Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Premiere of Bjork's new video, Wanderlust

Percent of Bjork's Icelandic accent that she has retained in these years spent in the States: 100.
Times I made eye contact with her: 0.
Times I tried hard to make eye contact with her: 2.
Times I felt creepy for trying so hard to make eye contact with her: 2.
Times Bjork was honored with one of this year's Icelandic Music Awards: 2

Yes, I promised there would be Martha today. I am very, very sorry. Next week. For real.

I picked up on the rumor that there was a guerrilla screening of a new Bjork video. Since this meant I could join a small number of people who were tangentially involved in the creation of a short video segment that will later debut to the public, I deemed this worthy of a post. First, the song, Wanderlust. As performed at the Coachella music festival last year:

For starters, all I knew going in was this flyer on her website:

It was accompanied by the text "If you can't attend this one, there will be one more screening: on Friday, March 14 at 7pm in the Kaufmann Auditorium, American Museum of Natural History in NYC." And it was there that we went.

As is a consistent theme with this blog, we waited outside for maybe an hour before being ushered in. Apparently they planned on only one video screening/Q&A session, but enough people showed that they had to do the whole process twice. Buzz was running high amongst the people in line with me. "I mean, come on, it's Bjork," said one hip chick behind me. "We shouldn't go in with any preconceived notions. I'll almost be surprised if she doesn't shower us with whipped cream as we enter."

We weren't showered with any foodstuffs; however, we were handed 3-D glasses (the clear kind, not the one-eye-red, one-eye-blue kind) as we entered.

We were greeted by a man who I think was Greg Dinkins, the head of the New York Stereoscopic Society. These people are crazy about 3-D glasses and the things you see with them. They just eat 'em up! With the risk of hyperbole duly noted, I think this presumed Mr. Dinkins was the most awkward public speaker I've seen in my life. A sample.

"Well. We're here to see... this... video. It's an incredible... work. Thanks for joining us at... this... um... auditorium. In the museum. You probably want to... uh... see the video... soon."

And so on. Then a gentleman with an Appalachian accent, one not dissimilar to that heard in my native land, jumped up on stage and asked everyone to put on their glasses and hold still. He wanted to take our picture.

I tapped the woman in front of me on the shoulder. "This is the place to see the new Bjork video, right?" I whispered.

"I think so," she said.

I don't know if I'll ever see the photo, but I'm confident it looks just like the picture on the right.

I originally posted Michel Gondry's video for Bjork's Human Behavior as an example of what the Wanderlust video looks like. I've replaced it "Knife" by Grizzly Bear, as the Encyclopedia Pictura guys said it's what drew Bjork to them in the first place. Personally, I find Grizzly Bear's music on the boring side, despite indie rock's most pretentious tastemakers arguing otherwise and the fact that its singer is a very entertaining interviewee. Knife is a far more interesting video than song, in my opinion.

Wanderlust is like that, except it stars Bjork, it's even cooler, has a good song, and is in 3-D. It's eventually going to be available in 2-D form on the internets eventually.

The plot of the Wanderlust video:

Bjork is somewhere in a bright forest that's defined by mountains and rivers. A god who looks like Bjork creates new river paths by scraping her/his hand across mossy dirt. (Picture a child messing up a birthday cake.) Also, Bjork is friends with a number of cool-looking buffalo (see that promo photo above). These buffalo can float and don't mind Bjork riding them down the river. She floats along swimmingly.

Then, all of a sudden, Bjork's backpack sprouts arms and legs! And a head! It's a Pain-Body, that physical manifestation of the dissatisfaction that results from equating self with ego and body, as described by respected-as-much-as-a-New-Age-spiritual-guru-can-be Eckhart Tolle! Oh no! Bjork's gonna have to fight that Pain-Body by doing tons of flips on that buffalo! Is she gonna do a ton of flips while riding that buffalo down the river? She is!

I won't spoil the ending, but I will say this: we end up meeting a different god, one of the river, who acts as midwife to a certain Icelandic pop-star after she's swallowed by the river/birth canal. Got it?

After they showed the eight-minute video, which received thunderous applause, Mr. Dinkin invited the three principal filmmakers (two from Encyclopedia Pictura and one from Ghost Robot, all from San Francisco) came up for some Q&A.

"Actually, guys, you didn't need to come up here," Dinkin said as they came up there after he called them up there. "I've got microphones and they're wireless. You can go back to your seat."

The three guys looked at each other. "Well, we're here now," one of them said.

"But you can go to where you were and stand if you want," Dinkin said. "If you want."

"This way, everyone can see us," said another filmmaker. "I think we'll stand here."

Dinkin processed this for a minute. "Okay. You can stay there."

Then they entertained questions for nearly an hour. My favorite exchange was with a middle-aged blond woman. She asked:

"So, that was an Eckhart Tolle Pain-Body back there?"


"Do you think the American populace is going to realize what you were going for?"


But almost all of the other questions were in the parlance of the stereoscopic nerd and sounded something like this:

"Were your anaglyphs achieved with a bipolar medulla oblongata rig, or did you wing it with a cavernous Sally?"

As my interest in this kind of dialogue waned, another event popped up to compete with my attention. Slowly at first, and then more and more apparent, were races being held by two young girls. Up an aisle they would rush, then down that aisle. Each time they got a little more vocal. Finally someone asked what it was like working with Bjork. Then, like something from a dream, she rose out of the audience, where she had been sitting like a commoner. She came to the stage, clasping the smaller girl in her arms as she went. She is a magnetic woman. And the girls were her daughters.

"I'd like to thak awl of sees people involved. They had so much passion. They showed so much harrdth."

They showed the video again, and again it received massive applause. Bjork asked everyone who was involved with the production to stand, as who knew when they'd all be in the same room together?

More than half the audience stood. But that didn't diminish the value of that applause, in my book. Not one bit.

Next week: Martha. I promise, I promise, I promise.

I leave you with Michel Gondry solving a Rubik's Cube with his nose.

No comments: