Review: Björk Digital at Somerset House

Juxtaposed with the grand buildings of Somerset House, Björk Digital feels like a daring and unapologetic exploration of virtual reality from the Icelandic icon.

The exhibition sets the scene in a dark room with a duel aspect panoramic vision of Björk’s Black Lake commissioned by the New York’s Museum of Modern Art. It starkly introduces the concept of her album Vulcanara, reflecting her recent heartbreak after separating from Matthew Barney.  The surround sound is high quality and all encompassing, raising goosebumps and tugging on heartstrings before spitting out visitors to a roller coaster of VR films.

The exhibition flows curiously from room to room, as visitors are perched on rotating stools with helmet-like headsets and Bowers & Wilkins headphones, while immersing themselves in unreleased films for tracks on the new album.  With a 360-degree view on each film, the content moves around the space, encouraging you to swivel and engage with the scene whilst feeling addressed by Björk herself. Just like her lyrics, the imagery is vivid, often literal, the most striking being Mouthmantra which is shot from within Bjork’s mouth whilst she is singing.

For the final piece you are taken into a curtained off space in pairs to be greeted with headphones dangling from the ceiling in anticipation. The film reveals a robot-like walking, growing digital diagram of Bjork who appears to walk in front of you, splashing pixels in your face, demanding your attention, before visitors are led back to reality via a cinema room playing Björk videos on rotation in good old 2D.

This is an exhibition for all fans of Björk. We don’t learn about history, but instead look forward with an intimate view of beautiful unreleased footage, falling deeper and deeper into an understanding of her wonderful (virtual) world.

Björk Digital is at Somerset House until 23 October.