A Young Björk Deconstructs (Physically & Theoretically) a Television in a Delightful Retro Video

Björk’s first inter­na­tion­al hit, “Human Behav­iour” (1993) received scant radio play in North Amer­i­ca. Rather, the Ice­landic singer’s fame only grew as a result of MTV’s heavy rota­tion of the sur­re­al­ist music video that accom­pa­nied the song, direct­ed by Acad­e­my Award win­ner Michel Gondry. Despite the debt of celebri­ty she owed to tele­vi­sion, Björk was not always a fan.

In the undat­ed video above, Björk expounds on her Christ­mas­time TV-watch­ing habits.  Imme­di­ate­ly, the video takes an odd—or, I sup­pose, char­ac­ter­is­ti­cal­ly Björk-esque—turn when the young singer decides to take her TV apart:

But now I’m curi­ous. I’ve switched the TV off and now I want to see how it oper­ates. How it can make, put me into all those weird sit­u­a­tions. So… It’s about time.

The var­i­ous com­po­nents prove fas­ci­nat­ing, and Björk pro­ceeds to describe the television’s hard­ware in her whim­si­cal, oth­er­world­ly man­ner:

This is what it looks like. Look at this. This looks like a city. Like a lit­tle mod­el of a city. The hous­es, which are here, and streets. This is maybe an ele­va­tor to go up there. And here are all the wires. These wires, they real­ly take care of all the elec­trons when they come through there. They take care that they are pow­er­ful enough to get all the way through to here. I read that in a Dan­ish book. This morn­ing.

The most puz­zling part of the video comes when Björk men­tions that her cav­a­lier approach to tele­vi­sion is rel­a­tive­ly new. Until recent­ly, she had been guard­ed about her view­ing habits:

I remem­ber being very scared because an Ice­landic poet told me that not like in cin­e­mas, where the thing that throws the pic­ture from it just sends light on the screen, but this is dif­fer­ent. This is mil­lions and mil­lions of lit­tle screens that send light, some sort of elec­tric light, I’m not real­ly sure… Your head is very busy all the time to cal­cu­late and put it all togeth­er into one pic­ture. And then because you’re so busy doing that, you don’t watch very care­ful­ly what the pro­gram you are watch­ing is real­ly about. So you become hyp­no­tized.

Thanks to the wis­dom con­tained with­in an unnamed Dan­ish book, how­ev­er, Björk has grown more at ease with the poten­tial of television’s being used for mind con­trol and hyp­no­sis. At the end of the clip, she offers a final pearl of wis­dom:

You should­n’t let poets lie to you.

via The Atlantic

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Björk and Sir David Atten­bor­ough Team Up in a New Doc­u­men­tary About Music and Tech­nol­o­gy

Ice­land in the Mid­night Sun

Ilia Blin­d­er­man is a Mon­tre­al-based cul­ture and sci­ence writer. Fol­low him at @iliablinderman.

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Comments (4)
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  • ben says:

    tele­vi­sion still numbs ones brain

    • crux says:

      real­ly? last time i checked i kin­da have my own net­work and pro­gram­ming and i was kind of the ceo ot what “tv” shows and i can stick a doc­u­men­tary inside the now flat mag­ic box that runs on dwelves and faires, or a prop­er piece of art, or what­ev­er the fuck I con­sid­er “not numb­ing”. lud­dites, get real, its open cul­ture btw…FREE MOVIES if you donu00b4t want to get into pira­cy, no need to be hooked to main­stream media, cable or what­ev­er and be annoyed by ads every five sec­onds, now thatu00b4s retro and bjork is bril­liant “shouldnu00b4t let poets lie to you” :D luck­i­ly she read the dan­ish book about tv at the morn­ing of some­one kind­ly dis­charged the crt for her or that video would be labeled THE DAY BJORK GOT FRIED BY TV PHYSICALLY AND THEORETICALLY IN A BANNED SNUFF VIDEO, bju00f6rk fans: donu00b4t try that at home, EVER unless you know how to dis­charge a crt. no joke, seems pret­ty obvi­ous (usu­al­ly the HUGE sign warn­ing not to open should kin­da sug­gests it :P) but you may get killed, try at least to read a dan­ish book about tv at the morn­ing

  • the underground man says:

    I think the poet was right in this case..

  • quinccharming says:

    This Was amaz­ing. I feel like I would’ve had that same con­ver­sa­tion with her.

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