Björk Digital @ Carriageworks Blew My F’n Mind

Vivid Festival in Sydney attracts tourists, musicians, and artists from around the world for an annual spectacle that brings about 2 million people into the CBD every May/June. With hundreds of light exhibits, concerts, events, and installations it’s absolutely heckers and a total art explosion in the city. Given how much is going on, Björk Digital, Björk’s incredible virtual reality premiere is sort of tucked away at the culture haven known as Carriageworks and is remarkably easy to attend FOC.

I saw Björk’s face at the bottom right of a Time Out newsletter which provided a timely reminder to register for my exhibit time slot, 3:30 PM on Friday afternoon, just perfect enough to fake a meeting and bail early for the weekend. I made my way to Carriageworks where I congregated with a group of 10-12 people and waited quietly (I chatted up some chicks in line obvs) for the exhibit to begin.

I knew nothing of the exhibit nor had I read up on the artist’s previous museum contributions such as her tribute to Alexander McQueen, so I went in with a clean and empty mind.

The exhibit is one that needs to be seen and felt individually so I’ll be concise with my observations. There were four parts to the experience:

Room One: 

Björk’s ‘Black Lake’ video playing on opposing movie screens in a smallish horizontal room filled with pulsating speakers emanating different layers of the track respectively. According to Björk’s program explanation, the room was meant to simulate the environment in which the music was conceived, a dim claustrophobic-ish space.

 

Room Two:

The virtual reality begins with a sweet serenade of ‘Stonemilker’ from Björk on a rocky Icelandic beach. Sun shining, waves crashing, you can stare into Björk’s eyes or turn away and watch the waves. Bjork’s world, your choice. It was beautiful. Imagine walking around freely in the video below with 360 degrees of visibility. That’s what it was.

Room Three: 

Best described by the girl who was running this station on the day. When the virtual reality experience ended she said “I hope you enjoyed being a piece of gum.” That comment crystallised it for me. You’re a piece of gum in Björk’s mouth for about 6 minutes. It’s called Mouth Mantra by Jesse Kanda and it looked like this, but remember in virtual reality!

 

Room Four: 

This was so cool..  the VR was Notget by Warren du Preez and Nick Thornton Jones.

You’re in a seemingly dark part of the universe with pink and yellow light particles about. Initially you can only see a silhouette of Bjork’s head and an incredible gold yellow crown singing hauntingly, but soon, more particles arrive to eventually form a body with legs and arms. A technicolor rain flurry of light energy particles in the shape of Björk for you to interact with, walk through, stand inside.

     Check out this piece Warren du Preez and Nick Thornton Jones to get a proper idea of the magic they’re capable of:

Difficult to properly explain.. an event that needs to be individually experienced.. but my brain grew. Thanks Björk, thanks Vivid, thanks Carriageworks.

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