Bjork Tells Artists To Make Like The Military And Embrace Technology

The Music, 2 juin 2016

Ahead of the opening of the world premiere of Bjork Digital, a virtual reality project from the inimitable Icelandic powerhouse Bjork, the artist told media in a press conference that embracing technology was the only step forward for artists in this day and age.

A pioneer in many ways, Bjork said, "Like it or not, people like armies, the military, the governments, the Google, the Big Brother, whatever – everybody’s going to embrace [new technology]. So for artists to stick their head in the ground and say ‘I’m not going to’, I think that just means that there will be nothing with that craft that will have humanity and will have soul.

"It’s important for us [artists] to embrace it so we are on the same plane as the politicians and as the military and business money people."

Bjork Digital is the marriage of science, art, music, film and immersive experience that is "more theatrical than film". It’s the natural progression of art, she says : "You have the old elements like theatre, or the symphony orchestra… the rock concert, then you have the iPad, which is a certain stage," Bjork explains. "It’s this environment which I find very exciting, this pioneer universe where people still discovering things.’

Bjork’s emotionally charged album, Vulnicura, may seem intimate enough on its own — a chronological examination of heartbreak, pain and healing following the break down of her 13-year relationship with Matthew Barney. But nothing compares to the intimacy of performance from Bjork in 360-degree virtual reality — her music pulsing through noise-cancelling headphones as a fairy-like 3D imagining of the musician stands feet away from you, singing and dancing. You can walk around her, reach out to her — you and she are seemingly alone in a small, pink and black universe in the world premiere of Notget in VR.

In true Bjork style, one of the five elements of Bjork Digital is the VR experience inside her mouth — Mouth Mantra — a truly bizarre, moderately nauseating but incredibly fascinating exploration of the literal insides of the singer.

"We kind of started off filming in my mouth," explains Bjork. "I got sent to a dentist office and they put this goo in my mouth and they made a model which they then 3D printed in Japan in a bigger way, and then they made specially for this video this brand new, tiny 3D camera, and they put it inside the model and kind of waltzed around that other mouth. I’m not going to take full credit for having hosted the camera internally," she jokes. "But it is my mouth though, you get that from the shapes of the teeth."

It is more theatrical than sexual, but she acknowledges that "I don’t think it’s a coincidence that — it’s just so penetrative — that the porn industry has embraced it the way it has, it’s full of penetration ! I just thought as a musician, it’s a really exciting toy to have ; to be able to be that intimate with someone."

She speaks at length about Biophelia — a music education program she created that has featured in Scandinavian school curriculums for the past two years and shares a name with Bjork’s 2011 album — and hints at a newer version : "We’ve gathered together enough information and experience that we could make something called Biophelia 2 — it will probably be called something else — so it can become a tool, more accessible to everyone."

At the end of the exhibition Bjork will "just show off — a bit like the David Attenborough of music," during her DJ performance as she takes you through "some sort of a journey through my record collection", comprised of the music she is passionate about.

"Like, oh my god, this is a really rare 7" that only came out in three copies in Gautama," she laughs. "I’m more somebody who hunters and gathers music from all over the place."

Bjork Digital opens on 4 June until 18 June at Carriageworks as part of Vivid Sydney and is free to enter.

par Brynn Davies publié dans The Music