The video

The video for ‘Where Are We Now?’ was directed by artist Tony Oursler, who had previously worked with David Bowie on the ‘Little Wonder’ video and the Earthling tour.

In the clip, Bowie appeared alongside Oursler’s wife, fellow artist Jacqueline Humphries. The scenes also included various ephemera which provided potential clues for long-term Bowie watchers, including a diamond, a dog, a snowflake, an empty bottle, and a cobra snake.

At first I wondered if I’d be able to live up to a project like this, given the gravity of the situation, the surprise of coming back after ten years of silence. But I listened very carefully to what David was saying and he already had this crystallised, fully articulated image for the video in his head. There were a few things that we teased out together, so it’s a kind of overlapping collaboration that gave birth in my workshop. Those dolls you see – those doppelganger electronic effigies – are a trope I’ve been using in my work since the early ’90s. David used those in ’97 for his fiftieth birthday party at Madison Square Garden, which was the first time we really did anything together. So he took me to his studio where he had them out of storage and said: ‘Let’s just use these.’ It was wonderful to see the birth of this song riding in on some kind of electronic magic carpet in my crazy studio.
Tony Oursler
Uncut, April 2013

The video shoot took place at Oursler’s studio over two days. There was also archive footage of Berlin, including many of the locations mentioned in the song’s lyrics.

In addition to appearing in doll form, Bowie is also seen standing by a wall, carrying a notepad and wearing a t-shirt bearing the words “m/s Song of Norway“. This was an unambiguous reference to the 1970 film Song Of Norway, although the prefix “m/s” refers to the motor ship cruise liner with which the film shared a name.

In 1969 Bowie split up with his girlfriend Hermione Farthingale after she was offered a part as a dancer in the film and left London for Scandinavia.

Oh yeah, it broke my heart. She was doing this funny romp in Norway with bits of ballet in it and she was cast in that. I didn’t get over that for such a long time, it really broke me up.
David Bowie
David Bowie: Finding Fame, BBC

Lyrics

Had to get the train
From Potsdamer Platz
You never knew that
That I could do that
Just walking the dead

Sitting in the Dschungel
On Nürnberger Straße
A man lost in time
Near KaDeWe
Just walking the dead

Where are we now?
Where are we now?
The moment you know
You know
You know

Twenty thousand people
Cross Böse Brücke
Fingers are crossed
Just in case
Walking the dead

Where are we now?
Where are we now?
The moment you know
You know
You know

As long as there’s sun
As long as there’s sun
As long as there’s rain
As long as there’s rain
As long as there’s fire
As long as there’s fire
As long as there’s me
As long as there’s you