If you didn’t have your ear to the ground during the ‘80s and ’90s to know about Icelandic rock band The Sugarcubes and their lead singer Björk, and if you didn’t keep up with her nine-album solo career, perhaps she is only a name to you because she wore a swan dress to the 2001 Academy Awards when she was nominated for Best Original Song for Lars von Trier’s 2000 film Dancer in the Dark, in which she also had a starring role.
Perhaps she is known to you as an eccentric singer/songwriter/composer who produces enigmatic music videos. What you might not know, however, is within the past few years Björk’s vision has increasingly held a visual arts, digital, and now virtual reality component, beginning with her 2011 record Biophilia, originally released as a series of smartphone apps.
In 2015, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City presented a retrospective of Björk’s two decade-plus career, capped by Black Lake, a commissioned work dubbed as an immersive film, directed by Andrew Thomas Huang. That film will be shown at Houston winter music festival Day For Night (December 17-18 at the former Barbara Jordan Post Office, 401 Franklin, which is now owned by Lovett Commercial). It’s part of a five-room “digital experience” encompassing all that is Bjork Digital.
– Stonemilker VR, also directed by Huang, a film of a performance of the first song (“Stonemilker”) from Björk’s acclaimed 2015 album, Vulnicura, shot at a beach in Iceland and viewable in 360-degree VR.
– Moutmantra VR, a collaboration with director Jesse Kanda, capturing footage from inside her mouth and teeth as she sings the title track.
– Notget VR, directed by Warren Du Preez and Nick Thornton Jones, presenting Bjork as a digital moth and “giantess,” transformed by masks created by James Merry.
Day For Night co-founder and arts curator Alex Czetwertynski says, “Our intention is to bring together talents that fearlessly cross over multiple fields and blur the lines between media.” The Björk Digital experience has made stops at London’s Somerset House and in Montreal, but never has this series of VR films (all inspired by her Vulnicura record) and five-room installation been seen in the U.S., signaling a huge “get” for the music and arts festival in just its second year.
Other artists this year include United Visual Artists, out of London, who work with sculpture, installations, and live performance, and the return of Paris-based duo Nonotak, who are creating a site-specific version of their Shiro piece, which doubles as a stage for live performance.
Watch the trailer for Bjork’s 2015 immersive film commissioned by the MoMA, Black Lake:
Musical headliners at Day for Night will include Aphex Twin, Björk (in DJ sets and live performance), Travis Scott, and Blood Orange. Tickets are available here.