A new music video for Mabel from David Wilson and Buck “rewrites” the concept of sin

Playboy cover riffs, Marilyn Monroe references and Eve’s apple: this song and video looks at how the media represents and consumes bodies.

10 May 2024


Since the early 2010s David Wilson has been behind some of the most celebrated music videos. The sonic animation for Arctic Monkeys’ Do I Wanna Know? was directed by David, so was the high-drama epic for David Guetta and Sia’s Titanium, and the gut-wrenching accompaniment to Keaton Henson’s You Don’t Know How Lucky You Are, in which actress Sophie Thompson cries in a field for a solid four minutes in a Victorian-era get-up (we promise it’s way more powerful than it sounds on paper).

Now, David’s back, this time with a video for R&B pop singer Mabel, Look at My Body Pt.II featuring Shygirl. Made in collaboration with Buck’s animation studio, the video blends fast-paced live-action with a rabbit-hole animated segment to visualise Mabel’s dissection of how bodies are represented, and consumed, by a salacious media cycle.

The brief, David tells us, was his “favourite” thus far in his career. Unlike any he had seen before, it featured no imagery; it was simply black text on five white pages. There was a clear list of simple statement titles and keywords, like body politics, humour, sex, male gaze and critiques of culture, as well as a reference list that included John Berger’s Ways of Seeing and Adam and Eve.


David Wilson / Buck / Mabel: Look at My Body Pt. II (Copyright © David Wilson / Buck / Mabel, 2024)

For David, the sparse brief demonstrated trust and a “huge level of respect for the creative process”, and he spent the weekend after receiving it reading, listening to podcasts and watching lectures on YouTube. “It was a fantastic process where I wasn’t being asked to match a visual mood board, but instead lead from concept.” David eventually landed on trying to use the video to break down the Western representation of the female form through the ages, from adult magazines and art to film stars. Notable nods in the video include a riff on Playboy and Marilyn Monroe’s infamous subway-grate photo shoot.

It was important to “blow apart” these narratives, and use the video to “rewrite” them, says David. Through his research, David stumbled across an alternative theory to the story of Eve eating the apple, one that suggested that Eve in fact ate a psilocybin mushroom. Inspirations for the theory include a 13th-century fresco in Plaincourault Abbey in France, in which the tree of knowledge is depicted as a large mushroom.

In David’s research, this theory was linked to other concepts suggesting that Eve eating the mushroom was integral to the evolution and expansion of the human brain. “I loved that idea of re-writing the script on the origin of ‘sin’, and that we should all be thankful for Eve,” says David. Archetypal imagery referring to the Garden of Eden appears as a staged facade in the video, reminiscent of a school production (cardboard cutouts and all), with baroque, painterly frescoes and muted golden tones, before it all breaks apart and Shygirl is transported into a psychedelic garden.


David Wilson / Buck / Mabel: Look at My Body Pt. II (Copyright © David Wilson / Buck / Mabel, 2024)

This trippy influence bleeds into the animation too. David outlines the psychedelic work of painters Judy Chicago and Alex Grey as a primary influence for this part, though he was keen not to lean too heavily into mind-bending visuals, aiming for an element of simplicity in the linework too. He identifies the work of Evan M Cohen and Alpha Channelling as having “spoken to me for years”. He continues: “There’s power in removing detail, so that one can paint their own lived experience into the gaps.”

Joe Brooks, animation director at Buck sheds light on the intricate process behind creating such a wild animated segment. As is expected, Joe tells us that it’s pretty tricky to find clear references for a high speed umbilical cord fly-through – as the video depicts – so the team instead gathered GIFs of surgical footage, outer space light tunnels and drone piloting.

These were then put into what the team describe as “buckets” for each moment of the piece, which are divided into pillars – those of practical visual ideas and those of conceptual feelings. Though it’s a fine balance, Joe says, between providing “just the right amount of concrete guidance to understand the vision” while and allowing space for feeling, style and flair, he says this mix “ultimately injects more personality across the animation.”

Today, 10 May, the video saw its premiere at 9am in New York’s Times Square.

GalleryDavid Wilson / Buck / Mabel: Look at My Body Pt. II (Copyright © David Wilson / Buck / Mabel, 2024)

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David Wilson / Buck / Mabel: Look at My Body Pt. II (Copyright © David Wilson / Buck / Mabel, 2024)

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About the Author

Olivia Hingley

Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English Literature and History, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.

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