Björk in 3D, Custom Gucci and Digital Worlds

by Hetty Mahlich on 14 September 2022

Björk in 3D, a custom Gucci dress by Alessandro Michele, and breaking into new virtual horizons. We wouldn't expect anything less from a Björk music video by Nick Knight.

Björk in 3D, a custom Gucci dress by Alessandro Michele, and breaking into new virtual horizons. We wouldn't expect anything less from a Björk music video by Nick Knight.

From Jean Paul Gaultier's custom outfits for Madonna's Blonde Ambition tour in 1990, to Dua Lipa's Mugler get-up and Harry Styles' on-going Gucci partnership in 2022, the artistic and commercial ties between music and fashion have never been stronger. For Icelandic musician Björk, however, transforming her appearance has always gone beyond the realms of mere promotion, it's gone skin deep in fact; she infamously sewed a wedding dress into her skin for the Pagan Poetry video in 2001. Collaborating with artists and image-makers, Björk's album covers and music videos have shown the musician to be both a pioneering pop princess and visual world-builder. For her new song Ovule, she enlisted friend and collaborator Nick Knight to embark on an artistic endeavour which takes their previous work together into a new, utterly futuristic realm.

Nick Knight, Björk, Pagan Poetry music video still, 2001.

Excited by the 3D scanning and digital manipulation work Knight has pioneered in fashion, recently teasing his upcoming collection of NFTs featuring the Instagram star and model Jazzelle as an avatar, Björk asked the image-maker to take her likeness into the virtual realm.

Knight has 3D scanned musical icons such as Lady Gaga and Kanye West for their music videos and global tours, so naturally, he was the man for the job to 3D scan Björk and a custom dress created by Gucci for the Ocule music video. '...some visual artists I work with like Nick, for example, I have an ongoing relationship with that grows like a plant and it sort of goes where it wants to,' the musician told SHOWstudio of her collaborations back in 2003, and Ocule is the next branch of her visual transformation with Knight.

Transformation has been central to Knight and Björk's previous collaborations. The creative pair first began working together over 20 years ago, connecting over their shared appreciation for fashion as an art form, and created the iconic Homogenic album cover in 1997 of the singer as a global citizen and artist. Then came the otherworldly editorial shoot Red for AnOther magazine in 2015 featuring handmade masks which appeared to grow from Björk's skin, a sculptural disguise for Volta, and a scene of Björk and her partner making love abstracted by a digital filter for Pagan Poetry. Having previously launched a virtual reality exhibit and featured robots in the music video for All is Full of Love, looking towards a new world full of future beings is part of the lexicon of Björk's self-expression through moving image.

Nick Knight, Björk, Homogenic album cover, 1997.

'When I work with visual artists, I'm more giving them clues of what I'm going through musically, emotionally and sonically at any given moment. They each in their own way will then interpret that into a visual image. I do have very different relationships with different visual artists that ranges all the way from me providing all the visual ideas to simply just being a muse', Björk told us in her 2003 interview. Today, Knight explains that the song acts as the brief when it comes to his on-going collaborations with the musician. 'The song is the story. Here, it's about perfection and then reality, the darkness and despair underneath that.'

The first verse of Ocule opens:

i have placed 
a glass egg
above us floating 
oval ovule 
in a dark blood red void
carries our digital selves 
embracing kissing 

Knight's accompanying music video traces the lyrics of the song from a nirvana state of mind to one of darkness, and draws on these aformentioned oval and blood forms, together with the digital self. For the image-maker, the key was to create an emotional response to the song, rather than a linear, logical one. 'Ovule', which is defined as the part of the ovary of seed plants that contains the female germ cell and after fertilization becomes the seed played a part in the circular, viscous red liquid forms which mutate throughout the video; at one point Björk is rebirthed from a silver pool of water. Five tonnes of earth were also tipped onto a spinning Björk, wearing the said one-of-a-kind Gucci dress. For Knight, nothing is off limits.

I want to portray Björk as a woman with emotional depth - Nick Knight
Nick Knight, Björk, 'Ovule', music video still, 2022.

'I always try and take her out of the space she's in, like with Pagan Poetry.' Knight explains. Having distorted footage of Björk making love to her partner by running it through a digital filter and inviting an illustrator to apply undulating lines to the film for Pagan Poetry, for Ovule, the image-maker enlisted Tom Wandrag for A New Plane to envision Björk in 3D. Also using motion capture technology, the musician mutates into egg and fallopian tube-like forms which play on the idea of ovule and ovulation. Björk crosses between footage shot in the studio and a fully digital world. 'There's the film version of her, and the CGI version of her. There's almost a contained idea of digital DNA, for me, in the forms throughout this video', Knight explains. 'I want to portray Björk as a woman with emotional depth.'

The Making Of a Gucci Gown for Björk

Explore

Video

Music Video: Pagan Poetry

02 October 2001
Watch Nick Knight's video for Björk's 2001 single 'Pagan Poetry'.
Interview

Interview: Eugene Souileiman for Biophilia by Bjork and Inez and Vinoodh

01 April 2016
Hair stylist Eugene Souleiman discusses working with Inez and Vinoodh on Björk’s Biophilia album cover from 2011.
Interview

Interview: Björk

24 October 2003
Icelandic pop princess and progressive image-maker Björk sat down with Penny Martin to answer questions from SHOWstudio viewers. Broadcast 24 October 2003
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