor exhibition space is another site-specific installation – this time by young local artist Joo Choon Lin, who specialises in stop-motion animations with various media (such as her video segments in ‘Too Big in the Tank’, which was featured at the Esplanade Tunnel as part of the 2011 Singapore Arts Festival).

Resolution of Reality features several new animations in the form of a series of videos entitled ‘Vaporised by Sunrise’, in which she uses acetone to corrode various hand-made Styrofoam models of old-school electronic devices. She depicts the objects in various stages as they melt away into shapeless puddles – quite entertaining to watch.

The exhibition’s title piece features three screens depicting a laser printer printing out sheets of reflective paper in three different locations – a park (with the video subtitled ‘life’), a cemetery (‘death’) and by a pond (‘spirituality’). Along a similar vein is the exhibition’s centrepiece, ‘Multi-Tiered Falls’, which consists of a dot matrix printer suspended from the ceiling and printing a series of 14 images of the ocean onto a roll of continuous paper, which cascades down to the floor. It’s perhaps the most intriguing piece on display just for its simplicity; it’s meant to mimic the process of watching a film – in this case, a very, very slow film. Where regular videos show approximately 30 frames per second, Joo’s installation produces one frame every 15 minutes.

It’s hard to pin down exactly what the purpose is of all these somewhat quirky creations and videos – certainly, there’s a fixation on various technologies old and new as well as nature (as evidenced by the natural settings in ‘Resolution’ and the ocean frames in ‘Multi-Tiered Falls’). Beyond that, explaining any sort of connecting theme or deeper meaning gets a bit obtuse. Still, they’re fun experiments – we particularly like the cute Styrofoam replicas shown in ‘Vaporised’; the sad remains of which are hung up behind the exhibition space.