June 4, 2016
The term “third place” was coined by Ray Oldenburg, an American urban sociologist, most prominently known for his elaborations on the importance of informal gathering places for a functioning civil society, democracy, and civic engagement.
In short, where we meet our social needs through creative interaction with others.
The “first place” is home where we place to role of son, daughter, mum, dad, etc. The “second place” is work where the role is whatever position one represents.
The “third place,” according to Oldenburg, denotes territory that is inexpensive, easy to get to, welcoming, offers food and drink and people to chance to meet new people and feel companionship.
Carriageworks is a “third place.”
A general industrial precinct converted into multi-venue arts centre in its heart that has evolved to become an epicenter of Sydney’s art scene.
With much of the décor of the Railways of New South Wales workshops intact--think concrete, exposed brick, industrial light fixtures, steel appliances, weathered wood--the repurposed iron and brick charm radiates distinct nineteenth century flair.
Committed to the reflection of social and cultural diversity and artist-led in nature, its resident organisations produce diverse multidisciplinary programs and collaborations in its capacious halls, corridors and spaces with local and international artists.
An ideal location for Björk’s new project and exhibition:
Björk Digital, an installment of Sydney’s annual Vivid Festival, which celebrates “light, music, and ideas.”
Björk’s collaboration with digital luminaries, programmers, and visual artists has spawned seven 360 degree videos for her recent album Vulnicura, a personal emission of public grieving inspired by the feelings before and after the breakdown of her marriage with artist Matthew Barney.
The multi-media experience for the recipient and attendant of its Sydney premier is less in the form of an exhibition and more of a festival; Carriageworks’ vast industrial area is divided into designated spaces to celebrate all facets of Björk:
The “Björk Digital” 8x12m antechamber features a visceral 12-minute cinematic experience of her song “Black Lake,” which was filmed in the lava fields of Iceland – a canvas of natural beauty with the main protagonist crawling through its crevasses.
The custom built room has the audience encased in a chasm in between two big screens, surrounded by 54 speakers spinning their immersive sonic webs.
Emerging from the black lake and as a natural continuity of the audiovisual poetry of the medium music video, the audience now meets Björk up and close and gets to know her literally inside out: “Mouth Mantra,” as the titles suggests, lets one meander through her mouth as she sings the song and “Stonemilker” offers panoramic 360 degree views of her on a desolate beach in Reykjavik.
Entering the next room, which is partitioned off into small squares, one gets up close for a dance with the slowly growing, glowing outlines of the Icelandic shape shifter with the help of virtual reality devices.
The headphones and headsets create a focused, intimate all-encompassing experience that enhances every aspect of Björk’s songs as it allows you to enter her world.
Björk’s Biophilia was billed as an “app album.”
A multimedia project that was released alongside a series of apps linking the album's themes to musicology concepts. It was followed by a series of educational workshops in four continents.
The last part of the digital extravaganza allows the audience to explore and experience the custom made instruments and the Biophilia app, which is comprised of a series of 10 separate apps, one for each song, all included in a "mother app" which contains a menu made up by a 3-D constellation which the user can shift, zoom and orbit by swiping their fingers to open the apps.
In another section of Carriageworks, the “cinema room” offered a curated loop of Björk’s video oeuvre spanning her 24-year career.
The songs have been remastered for the occasion and feature her collaborations with the likes of Michel Gondry, Spike Jonze, Nick Knight, and Chris Cunningham,
Sandwiched in between the futuristic, virtual reality component of the Björk Digital experience and the cinema documenting her past, Björk performed an eclectic 5-hour marathon DJ set in the flesh the here and now for the two opening nights.
Björk has always been a pioneer and maverick.
Using interactive technology to her advantage, Björk Digital creates an experience that mimics the way we use our senses and enables the perception of information that is outside of our sensory spectrum:
The vision of experiencing music as digital synesthesia reflecting the way she has come up with her songs.
While Björk Digital is per definitonem inextricably linked to her art and persona, it does not merely serve as a forum to put on her on a pedestal and idolize her. It is all about content.
Photo courtesy of Carriageworks