I went along to the Björk Digital show at Somerset House last night. Centred around the artist’s use of VR technology in her music videos, the exhibition also served as a retrospective of her innovative music and image-making since the start of her career.
I have to admit I hadn’t fully jumped on the VR bandwagon before the show, but this was definitely the closest I came to understanding the true immersive properties of the medium. If you have something like a Google Cardboard, or Samsung Gear, you can already experience some of the chapters, without going along to the show, as they’re available on Youtube.
Things I liked: Experiencing real landscapes and soundscapes, with a real person in them, which were then enhanced using digital manipulation. Magical. This seemed far more effective than many of the other VR spaces I have explored which have felt artificial from the outset.
I also liked how intrinsic the sense of scale became to each experience. In the picture above, for example, it was possible to move around the character and also inside it. Gradually it took on gigantic proportions right before me, spilling out light particles and occupying more of the ‘space’ we were sharing.
It goes without saying that the music and image making itself was, well, quite good.
But for me, there were a few missed opportunities. It’s probably as much a critique on the young industry right now as it is on this particular exhibition, but I felt there needed to be more focus on the ‘pre-show’; what goes on before the headsets. It’s an interesting metaphor for a lot of new technologies at the moment; we’re all caught up with using and designing for ‘the thing’ and later on we figure out how to stitch it in to the wider customer experience.
The environments within the VR were so magical it would have been great to see how lighting or set design could have expanded the spaces into the physical world as well. One experience centred around a giant neon orb in the sky, which the singer controlled and interacted with. It would have been magical to have experienced this in the room we sat in, perhaps with different start and end states.
I hope the journey to ‘future of entertainment’ isn’t going to be lots of people sitting on stools in dark rooms, but having seen this show I’m a little more excited about what will go on when we get there. It’s on until 23 October, if you can get along.