Björk made music’s first “VR pop album”—she opens up about its heartbreak – Ars Technica

Mourn our miraculous triangle — On VR’s doubters: “It’s a boring question. Can there be soul in technology? Yes!” Sam Machkovech – Sep 13, 2019 11: 30 am UTC Enlarge / Björk’s metamorphosis within VR already looks trippy enough as a sample image. It’ll blow your mind in VR.Björk “I often feel like some sort of [technology] bridge,” singer, songwriter, artist, and producer Björk tells me over the telephone from her home in Iceland. “I’m there in the middle, to translate nerddom to the normal people or something.” Her mix of Icelandic accent and audible excitement makes every word sound full and round as she describes her personal push-pull relationship with high-end gadgets. For decades, Björk has been renowned for layering synthesizers and electronic effects on top of her indelible singing voice to push pop music’s boundaries (not to mention music videos full of cutting-edge CGI). Professionally, she’s relished new technologies that answer her constant art-making hunch of, “someone should have invented this by now!” But in her personal life, Björk is sometimes woefully behind. She admits, for instance, that she was nearly a decade behind everyone else in her life to use systems like SMS texting and Facebook. “I like extremes,” Björk tells Ars. “I like things when they’re really acoustic—really, hairs and bones and blood and shit. And I like the extreme opposite, where the tool or the craft gets to be the queen and takes over.” Björk’s dynamic relationship with technology comes into stark relief when considering the reason she’s calling Ars Technica: a project called Vulnicura VR. This is arguably the world’s first full “VR pop album,” and it’s now available on Windows PC via Steam for $24.99. It, too, feels like a technology bridge in the middle: an experience sitting between VR’s skeptical critics and its feverish admirers. It’s equal parts approachable and wild. Grounded in nature and simple VR filmmaking tricks, the album floats into the sky in experimental fashion like a neon-scorched phoenix. In other words, it’s very, very Björk. Walk with Björk along a beach of grief Say hello to one of Björk’s VR “puppet” incarnations. (All screens in this gallery were captured from tests of the retail Vulnicura VR app.) Björk Though the motion capture is convincing and lively, Björk’s form is abstracted enough, particularly with masks and other visual effects, to dampen issues with the “uncanny valley” while in motion. Transformation is a huge motif in the best of the Vulnicura VR videos. Another VR video in the package, for the song “Family,” frequently inserts the motif of a wound in Björk’s chest. You’d be forgiven for thinking this looked like something else. I believe the metaphor in action is still quite striking, and appropriate, in an emotional-Björk manner. This marbleized form of Björk repeats in a few of the videos and also figured in other mixed-media works related to the album. Eventually, Björk extracts herself from that rock formation and floats directly into the viewer. The impact of this moment, as combined with the
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