Somerset House is hosting the European premiere of Björk Digital. The Virtual Reality (VR) exhibition is an extraordinary collaboration between Björk and a number of world-renowned visual artists and programmers, but the exhibition ends on the 23rd October, so get in quick.
SEEN has a renewed love, respect and admiration for this astonishing artist. In true Björk style, she is incredibly courageous. The exhibition challenges the viewer both visually and emotionally. Björk does not shy away from revealing her nipples, the depths of her suffering, or her quirky take on life.
The onus of this whole exhibition is clearly the unique collaboration between music and technology, which encourages the viewer to engage with her work in an unimaginable way. The technological artistry of VR allows for a powerful artist like Björk to create even more intensity, thus heightening the emotional experience of her music. So often, her work as an avant-garde artist has been misunderstood, because all her weirdness and intensity has sometimes been difficult to handle over the years, yet SEEN fully experienced the connection that Björk has so vehemently sought out with her fans. The music, her lyrics, the visual symbolism and her pain was agonisingly felt. SEEN was moved to tears.
‘Black Lake’, Björk’s ground-breaking immersive film, directed by filmmaker Andrew Thomas Huang, was filmed against the stark backdrop of the highlands of Iceland. We were treated to a panoramic experience of Björk’s pain; ‘Stonemilker’, from her critically acclaimed album Vulnicura, is also a collaboration between Huang and Björk. It’s an extraordinary VR experience which transports the viewer to a remote Icelandic beach. Fully viewable in 360 degrees, the viewer can look up, down and all around to take in the landscape; ‘Mouthmantra’ is a somewhat surreal VR ride. It’s a collaboration with director Jesse Kanda, in which the footage is shot from the inside her mouth as Björk sings, making her teeth and tongue look utterly bizarre; ‘Quicksand’, a song about forgiveness and healing allows for a fully immersive experience, watching sand being poured into her mouth. An astonishing mask and light entrails create another awesome VR 360 degree experience; ‘Notget’ is directed by Warren Du Preez & Nick Thornton Jones. This piece took SEEN by surprise somewhat. We’re not often deterred by challenging approaches in art, but SEEN suddenly felt uncomfortable with the proximity of the creation. It was, as they say, “right in your face”. The stunning mask creations most definitely deserve their own mention too – James Merry takes centre stage as he moves into the limelight with these incredible designs.
The final stage of the exhibition was the cinema room: simply a space to watch Björk’s greatest videos on a big screen with surround sound, what more could you ask for? Ahead of the tech curve as ever, Somerset House’s ground-breaking exhibition confirms Björk’s position as one of the most important musicians working today.