Iconic Icelandic singer, Bjork, has been making music for over 30 years, and in that time has collaborated with some of the world’s best filmmakers, visual artists and programmers to push, and sometimes blur, the boundaries of art. A few days ago, Björk brought her 2015 album, Vulnicura, to virtual reality. The songs have been put to immersive VR experiences that take you into her avant-garde world and envelop you fully.
The VR album is available on Steam for many VR headsets and while I have not purchased it yet, it does look an intriguing prospect. I engaged with some of these VR experiences when I went to the Bjork Exhibition three years ago and was incredibly impressed with what I saw. Here is what I said at the time:
Stonemilker places you in the 360 degree landscape of Grótta beach in Iceland. Bjork sings the song and during the course of the video multiplies, at one time there are three Bjork's singing! The detail is impressive and even though the technology showcased is quite old the effect is wonderful as you feel very close to Bjork physically as she sings and sashays to her lyrics and music. This is the closest most of us will ever get to the pioneering musician.
Mouth Mantra is a VR video again and has the same technical set-up as for Stonemilker but is a very different experience, placing you inside Bjork’s mouth. The VR video shows very white teeth, no fillings and lots of tonsil and tongue... I was fine watching this but I can imagine some people really struggling with this.
This VR experience was the highlight of the exhibition for me. Using a real-time graphics engine the image of a glowing orange mask with decorative lines sings, as the song progresses a body starts to emerge and starts to shoot out neon sparks. It reminded me of the patterns found in a Cave bullet hell shoot'em up video game mixed with the visuals of the video game Rez and the entrancing quality of a Sharon Apple concert from Macross Plus. This VR experience shows the potential this medium can have, the music dynamically changing as you moved. This experience really immersed me and I can see the possibilities of VR concerts.
This re-release of Vulnicura has all seven tracks with full VR visuals including:
Black Lake, and
At £15, this is not an impulse purchase but then again, if you’re a Bjork fan or want to see where VR could go next with its use in music videos it would be ideal. Check it out if you can as it seems like Bjork is pushing boundaries again.