So as part of my studies at the University of Iceland, there is a website/part journal for the Arts & Humanities faculty student called SIRKUSTJALDIÐ. It’s not been going for long (A little over a year), but the point of the site is to foster and develop critical debate among the students there. Actually get them to use some of dat der theory we’re stuffing in our craniums outside of the classroom.
I was asked if I could perhaps do some writing for them. And I’ve written a couple of pieces for them. alas you can’t seem them yet as it’s an Icelandic site and therefore all my essays have to be translated (I really do feel for them on that score, especially if I went all beat-cyberpunk poetry on them!).
For my first essay, I wrote a piece about our resident Iceland Queen Banshee, BJÖRK, and her current album Vulnicura. the thing is that I don’t actually talk about the music as such. It’s not that I think that the music is bad. Actually it’s really good, but I personally found the whole theme of her doing a “breakup” album to be the least interesting part of the whole release. instead I riffed for 2000 words on the imagery of the album art and the video trailer to her MoMA retrospective, noting the aesthetic similarities with her ’90s explorations re: Trans-and-posthumanism, and techno-hybridisation (digital liquid flesh, etc, etc). I also noted the connections with today internet aesthetic tribes from PC music to Health goth, and how they are have an affinity in that they are also mining ’90s digiculture aesthetics, something that she was doing the first time around. Instead of a situation of an artist latching onto the cool kids in a bid to stay relevant, it’s more like the other way round. She’s their internet mother hen basically. If you’ve ever heard her mix that she recently did with Tri-Angle records on Rinse FM, she was dropping stuff that was waaaaay more current and forward-looking that what most parochial fools round here would even bother listening to.
So hopefully people will enjoy the essay when it eventually comes out (I’ll post it here in English), but while we’re waiting, Björk has dropped two music videos to accompany the album. So what I’m writing here is a bit of a epil-prologue (is that even a thing?).
The first one is for the track “Lionsong.” This has Björk in her “fetish cyborg” form alluded to in the images from her digital rush-release. You’ve got a chest (her own presumably) wrapped tight and heaving, throbbing, and squirming underneath, a shiny casing, while we see Björk moving and twirling in front of the camera. As well as the shiny, smooth surfaces that come from her body suit, what is interesting is the cloudy wisps of light that constantly surround her. they seem to act like a mix of aura, pollen release and digital bio-electric fields. It looks great tbh. Slippery emotions when wet.
And then along came the second video, this time for “Family.” Now this one is a different kettle of shiny fish, taking its cure from the “exploding digiflesh” art for the physical release. the beginning seem to show the Björk “statue” at night. You can definitely see the kinship with the visual textures of Arca/Jesse Kanda’s videos – a mix of glistening metallic planes and melted plastic, luminous, yet weirdly artificial. We eventually see Björk statue as a rocky crop being reanimated by some kind of Gel. She then proceeds to mend the gaping hole in her heart with beads and augmented reality thread before emerging chrysalis-like from her shell, reborn. Compared to the previous video, it’s definitely way more ambitious in her thinking. Ideas of rebirth, nature, and inorganic materials coming together in a rather coherent yet ambitious way.