Atwood Magazine’s Viewfinder column revolves around music videos, and how a piece of music is synergistically enhanced by well-produced visuals.
— — — —
There has been much negative press regarding the tech industry recently, covering everything from fake news and data privacy scandals to the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar. Judging by the backlash against many Silicon Valley tech companies, it’s obvious we’re long past the halcyon days of reckless optimism that characterized the earlier half of this decade when social media and smartphone use were just taking off.
One brief glance around your home is enough to observe the myriad ways that technology has leached into every aspect of daily life, altering the way we interact with each other and the world around us. Nobody could have predicted just how addictive our smartphones would be, and how prolonged use of social media would insidiously affect our mental health. As our technology grows exponentially more sophisticated by the year, it only raises more questions about how to fix these existing problems, as well as potential consequences that will arise in the future if technological growth continues in an unfettered manner without ethical oversight.
Many art forms have long drawn inspiration from the fields of science and technology. Sci-fi movies and novels remain popular forms of entertainment, addressing hypothetical scenarios in dystopian or alternate universes that fuel our collective imagination in these uncertain times. With the general public more aware than ever about the impact of technology in our lives, and with all this technology readily available, it’s no surprise that artists and musicians are also producing work that reflect on these issues.
Directed by Jonathan Zawada, Baauer’s music video for his track “Company” takes a cheeky, light-hearted approach in addressing the topic at hand, poking fun at the outsized presence of smartphones and technology on our relationships and dating lives. Anyone who has spent even a minimal amount of time on dating apps like Tinder can relate to seemingly endless parade of profiles and borderline mindless swiping that can characterize our interaction with these apps.
Watch: “Company” – Baauer ft. Soleima
In the description box below the video, Zawada explains that the video “explores how we emotionally connect virtually and physically: how human memory and digital memory intersect.” By creating “a world of digital sculpture that fuses technology with hip hop and pop cultural ephemera,” Zawada managed to capture the interplay between our online relationships and technology, albeit with a bizarre twist, perfectly complementing the lyrics of the track that seemingly revolve around dating and cuffing season.
Baauer’s video calls to mind Björk’s award-winning music video for her track “All is Full Of Love,” taken off her 1997 Homogenic LP. As with many of Björk’s videos, it’s visually arresting, fusing compelling imagery with her distinctive music to create a piece of art that sticks in your head long after the video ends. The fact that the video pretty much has not aged since its release speaks to its forward-looking concept and flawless execution.
Watch: “All Is Full Of Love” – Björk
Directed by Chris Cunningham, the video for “All is Full Of Love” is a combination of robotics and CGI, and revolves around the construction of two robots that then seemingly come alive and, at the climax of the track, start to kiss. Featuring Björk’s eyes and mouth superimposed onto the robots, the video is surreal, but the seamlessness of the video grounds it in reality; it’s impossible to tell which parts of the video are CGI and which are not.
While Baauer’s video is firmly rooted in the present, Björk’s video takes a shot at a hypothetical future where, much like in the movie Ex Machina, artificial intelligence (AI) becomes sentient and intelligent enough to perform more than just rote tasks. The video for “All is Full Of Love” presents a future where AI and robotics become sophisticated to the point where robots attain human-like qualities and are able to feel emotions like love, essentially blurring the lines between human and robot, creator and creation.
Baauer’s video forces us to examine how technology has altered human interaction, creating a dating culture characterized by short lived relationships, hookup culture, and new phenomena like ghosting. On the other hand, Björk’s video calls into question more serious issues at play, namely what our future will look like in a few decades given the advancements in AI technology, and with it the potential ethical questions society will have to address. Like all good art, both videos hold a mirror up to society, compelling the viewer to think about issues beyond the visuals presented at face value.
— — — —