The pioneering Icelandic queen, Bjork, has reached Somerset House in London and opened Bjork Digital. In true Bjork style, the exhibition is a rather peculiar affair. It is essentially an opportunity to experience four new virtual reality music videos, plus a couple of cinema rooms that introduce and close the VR scenes.
I am not a true fan of Bjork’s music, so like any other Bjork experience, the exhibition was a weird juxtaposition- totally mesmerised by her and not in awe of the music. I love her ability to always push the boundaries of music production – influenced by nature, fashion and art – and using technology to tinker and experiment to create weird and wonderful music moments. This exhibition doesn’t disappoint. Bjork Digital opens the door to give you a glimpse into the future of how artists may start to produce and launch their music videos and albums.
Ticketholders eagerly waited in a queue to be led in timed groups so that each VR space was experienced in sync. We began our VR journey by walking into a dark room with two cinema screens on either side. Bjork on the giant screen began using beautiful and mind-blowing graphics. The cinematic experience was followed by a sequence of four VR videos that cleverly built a crescendo, immersing you into the Icelandic shores, to Bjork’s pulsating and singing mouth, to shooting you up into space and ending onto an astonishing marching Bjork in rainbow coloured pixels.
After the last VR video, I removed my mask (or headset, it feels more like a mask) and the gallery assistant asked me, “How was that?” I said, “Oh my God, that was insane!” I must have looked like a right weirdo – I kept reaching out to try and touch and move around the Bjork goddess. The assistant grinned and said, “Yup, it’s been pretty fascinating watching people at this VR station. Everyone responds slightly differently.” I thought, ‘Cool, she’s basically politely confirmed that I looked really odd’. Calmly bringing everyone back down to earth and back to reality, the exhibition ends with a serene cinematic space playing videos from throughout the musician’s 24-year solo career. Bjork Digital is a brilliantly curated exhibition and worth a visit even if you aren’t a fan of her music.
The big question for me – is music in VR going to inject a bit of hype back into the launch of music videos and make it more of an anticipated event again? Similar to those explosive Top of the Pops Friday nights that magnetically pulled so many eyeballs to watch artists launch their new singles and videos. Yeeeeeek, imagine if we had been able to watch Michael and Janet Jackson’s ‘Scream’ in VR!