‘Jump They Say’ was released with a promotional video directed by Mark Romanek.
The video presented David Bowie as a sharp-suited businessman, paranoid and undergoing experiments by his colleagues, who finally jumps from a building in an apparent suicide attempt.
The promo pays homage in places to four films: Jean-Luc Godard’s Alphaville (1965), Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (1971), Chris Marker’s La Jetée (1962) and Orson Welles’ The Trial (1962). The uniformed women also recalled the stewardesses on the space plane in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).
Towards the end, as Bowie plummets from the building to a car below, there is a further allusion to Evelyn McHale’s 1947 suicide. McHale jumped to her death from the Empire State Building, landing on a United Nations limousine below. Four minutes later, photography student Robert Wiles took a picture of her body, which is often referred to as “the most beautiful suicide”.
Jump – The David Bowie Interactive CD-ROM was an early attempt at interactivity, aiming to let users create their own videos for ‘Jump They Say’, as well as watch the videos from Black Tie White Noise and interviews with the singer.
Jump was released in 1994, but was not well received. Bowie intended for the project to allow users to “approach the thing again and again and never go through the same experience”
Everything seems to have crossed through the mediums a lot more, and I’m not quite sure what it is we’re doing, but it’s not just making records anymore. It’s got a lot further than that, and we keep translating everything to be interactive. The medium that we are working in is not actually CD-ROM. The medium is interactive multimedia, and I think that the CD-ROM is only the best delivery system currently available.
New York Times, 28 July 1994
However, Bowie soon grew frustrated by the limitations of the CD-ROM format, which he claimed prevented true interactivity, and later disowned Jump.
I hated it. I absolutely loathed it. … There were aspects of it I thought had potential, but then again, there was so much information on the disc itself that made the idea of anybody using it interactively a joke. Interactive, as far as I’m concerned, is when the person who’s operating the computer has as much to say as what’s on the screen. That is interactive. And at the moment, it’s just the ABC options. Even the most sophisticated CD-ROMs are just ‘Here’s the hard information. Now, you can take one of these three steps’.
Axcess magazine, issue 3
Bowie did not tour in support of Black Tie White Noise. However, he sang ‘Jump They Say’ live during an appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show on 6 May 1993.
‘Jump They Say’ was performed on 1995’s Outside Tour, and the following year’s Outside Summer Festivals Tour.
Bowie’s final live performance of the song came on 14 September 1996 at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City.