Gallery visit: 528Hz Love Frequency

Chris Levine at Houghton Hall
October 26, 2021
Molecule of Light by Chris Levine, 2021
Molecule of Light by Chris Levine, 2021
On a warm October evening we went to the first public showing of 528Hz Love Frequency, a series of immersive light installations by Chris Levine at Houghton Hall. The house, lawn and galleries have been transformed by Levine's medium, light.
Molecule of Light by Chris Levine, is a monumental sculptural light installation. The imposing tripod on the main lawn emits a combination of light and sound frequencies that coincide with programmed plumes of dry ice with which Levine works his technological master plan. The resulting mist reveals strategically positioned laser beams, located left and right that define the main sight lines of the formally planted garden and the geometry of the house as it was located in the landscape in 1720.
Those who remember Peter Greenaway's film The Draughtsman's Contract (1982) will recognise that this is rich territory for the English country house. Instead of using drawing, a view finder and carefull measurement to describe the circumnavigation of garden and grounds, as in Greenaway's film, Levine has employed lasers that trace and plot the symmetry of the historic architecture, making its mathematical perfection apparent for a more contemporary audience. The installation is physically involving. It encourages the viewer to take part, we complete the work by pacing the parameters of the site.
The main structure has a 'War of the Worlds' appearance. Its unsettling presence is offset by a strangely comforting low level soundscape transmitted from the structure that lessens as the viewer moves away from its centre. The combination of sound and laser light gives the viewer an acute awareness of their place in the landscape. Each installation heightens the viewer's perception of the environment, drawing our attention toward the horizon and the axis of the planet within the solar system as the earth rotates away from the sun and the remaining grey light disappears. What could be seen as a shiny novelty, turns unexpectadly into a much more profound experience for the viewer.
There are also a series of new and more familiar holographic artworks, prints and immersive laser and LED installations in the two groundfloor galleries, including Levine's etherial 3D holographic portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. If you have not seen it, it is one of the few images of the queen that is utterly captivating and will stand the test of time. The queen is presented with her eyes closed. The 3D image reminds us of both the woman and the embodiment of regal power, she is both monarch and postage stamp and consequently unlike any other portrait. The LED installations or Blips are deceptive too, they only reveal their true nature as the viewer turns their head away from or if they look indirectly at the intense columns of light. This is clever stuff, and the technology opens up new possibilities for portraiture without dominating the subject, In finding applications for tech that outstrip its manufactured origins, Chris Levine's installations open the door to confound our perceptual boundaries.

Chris Levine's 528Hz Love Frequency is at Houghton Hall, Norfolk from 22 October to 23 December 2021, visit the Houghton Hall website for entry details.


 Chris Levine, installation of 528Hz Love Frequency 2021


Chris Levine, installation of 528Hz Love Frequency 2021

About the author

Paul Barratt, Director and Curator at Contemporary and Country

Paul Barratt

Paul Barratt started working in contemporary art galleries in 1989, having graduated in Fine Art from Goldmsith’s, London University. He initially worked at Anthony d’Offay Gallery, one of the contemporary art dealers, who dominated the London art market in the 80s and 90s. He was approached by the Lisson Gallery to be gallery manager for the influential art dealer Nicholas Logsdail. This was followed by a short period in New York at Gladstone Gallery, to work for visionary art dealer Barbara Gladstone, working with the artist and filmmaker Matthew Barney.


On his return to London, Paul secured a place on the postgraduate curatorial course at the Royal College of Art, to complete an MA. After graduation in 2001, he worked as an independent curator on several projects in Oslo, London, Brighton and Basel, before joining Paul Vater at his design agency Sugarfree in 2004. He has worked with Paul ever since.