Icelandic musician and visual artist Bjork was asked “What drives you ? what makes you creative ?” in an interview by Herman Vaske in 2002 on a TV series called “Why are you Creative?” (Vaske, H. 2002. YouTube) and her response was that she doesn’t see herself as any different from anyone else creatively. She uses the example of her family, whom make fireplaces and are electricians, they are obsessed with what they do like her, but they are not considered creative socially. In the interview Bjork says that she works hard at being creative and in turn being a creative practitioner, she does not take holidays and works on her art 24/7. Bjork’s process is natural for her, singing is something she has always done and for her it started as a child singing on her walk to school, interacting with the environment around her. Using the natural beauty of Iceland and the open space to fill it with her voice. This is her creative process, allowing whatever she see’s and feels around her to channel her creativity. She then expresses it in her own unique way using technology and striking, bold adaptations.
Figure 1 Bjork in the MoMA-commissioned video for Black Lake, directed by Andrew Thomas Huang.
In that same interview, Bjork also spoke more about creativity and said,
“For me, maybe I’m not so concerned about if it’s creative or not because it’s a funny word. Maybe because I’m brought up with a working-class situation, and with the people I admire the most, my grandmother, my family, if you were to look at their passport, no one of them says artist, but for me all of them have been very brave and completely stood by what they are made of. Sometimes to take care of a lamp shop is very creative, or to feed 8 children can be a very pro-life statement. And my grandfather would show me a fireplace he had just made, a polaroid of it, just as proud as I would play him a song.” (Vaske, H. 2002. YouTube)
The first of Tony Buzan’s six aspects of ‘How to have better creative thinking’ (Buzan. T. 2011. Video) speaks about how everyone is creative, Bjork embraces this philosophy and works with passion and consistently at what she does to create, as she is an artist and that is her job. Growing up in a working-class family has given her that hard working ethic and she carries that into her profession, making her a creative practitioner. She utilizes her own personal emotions and experiences and embodies that into her music and visuals, reliving them through the art form. She then takes those productions and displays them publically in unique and different ways, embracing technology to better serve herself and the way she chooses to deliver her art.
She also embraces the exploration of the creativity of the audience by allowing her music to become a vessel for education, as seen in her 2011 album ‘Biophilia’.
Her 2011 Biophilia app has since become a large-scale educational project, teaching kids to explore their own creativity while learning about music, nature, science, and technology. It has now done three years at schools across Scandinavia and is becoming a very serious part of the curriculum. “Out of all of my projects, this one is growing the most,” says Bjork. (Zadeh, J. 2016. Website Interview)
Figure 2 Biophilia Album Art
Bjork works divergently (Manning A. 2017. Website) in her head for long periods of time, developing the music and ideas in what she refers to as sections and little cupboard and drawers.
“Most of my work I do in my head, just when I’m doing other things, I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been doing it for so long, or because I spent so many years without recording my songs, I wasn’t till 27 I started recording them. It actually becomes quite organized in my head, and I’ve got all these little sections and little cupboards and drawers and I started that idea and drawer and I can come back to it a year later and it will still be there. So I work in a room and it looks like I’m starting a song, but I’ve actually been working on it for a year.” (Bjork on Writing Music, 2017, Youtube)
She then returns later to bring those ideas together with convergent thinking (Manning A. 2017. Website). The use of low-tech and easy to use technology like the simple laptop computer as opposed to a large-scale studio facility, allows her to take control of the creative process and not rely on others and waiting for the right time to record her music.
“I see myself as someone who builds bridges between the human things we do every day, and technology,” she says. ‘So when the laptop came, it meant I didn’t need a studio anymore. I hate them anyway – they don’t have windows and they are really expensive – but now I can write my music wherever. For a woman, I think it is really empowering because I don’t need the whole patriarchy of the studio and that whole universe to make my music. Instead of doing a small proportion of it myself, I could go all the way up to doing 90% of it myself.’” (Ellis-Petersen, H. 2016. Website)
Figure 3 A hairpiece and dress from the Medulla era
The ability to capture the moment in a way that suits her thinking and process is a very important part of delivering the emotions she embodies into her songs and recordings. She can work around her mood, sleep patterns and life with this portable technology to efficiently and more directly record the way she chooses. This allows the raw emotion of the original intent of the piece to carry through to the final product more clearly.
Divergent thinking and using the environment around her, combining nature and science into her process and then relating it back to the music is her most utilized process. Letting the ideas settle in her head and then developing them further to come out at the right time and be captured under her own control have proven to be very effective for her. She can embrace the technology and explore the options available to her music production this way, without being hindered by the logistics of high-end studio production.
She bases her art on her own emotional experiences and then channels this for the performances in the live and studio settings. The album Vulnicura is a good example of this process, even though it can be tough emotionally on her.
“There’s no easy exit through. I wish. I would have taken it if I could. [long pause] It’ll be emotional. I’m just going to have to cry and be a mess and do it.” (Zadeh, J. 2016. Website Interview)
This in turn causes problems in her practice, when the emotions she is channeling are negative and not easily relived. Effectively communicating her feelings and emotions safely, while being too close to the content is something a lot of emotionally based performance musicians face. Creating art that is, as Joe Zadeh explains as “Almost too powerful for the artist themselves” (Zadeh, J. 2016. Website Interview), gives the product more depth and connects with the audience on an emotional level as well as auditory and visually.
“It feels like Björk Digital was a means for her to promote one of her most successful albums in decades, without having to actually relive the pain and anguish that was the fuel of its conception. And that doesn’t detract from the validity of the exhibition, in fact it adds to it: here lies a piece of art almost too powerful for the artist themselves. It opens up a strange and interesting path for the relationship between art and technology, that machines could somehow liberate artists from the crippling weight of extremely personal projects, and perhaps enable them to write more truthfully than ever.” (Zadeh, J. 2016. Website Interview)
Figure 4 Performing a DJ set at Björk Digital in Tokyo in June 2016
The Wiki entry on CIM405, ‘Bjork: Tech & Human Connection’, discusses how she uses her art and the album ‘Vulnicura’ as therapy to process the pain of her divorce. This was a matter of urgency for Bjork to be able to release the pain. She has used VR technology on the album ‘Vulnicura’ to overcome these problems, by creating a VR version of herself, and then performing it once and sending that on tour.
“[Vulnicura] has been different to all of my other albums,” she tells me. “I wrote it faster than any other, and I wanted it over as quickly as possible. I did the least gigs I’ve ever done for a record, because I didn’t like the moaning. So I did like twelve gigs. Maybe fifteen.” Her tones changes: “I thought maybe there is a way? If I film myself singing those songs in VR, then I just have to do it once. I could put that on tour, instead of me. Meanwhile I could focus on more positive energies and write new songs. Instead of indulging yourself in negative shit, you should just make new stuff, it’s much better. So I started doing that, and I have been ever since. Most of my time goes into writing the new album, which I’m pretty far with now.” (Zadeh, J. 2016. Website Interview)
Figure 5 Visitors experience Björk Digital at Somerset House.2016
The Vulnicura album was performed live on tour in a showcase entitled ‘Bjork Digital’ As I have written about in my Wiki entry in the CIM405.1 Wiki entitled ‘Bjork: Tech & Human Connection’,
“She was driven by experimentation and improvisation with the album and the interactive VR displays she made with other directors is a way for her to distance herself from the feelings inside the art and inspired it in the first place. She is using the creative process as therapy for her own self. (Cooper, G. 2017. WIKI CIM405.1
She overcame the personal negative association of the emotion in the album’s content by collaborating with other creative industry practitioners, such as video directors, animators and graphic designers, using their perspective to work further on difficult personal projects. By using other art forms to further deliver her art. The use of different directors has allowed different points of view of each of the tracks on the ‘Vulnicura’ and helps Bjork distance herself from the difficult personal topics.
“The visual side of Vulnicura has been a very slow plan … I think emotionally it really works because heartbreak is the oldest human story of all, so it could take this experimentation,” she says. “Each song has a different format and a different director. I think that helps because the story is mainly just me moaning, and the instrumentation is always the same, just strings and beats. So to get different points of view with different directors and different technology … I think it suits the project really well.” (Ellis-Petersen, H. 2016. Website)
Figure 6 Speaking at the launch of Vulnicura, Björk appeared not in person but on screen in the form of an ethereal avatar.
Through the use of technology, Bjork is able to deliver her art within the restraints of the music industry, while still exploring experimental and avant-garde approaches that suit’s her personality. Creative divergent beginnings, formed in her head, that are then folded into practical processes, using new technology, equipment and methods. The collaboration with visual artists, matches and brings her music to the industry with new and exciting formats that engage the audience in an active way, such as the VR ‘Bjork Digital’ shows. This evolving and exploratory process helps challenge the music industry expectations and yet still conforms to what is considered a musical performance.
It is the visual, emotional and musical aspects of Bjork’s art that engages the audience. Not simply a .WAV file audio recording, but a technology and interactive based package that works for Bjork herself and the industry to accept and take in the art she pours so much passion into.
Björk – Vulnicura Live (Complete HD 1080p)
Cooper, G (2017, June). CIM405 WIKI Bjork: Tech & Human Connection. Retrieved June 20, 2017, from https://campusonline.gscm.sae.edu/mod/wiki/view.php?pageid=14#toc-7
Ellis-Petersen, H. (2016, August 31). Björk: ‘I build bridges between tech and the human things we do’ Retrieved June 20, 2017, from https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/aug/31/bjork-build-bridges-technology-somerset-house-london-virtual-reality-vulnicura
Björk on Writing Music. (2014, July 03). Retrieved June 16, 2017, from https://youtu.be/JNFktYapxWY
Joe Zadeh, (2016, Sept 22). How Bjork Created a Virtual Version of Herself to Deal With the Pain of ‘Vulnicura’. Retrieved June 18, 2017, from https://noisey.vice.com/en_us/article/how-bjork-created-a-virtual-version-of-herself-to-deal-with-the-pain-of-vulnicura
Fusilli, J. (2015, March 09). How Björk’s New Album Creates A Welcoming Universe Both Logical and Unexpected. Retrieved June 18, 2017, from https://www.wsj.com/articles/universes-both-logical-and-unexpected-1425938338
Vaske, H. Björk – Interview on ARTE – Why Are You Creative? (2002). (2012, May 04). Retrieved June 18, 2017, from https://youtu.be/oUKMIlsoevU
Manning, A. (2017, February 06). Divergent vs. Convergent Thinking: How to Strike a Balance | Harvard Professional Development | Harvard DCE. Retrieved June 20, 2017, from https://www.extension.harvard.edu/professional-development/blog/divergent-vs-convergent-thinking-how-strike-balance
Buzan, T. Video. (2011, April 12). Retrieved June 20, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zO2LdDpx-Tc
YEAAAAAHHH!!! Our new ep STARE AT THE SUN is out today in Japan !!!!
We have some limited edition Japan CD’s available for you if you can’t get to the stores or shows in Japan. Simply hit up www.charlierebel.com and sign up to the mailing list and you will be sent access to the new ep right now.
We have 9 shows across Japan over the next 12 days thanks to our Aussie label, Human Records. We will be tearing up stages from tomorrow night and are currently causing some havoc in Osaka.
That was a mission haha, hello Osaka!
Thanks to Dave Marini for this Japan tour poster for Charlie Rebel and our new ep STARE AT THE SUN on Human Records. If you’re outside Japan and want the new ep on Tuesday, then hit up www.charlierebel.com and join the mailing list.
And if you are looking for some great graphic design, hit Dave up !
FLM456.1 Case Study
The purpose of this case study is to compare and contrast two documentary film’s and analyze the storytelling method in each. Looking at the mode of desire, social influence, target audience and market and also how effective each method was in delivering the documentary.
I will be analyzing ‘The Story Of God With Morgan Freeman’ (Season 1 Episode 1 — Beyond Death) https://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/945622595542/the-story-of-god-with-morgan-freeman-beyond-death. It was produced by The National Geographic Channel in the USA and originally aired on April 3rd 2016. It last aired on SBS TV on Sun 21st May 2017 and SBS on-demand, also as a multiplatform production on TV, online and via SBS on-demand.
I will also be comparing ‘Trillion Dollar Island’
http://iview.abc.net.au/programs/trillion-dollar-island/ZW0614A001S00, which was produced by Chalkboard TV and BB2 in the UK. It first aired in the UK in Jan 2016 and has recently aired on ABC TC on Wed 14th June 2017. It is a multiplatform documentary currently available on TV, ABC iView, and BB2 online. The production is hosted by Jacques Peretti and he takes the audience on a journey throughout the Cayman Islands interviewing banks, businesses and the people in relation to the use of the Cayman Islands as a tax haven for big businesses.
“Investigative reporter Jacques Peretti is on a mission to get to the heart of what makes the UK tax haven of Cayman Islands tick – and uncover the unexpected truth about what its existence means for regular taxpayers.
The Cayman Islands. It is a Caribbean paradise of sun, sea and cocktails, but there is something else going on. Big money, big corporations… and seemingly no one paying a penny of tax.
Now Jacques Peretti travels to Cayman in search of the truth about this controversial British tax haven, and uncovers some shocking revelations for what this sun-drenched island means for everyone back in Britain.
Jacques meets the politicians, playboys and ex-pats on the islands in a bid to unravel the truth about a place with the population of Bognor Regis… but a trillion pounds in the bank!”
(BB2. 2017. Website)
In discussing the effectiveness and analyzing these two documentaries, I will be referring to Renov’s modes of desire or four fundamental tendencies in documentary, as explained in his book ‘Theorizing Documentary’ (Renov, M. 1993. p, 21.). Renov theorized that documentary films fall into one of the following four modes.
(Renov, M. 1993. p, 21.).
The Story of God with Morgan Freeman fits into the analyze or interrogate category for me. While it provides a lot of direct information about the historical progression of religious gods, in a logical and clear explanation. It also asks the question to the audience and the interviewee’s, if God exists? Which he directly asked the first interviewee, who drowned and came back from a mysterious light “was that god?”. Some of the information and delivery of the documentary fits into the to record, revel or preserve, but the overall goal is to get the audience thinking as they never push towards any one direction.
In contrast ‘Trillion Dollar Island’ is more focused to persuade or promote, the host and producers direction and personal bias is put into the documentary, as he takes the audience on a journey to tell the story that they want to tell. Using the interviews and questions as well as the data and some monologues to the camera, to showcase the issues of having an offshore tax haven. Highlighting the issues in the Cayman Islands with its residents and also how the tax exempt status is hurting potential tax revenue in the UK. Although focused on the UK, the documentary has many connections with similar issues in Australia.
Using another documentary theorist with Bill Nichols’, in his book ‘Introduction to Documentary’ he discusses his view of storytelling in documentary films with 6 storytelling methods. Poetic, expository, participatory, observational, reflexive and performative.
“Individual voices lend themselves to an auteur theory of cinema, while shared voices lend themselves to a genre theory of cinema. Genre study considers the qualities that characterize groupings of various of filmmakers. In documentary film and video, we can identify six modes of representation that function something like sub-genres of the documentary genre itself: poetic, expository, participatory, observational, reflexive, performative. These six modes establish a loose framework of affiliation within which individuals may work; they set up conventions that a given film may adopt; and they provide specific expectations viewers anticipate having fulfilled.” (Nicols, B. 2001. p, 99.)
This gives us another view of the intent of the documentary filmmaker and helps us further understand the purpose of the film. The story of God with Morgan Freeman is observational with different stories, interviews and lots of historical information, leaving the viewer to make the decision for themselves. The first episode has Morgan interviewing a man who drowned and came back to life, some scientists about AI, an archeologist and a trip to Egypt, a Buddhist temple and cremation center in India. Covering a wide range of viewpoints, it delivers the content without too much bias, allowing the audience to make their own decisions on the topics.
The Story of God with Morgan Freeman is a tent-pole program for SBS, although produced by national geographic, it is heavily integrated into the SBS website and up front and center on the first page. The celebrity draw card of using Morgan Freeman as the voiceover and host is appealing to a wide audience and will help drag the viewer into the film. It has a direct storytelling voice with Morgan Freeman, but is not authentic voice, more observational and analytical. Morgan Freeman does input a lot of his own personal experiences and shares this with the audience right from the start, talking about the town he grew up in and where he first experienced death. This gives us some authentic voice and the personal stories from some of the interviewee’s also expresses this, but overall the content is direct and unbiased, an observational view that encourages the audience to analyze for themselves. The first episode deals with life beyond death and whether there is an afterlife or not. The description on the website itself states that the documentary was made “in an effort to understand how religion evolved and adapted as society changed, and how religion transformed the evolution of society.” (BB2. 2017. Website)
The producers are looking to explore the topic of religion and how it relates to society, in an effort to understand, making the audience think about it for themselves. The documentary is very cinematic overall, lush musical scores, sweeping wide angle high resolution shots, high speed and lush cinematic production with the deep and well produced voice over from Morgan Freeman. The production alone on this documentary is exceptional and this in turn opens it up to a wider audience, in addition to using a well-known world celebrity, it is appealing to many different countries. Being National Geographic, the target market is more directed to people who want to explore these more in depth topics and therefore doesn’t simplify the content or lay out the answers. It simply shows the history and discusses the aspects, leaving any conclusions for each self. The sharing of personal stories and monologues from Morgan Freeman, help the audience feel that there is some authentic voice and connects with the fact that this documentary is also the hosts exploration of the topic of God. I think taking an actor that has ‘played god’ in a film before also has some connection and I expect that Morgan himself is interested in the topic. Although he shares his personal experiences, he doesn’t go as far as sharing his view on whether god exists or if there is an afterlife. There is also a lot of very graphic shots in the documentary that I see as there as shock and awe value entertainment. Reenacted blood rituals, actors playing Jesus and shots of his hands being nailed to a cross, bodies being burned in a pile. They have chosen the most bloody and shocking things to reenact and show the audience, layered with deep and emotive music to grab the audience’s attention. Unnecessary to the actual story, but helping to keep the viewers’ attention.
Trillion Dollar Island on the other hand is to persuade and promote the host and producers view of the issues caused by tax havens, such as the Cayman Islands. The host directs the interviews and content to show the aspect of the story that he wants to explain. Building the documentary up to showcase how these ‘evil’ banks and governments are causing these issues. Based on Nichol’s storytelling methods, Trillion Dollar Island is a expository documentary, where the host constructs a specific argument or a point of view for the audience. Focusing on the negative aspects of the Cayman Islands being used as a tax haven. The interviewer directs each of the interviews and blends these with his own monologues to show the audience his point of view and make sure that the final conclusions and summary of the documentary are clear and in line with their views. The use of still images, footage from the islands and interviews shows a multi-faceted storytelling method like The Story of God, but answers its own questions directly and forces the viewer into their perspective. Playing on the poor island people and how the banks and local Cayman government and UK government is to blame, surprisingly taking the responsibility away from the corporations.
Both documentaries use different modes of desire in expressing their points and direction. The use of a more cerebral approach with The Story of God, allows and requires the viewer to form their own opinion based on the information. I found the inclusion of Morgan Freeman’s personal experiences helped bring an authentic voice to the film and in turn helped me to understand that there is no answer, but that they are asking the audience (and Morgan) to explore and think about it for yourself. While the Trillion Dollar Island uses a more direct persuasive approach, laying out directly to the audience their point of view on the topic. Both are effective in delivering the purpose of the documentary. The Story of God having been made by National Geographic has a more open option and does not force an idea onto the listener and this is partly due to the target audience being perhaps a bit more intelligent and wanting to think for themselves. The international feel on the documentary is shown with the use of an international star as well as traveling to different countries and talking to both religious leaders as well as atheist scientists. The Trillion Dollar island on the other hand is more focused at low income workers in the UK being on BB2 and now ABC, it also takes the view that the government and banks need to sort this out, that the view of the people is not important. Its more about the little guy standing up to the greedy corporation. Its target audience is more bulk mainstream blue collar workers and hence it lays out what they want people to think. Instead of asking the audience what to think.
Overall I thought The Story of God was much more effective in delivering the topic within the mode of desire, obviously a much higher budget film with having Morgan Freeman host, as well as the music scoring and epic film locations and shots. It felt less pushy and more open to the honest answers, a more thoroughly thought through process and film. The Trillion Dollar Island was possibly more on the exposé side of films, attempting to explain what is going on with the greed and tax exemption, but focusing on how it affects the poorer locals on the Cayman Islands and blaming the banks and governments to do something about it. Perhaps missing the bigger picture that capitalism itself is the issue and instead finding someone for them to blame for the current situation. The host repeatedly asked interviewee’s who is to blame for it, who is responsible for the situation.
Renov, M. (1993). Theorizing documentary. New York: Routledge.
Nichols, B. (2007). Introduction to documentary. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana Univ. Press.
Anderson-Moore, O. (2015, September 17). Nichols’ 6 Modes of Documentary Might Expand Your Storytelling Strategies. Retrieved June 08, 2017, from http://nofilmschool.com/2015/09/nichols-6-modes-documentary-can-help-expand-your-storytelling
The Story Of God With Morgan Freeman Season 1 Episode 1 — Beyond Death. (n.d.). Retrieved June 13, 2017, from https://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/945622595542/the-story-of-god-with-morgan-freeman-beyond-death
Trillion Dollar Island. (n.d.). Retrieved June 14, 2017, from http://iview.abc.net.au/programs/trillion-dollar-island/ZW0614A001S00
Britain’s Trillion Pound Island – Inside Cayman. (2016, January 22). Retrieved June 12, 2017, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06wrt2d
Wooo excited to announce that Being Jane Lane will be supporting Frenzal Rhomb on Sat 22nd at Miami Shark Bar Gold Coast. The new single SAILBOAT is on the way followed the new album on Human Records.
Frankensteining a white whale !
Serious construction has begun for the sculpture i’m making for the Swell Festival on the Gold Coast in September this year. Its a 1:1 scale kinetic wind harp shaped after Migaloo the white humpback whale. Tuned to Emaj7 and it will be playing a song I wrote to mimic the humpback whale song.
Sound and music follow a harmonic structure like that found in nature. There’s connection to our organic world utilizing acoustics & science, to create harmony with our surroundings. Sound is an auditory perception of the brain’s response to vibrational patterns observed by our bodies. The combination of art, design, and psychoacoustics creates a hidden link that resonates with nature and all life. Humpback whales are described as ‘inveterate composers’ of songs that are ‘strikingly similar’ to human musical traditions, a kinship we share with these mammals and a shared language.