Björk’s been touring the exhibit, Björk Digital, in select cities around the world. At the press preview in London in advance of the opening of the show at the Somerset House, Björk did not appear in physical form, but rather as a digitized motion-capture Björk avatar — and you’ll be happy to know that digibjörk’s garb is even wilder than normalbjörk’s. You’ll also potentially either be unsettled by the uncanny valley-ishness of the digibjörk — which looks like Björk, moves like Björk, utters Björk’s actual words (her voice is unfiltered, and it’s beamed live), yet whose expression remains static — or swept away by the idea of an artist being able to design their own media presence. As Rolling Stone notes, she was beamed in from Reykjavik, with the help of a Unity 3D game engine. “I see myself as someone who builds bridges between the human things we do every day, and technology,” the Guardian reported her saying. That bridge, it seemed, was quite literal at the press preview.
Björk shared part of “her” talk, in which she discusses utopianism — which she’s said will be part of the thematic core of her next album, the follow-up to the incremental heartbreak album, Vulnicura — technological advances, and her ideas about optimism versus pessimism, on Facebook, and you can watch it below.
Her interviewer noted that she’d said that Vulnicura was a “representation of hell,” and that her next album would be more about optimism. Saying that she was oversimplifying, she spoke in highly poetic terms about how pessimists “actually [attract] a lot of dark stuff and [surround] themselves with a lot of black mud in every sense of the word” while “if you [instead] focus on the light, after a while all the seeds you’ve sown have become plants [and] you might be surrounded by fertility and light.” She said, however, that neither mode of being is right or wrong, but that “it’s important to be determined about the light, to be intentional about it.” (On Vulnicura, one of her biggest digs at former partner Matthew Barney was being tired of his “apocalyptic obsessions,” and perhaps the dichotomies she found there between fetishizing darkness and seeking light play into her new album.)
The exhibit itself is a work-in-progress, where at different stops along its tour different videos are being added until every song from Vulnicura is accompanied a virtual reality video experience — becoming a full VR album. The Guardian‘s coverage of the event quoted Björk discussing why the separate visual experience for each song worked so well for that album:
There is something about the drama in Vulnicura that I am almost embarrassed about because it is so over the top…The visual side of Vulnicura has been a very slow plan … I think emotionally it really works because heartbreak is the oldest human story of all, so it could take this experimentation. Each song has a different format and a different director. I think that helps because the story is mainly just me moaning, and the instrumentation is always the same, just strings and beats. So to get different points of view with different directors and different technology … I think it suits the project really well.