SOUND CAFFEINE: Bjork Digital at Somerset House

SOUND CAFFEINE: Bjork Digital at Somerset House in London. Image Amplified
Bjork Digital at Somerset House

Bjork Digital is at Somerset House in London, where we spent a few Labor Day hours taking in a number of the singer’s virtual reality films, musical instruments, and the Biophilia music app. The exhibit features the film Black Lake, as well as Stonemilker, Mouthmantra and Notget, which are set out in a number of rooms in which we’re asked to sit on revolving stools, strap on the vr gear and immerse ourselves in Bjork’s music and collaborative visuals.

Bjork is an artist who often requires designated time to appreciate and digest. I appreciated such an opportunity provided by the digital exhibit. Her vision is rich, and incongruent with most of what is happening in pop culture. To have a few hours to engage with Bjork’s creativity was refreshing yet challenging.

Black Lake is impactful, with Bjork projecting both strength and vulnerability. Mouth mantra confronts us with an intense, immersive look from the inside of Bjork’s mouth. The impact of swirling imagery of teeth and tongue is immediate. We are too close. This is too graphic, but this is also closest we will ever get to the origin of Bjork’s voice. In Army of Me, we see that Bjork’s mouth is where her preciously guarded diamond originates. Mouthmantra, then, could be a demonstration of generosity. With Notget, Bjork floats directly in front of viewer’s face. For this one we stand as we watch, emphasising both a sense of challenge, but also the importance of scale. In this video, Bjork is transformed by her experience with heartbreak, and she’s not afraid to tell us with what she’s learned. She begins as small, but is soon towering over our heads.

Can we comprehend what she’s learned? Not instantly. Bjork Digital, as barebones as it seems before strapping on the headgear, is filled with work that needs to be experienced in layers. We ended our visit sitting on the floor, watching several of her music videos, and then heading off to play with some of her specially designed music instruments. It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed by the expansiveness of both Bjork’s career and her point of view, equally. Fortunately, the uniqueness of her work has shielded it from the passing of time. It feels vibrant, visceral, and innovative.


From Somerset House:

Björk Digital

1 September – 23 October 2016

Open daily
11.00 – 20.00 Monday – Friday (last admission 19.00)
11.00 – 18.00 Saturday & Sunday (last admission 17.00)
Please arrive 15 minutes before your session. Latecomers will not be admitted
New Wing
£15.00/ £12.50 concessions

BOOK TICKETS NOW or call 0844 844 0444 (booking with Ticketmaster, calls will cost 7p per minute plus your network access charge)

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An immersive virtual reality exhibition from Icelandic icon Björk.

Somerset House is thrilled to announce the European premiere of Björk Digital, an exhib­ition of digital and video works, resulting from Björk’s collaborations with some of the finest visual artists and programmers in the world and coinciding with a special performance at the Royal Albert Hall.

Björk constantly and consistently challenges the status quo, pushing the boundaries of what is possible in music, art and technology. The exhibition at Somerset House invites visitors to engage with her work through the latest in virtual reality (VR) technology. Björk believes that by offering a private theatrical experience, VR provides a unique way to connect with her audiences.

The exhibition will include Black Lake, Björk’s groundbreaking immersive film commissioned by the New York’s Museum of Modern Art where the audience is treated to panoramic visuals and enveloped by a bespoke, cutting edge surround-sound system. Filmed in the highlands of Iceland, the work was directed by the Los Angeles-based filmmaker Andrew Thomas Huang. Huang also collaborated with Björk on Stonemilker VR, a project that transports the viewer to a private performance of the first track from Björk’s critically acclaimed Vulnicura album. Shot on location on a remote, windswept beach in Iceland and viewable in full 360-degree VR, the viewer will be able to experience a one-to-one recital.

In Mouthmantra VR, Björk worked with director Jesse Kanda to capture intense footage from inside her mouth whilst she sings the title track, her teeth and tongue twisting and seemingly taking on a life of their own. Meanwhile, Notget VR, directed by Warren Du Preez and Nick Thornton Jones, presents Björk as a digital moth giantess transformed by stunning masks created by artist James Merry.

As part of the European premiere of Björk Digital, Björk will hold two special concert performances in London in September. These are her only UK shows this year and her first London shows since her acclaimed sold out Biophilia show in the round at Alexandra Palace in 2013.

Somerset House’s edition of the Björk Digital exhibition will include never-before-seen work by Björk. There will also be an interactive educational space which showcases the innovative apps and custom-made musical instruments from Biophilia, an app created by Björk that explores music, nature and technology. A programme of Björk’s extensive video work will run alongside the exhibition, spanning the artist’s 24-year career during which she has collaborated with film directors including the award winning Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry, Nick Knight and Stephane Sedanaoui.

Bjork Digital Exhibition at Somerset House is supported by
Intel, AMD, HTC, Bowers and Wilkins and Barco Iosono.

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