Björk Digital runs from May 19 to June 4 in downtown LA.
Since kicking off her digital exhibition tour in Sydney over a year ago, Björk is bringing her traveling immersive exhibit closer to home. The Icelandic music icon’s next stop after traveling the globe with her VR album is finally right here in Los Angeles.
In partnership with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, you can try this multi-room experience for yourself from May 19 to June 4 at Magic Box in The Reef Los Angeles. The Björk Digital exhibition includes digital and virtual reality music video works from the artist’s latest album, Vulnicura.
I was able to get a first look at the LA exhibition before opening and can honestly say it’s one of the best VR art experiences you can visit right now. Björk has worked with a collection of world-renowned directors, programmers, and visual artists to create a series of VR works displayed throughout a series of rooms. Each of these rooms has their own level of immersion, progressively getting stronger as you move through the series.
The journey begins in the exhibit lobby with a simple tablet and headphones, listening to a few tracks off her album along with interactive 3D art. Then you are ushered to the second room where you get introduced to Black Lake VR. Commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art, Black Lake VR is a 2D 360° projection room featuring a 50 speaker surround sound setup that creates a visceral 360° experience. Filmed in the highlands of Iceland, the video was directed by Andrew Thomas Huang.
As you continue moving up the immersive ladder, the next two rooms include 24 swivel chairs each with a Gear VR and headphones. For many of the attendees, this is likely their first time trying VR. And what better way to start off then by diving into Björk’s classic Stonemilker VR experience. Filmed on a remote beach location in Iceland, Stonemilker VR was the first 360° music video from Björk’s Vulnicura album.
The next Gear VR room included two new VR music videos, Quicksand VR and Mouthmantra VR. More intense than Stonemilker, I could see how the exhibit curators were trying to progress guests slowly into each VR experience one after the other. Mouthmantra VR is the more fierce of the two pieces, transporting you to the inside Björk’s mouth for an intense and intimate experience as she sings the video’s title track.
Graduating from the Gear VR headset experiences, you are then taken to a massive room filled with two-person VR booths for the climax of the exhibition. Broken off into pairs, each standing booth includes HTC Vive headsets tethered to the ceiling. You start off with Family VR, the centerpiece in the VR anthology for Vulnicura, encapsulating the full emotional arc of Björk’s journey from despair to empowerment. It’s a beautiful piece that makes use of your hand controllers. As you wave in them in the air, streamers caress the 3D space, dancing to the beat of the music.
The final experience is Notget VR, which presents Björk as a stunning digital moth giantess transformed by masks. Visually stunning in every way, you couldn’t help but dance in place. I can only assume my partner standing next to me in the booth was doing the same.
When all was said and done, the full Vulnicura VR treatment lasted close to 90-minutes. An unforgettable series of immersion and emotion, I can only imagine what first-time VR users must have taken away from the entire trip.
What Björk has created with her traveling digital exhibition is the beginning of what music experiences and entertainment may look like in the future. A prelude to the next generation of concerts. A standard to how artists may release albums. And if the future of music albums all include entire VR albums like this to go along with it, then take me to the future already —i’m ready.
Tickets are still available for the exhibition and will run you $35. In conjunction with Björk Digital, Björk will also make her Walt Disney Concert Hall debut, performing with a 32-piece string orchestra in a sold-out concert conducted by Bjarni Frímann Bjarnason on May 30.