Julia Holter‘s song “Whether” from her October album Aviary explores the vengeful nature of our polluted atmosphere, so it’s appropriate that the track’s video, released today, was itself troubled by dire ecological circumstances. Visual artist Dicky Bahto’s clip features a disorienting edit of ghostly, color-saturated cyanotype film rolls, whose chemical splotches and images of hands and cats swirl into an abstract stew. In a statement, Bahto describes how he developed the 16 mm film outside during the latest batch of Los Angeles-area wildfires, and how the smoke-filled skies influenced the process.
“When Julia asked me to make a video for Whether, she said that I should ‘have fun with it’. I decided to indulge in my love of hand-worked darkroom techniques,” Bahto said. “Exposing 16mm film prepared with cyanotype solution to the light of the sun on my balcony every afternoon over a couple of weeks, making the work in small pieces, meant that as the fires in Southern California darkened the sky with smoke, my exposures took increasingly long amounts of time to get images ever more faint. Julia wanted me to share this anecdote, since it fits the dystopian theme of the song, which is about the world collapsing around us because of climate change.”
“Whether” is the second song from Aviary to receive visual treatment, following “Words I Heard.” You can read Spin’s interview with Holter about the album here. Watch the video below.