A couple of months ago I was hanging out with a friend who suggested we check out a performance art piece. An art show is always my kind of thing, so I was happy to come along without knowing anything about the artist, Jason Levine. Technical delays were mitigated by good company and good wine and when Jason did eventually take the stage I was blown away by the way he combined movement, beat boxing and technology so seamlessly.
Being the shameless blogger that I am, I immediately introduced myself to Levine after the show and hounded him for an interview, which he generously agreed to. Over chai tea recently we talked about the evolution of his work, his trip to India and what the future has in store for him.
Stephanie Laughlin: I love hearing about the evolution of an artist’s work; how did you get started?
Jason Levine: I’ve been a musician for a long time, started out as a guitarist and vocalist, and I was in probably just about every type of band you could imagine: Reggae to hip hop to punk to metal… it was fun, but after awhile, I was definitely looking for a change.
SL: So what did you do?
JL: I love the idea of music inspiring images. And so while I don’t paint or draw, I realized that my degree in computer science could be used for creative purpose after all. I hooked up with the Manucirque company and started creating music for the circus, we went and did shows in Mexico, Austria… that was the beginning of developing the type of performances I do now.
SL: That sounds incredible
JL: It was…I discovered what I wanted to do after running away with the circus (laughs). This type of performance has been my focus for about a year now.
SL: What do you like the most about the pieces?
JL: Without a doubt that no two pieces are the same. Sure I may try and work out a bit of the basics, but nothing brings me more excitement than feeding off the moment. I also love collaborating with other artists to see how they utilize the technology… No matter what ends up happening in the performance, for me the intention is more important than the goal. Planning any of it would ruin the magic.
SL: So you travel around North America presenting your performance pieces, and by the time this article comes out on Forget the Box you’ll be off to do a performance in India! Tell FTB readers about that…
JL: I’m going to The Carnival of eCreativity near the northeast foothill of the Himalayas. It’s something I’ve been really passionate about doing, not only for the opportunity to showcase my work outside of North America, but as soon as my performance is done, I’m gonna put the computer away. The plan is to stay for a month and just do nothing but yoga, meditate and travel.
SL: I can imagine it’ll rejuvenate you for any future projects!
JL: Exactly, and my next big project is pretty exciting. I’m working with the Eric Taylor Dance Company in NYC to program a piece for the ballerinas. Movement artists have long been my favorite kind of people, so I can’t wait. It’s gonna be great.
Photo by Lianne Gagne