Björk: her best videos at the apex of digital art

The 12 greatest Björk promos of all time, taking us all the way from the Moon to the Moomins via VFX and animation mastery.

With her third decade in music as a solo artist coming to an end, and the long-awaited arrival of Vulnicura VR and the Cornucopia live experience, Digital Arts looks back over the massive Björk videography to find the best examples of VFX/CGI mastery, stop-motion wonder and animated delights.

Björk's music promos have always been a source of creative inspiration, making use of the latest techniques and best creative talents to show what great software and minds are truly capable of on a big budget (and minimal record company interference.)

Fans of the singer can check out her latest visual project in our review and feature on Vulnicura VR; they can also engage with us on social media to debate our choices of Björk's best ever music videos to date. Our top twelve rundown starts with two promos from the art-pop legend's seventh album, Biophilia.

12. Mutual Core

Björk began the decade transforming into her current 'digital pagan' persona with album and corresponding app Biophilia.

The video for 2011's Mutual Core is the first collaboration between the singer and Andrew Thomas Huang, showing the director's mastery of colour and CGI which continues to this day.

The rock spasms and eruptions that appear when the track gets harder are delightful, somehow appearing wholly organic as the land moves in time with the beat.

11. Crystalline

His promo is best described as a ravey 21st century update on Georges Méliès and The Clangers.

10. Wanderlust

Directed by Isaiah Saxon and Sean Hellfritsch of Encyclopedia Pictura, this MV predates Biophilia's techno-fetish by marking Björk's first foray into 3D.

Taken from the Timbaland-featuring Volta LP, 2008's Wanderlust has some memorable CG creatures and an unmistakable Where the Wild Things Are vibe.

9. Hunter

Björk's fascination with avatars and virtual masks dates back all the way to her Homogenic era, as evidenced by this visual documentation of the singer's transformation into a techno-bear.

Considering this Paul White-directed release was made back in 1998, Hunter's FX still look pretty impressive.

8. Family

You won't have seen this one on MTV, nor will you any time soon. Dedicated Björk fans may have come across Family during the Björk Digital exhibition, or as part of the current Vulnicura VR (VVR) experience now available to download or check out in London until the end of the year.

The highlight of that visual rendition of 2015's Vulnicura LP, the more recently-made promo for Family shows what the best of VR is capable of in 2019. A vulva shape floats before the viewer as together they travel through the confines of a cave; sparks fly from the object and soon appears a digital ghost of Björk which you can 'smother' in shapes of light using a VR controller.

The whole experience makes you feel like a tripping wizard of sorts, and it's a shame this is the only VVR track to make use of the controllers in your hands. Also directed by Andrew Thomas Huang, Family is indicative of the director's love for hyper-saturated colours and out-of-this-world imagery. 

The end of the video sees the ghost become gigantic in size, with the viewer 'absorbed' within its transparent body, a suitably fitting way to end one hell of a visual feast. 

Read more about Björk's Vulnicura VR experience here.

7. Losss

In another example of a promo coming long after the release, Losss was unveiled in summer 2019 for a track off of what's arguably Björk's best album this century, Utopia.

The video came out as promo for the upcoming Cornucopia tour, as based around the album and stage visuals by director Tobias Gremmler.

It's a shame Tobias wasn't involved in Vulnicura VR, as we'd love to have seen his dueling, floating head-things here within the wonder of 360 immersion. 

6. The Comet Song

It's easy to forget Björk made an original song for 2010 movie Moomins and the Comet Chase, so this video made up of excerpts from the film is sadly underrated.

It may be composed of clips, but The Comet Song  directed and edited by Maria Lindberg and Tommi Tikka looks like a beautiful and cohesive statement in itself, and is the only video in our list not to feature Björk in any capacity.

5. Utopia

This 2017 single from the album of the same name was directed by Warren Du Preez and Nick Thornton Jones, and somehow claims the title of the most beautiful and most alien world seen yet in a Björk video. One watch of this and you'll want to live in its vision of utopia, forever surrounded by heavenly lights and flying virtual creatures.

4. I Miss You

Time to go old-skool as we revisit a single from Björk's best album, Post.

It's filled with trippy animation, which some viewers may find problematic as from its style it's obvious that it's from director John Kricfalusi – the Ren and Stimpy creator who pursued underage girls. However, if you can separate the art from the artist, this has as much right to be on this list as Chinatown has to be considered one of the Top 10 films ever. 

3. Human Behaviour

Dating back to 1993, this is the oldest video in our list, a warped fairy tale vision that proves a nice accompaniment to 2011's Crystalline (above). 

It's also both the first collaboration between the singer and Gondry, and the first sign to the wider world that Björk was going to become a titan of the visual and video in music. 

2. Army of Me

Another Post classic with another classic video by Michel Gondry, 1995's guerilla-meets-gorilla trip Army of Me may not have any digital art elements, but is a masterclass in motion trickery.

1. All is Full of Love

As if our choice of best Björk video ever made wasn't going to be Chris Cunningham's erotic cyborg classic?

Twenty years on, and none of the promo's impact has been lost, its minimal sci-fi sheen looking like it was made yesterday, living on today in the likes of Westworld and 2017's Ghost in the Shell.

To make the promo, Cunningham first shot a static set and props for half a minute, before removing one of the robots and replacing it with Björk, who had her face painted white and wore a blue suit.

Using a mix of the master shot and a live feed of the musician in frame, the production team tried to match up her face and the robot body as much as possible. Only her eyes and mouth were used from the shoot, with the rest of the robot made up of 3D animation traced from Björk's head. Again, an impressive use of digital art as based around the singer, with her merging of art and artifice continuing unabated to this day.

Read next: Björk's new Vulnicura VR album shows emotion and audio are the future of the medium

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