Since releasing Vulnicura in 2015, Björk has been unfurling several multimedia appendages, like the immersive NotGet VR audiovisual experience, the VR film Family, and the VR music video for "Stonemilker." In her latest music video, "notget," premiering today on Creators, frequent collaborators Warren Du Preez and Nick Thornton Jones help Björk mark her metamorphosis from grief to transcendence on Vulnicura's sixth track. The video, with its contrasting black-and-white and colorful halves, is like the song itself: an asphyxiation that mutates into a colorful and verdant breakthrough. The first half can be thought of as a moving portrait, which evolves into a performance piece in the second half.
"Björk definitely wanted more of a claustrophobic, confined environment, and to then be able to switch that up," Thornton Jones tells Creators via Skype. "The switch to elation was very much driven by how she wants to see things."
The core of "notget," which makes its debut in celebration of the finale of Björk Digital in LA, surrounds two masks, created by James Merry, that symbolize the video's two halves. Thornton Jones recalls that Björk's idea for the first part of the video being an atmosphere of "biological goth," which resulted in the Icelandic artist wearing a black dress and mask, standing amidst a moving field of black organic matter.
"It's bruised, dark, ominous, and mysterious, and it's a play on the future and the past with mineralistic elements," adds Du Preez. "We made the decision to submerge it into almost what we almost call an inner earth or into a place that could house that decay and bruising."
To create that bio-goth terra, set designer Joseph Bennett layered dozens of black garbage bags on a backdrop, then blew fans at them to create a sense of motion, which cinematographer John Mathieson enhanced with light. South African CGI and visual effects collective Wicked Pixels then augmented these practical sets with CG animation.
"Nick and Warren supplied us with these beautiful animated ink blobs and other things," says Wicked Pixels Creative Director Gavin Coetzee. "We found a way to map this onto a 3D object and use some displacement maps and cloth simulations to generate that dark, moving organic environment."
Wicked Pixels generated the biological mask growths by messing around with different kinds of fur textures in 3D. They also enhanced the masks with digital wires that could grow and animate on top of the existing ones.
The conceptual pivot to elation and extravagance in the song's second half inspired Du Preez and Thornton Jones to charge the second mask with light. The mask itself is a neon yellow-green, while the crown and top of Björk's head are illuminated with blue, plant-like organisms that burst like spores and grow in a generative way.
"It was magical opportunity to implement that which we ordinarily are only able to use as experiments," adds Wicked Pixels' Craig Wessels. "Warren and Nick came up with some lovely references and points of departure, which we were then given freedom to basically explore, and I think that's where we were able to turn a lot of abstract thoughts presented to us into something tangible and visible."
Below, take an exclusive look at moodboard and behind-the-scenes images from "notget":
Directed by Warren Du Preez & Nick Thornton Jones
Creative direction & masks by Björk & James Merry
CGI & VFX Creative by Wicked Pixels
Produced by Campbell Beaton
2D Flame by Framestore London
D.O.P. - John Mathieson
Editor - Owen Oppenheimer @ The Quarry
Colorist - Simona Cristea @ Rushes
Production Design - Josephe Bennett
Make up - Andrew Gallimore @ CLM
Hair - Martin Cullen @ Streeters
Special Thanks: Jos Capper, Rachael Taylor, Tom Brannigan, Renderstorm, & AMD