Are Jonathan Glazer’s New U.K. TV Promos Hypnotizing or Just Plain Bizarre?

Offbeat identity clips evoke David Lynch

The U.K's Channel 4 is rebranding, and the results are bizarre but stunning.

A series of new idents—short video signatures to air on the network—feature natural but surrealistic scenes. In one, rocks fall from the sky to disturb a lush forest landscape. In another, a masked person performs some kind of ceremonial dance inside a cave. In a third, a small army of men in white protective suits harvest chunks of mysterious blue rocks from a cliff they've demolished.

Directed by Jonathan Glazer, they evoke a hypnotizing blend of The Twilight Zone and National Geographic—or maybe just a heavy dose of David Lynch à la Twin Peaks. They also seem vaguely reminiscent of some of MTV's older idents, absent its heavy branding.

In fact, Channel 4's logo, a nine-block piece designed by Martin Lambie-Nairn in 1982 and used since, is notably missing from footage (save for a small silhouetted version in the lower right corner—and references to pieces of the logo scattered throughout the footage).

In other words, the spots are memorable—and quite unusual for the format—but highly abstract, in a way that, upon repeat viewing, seems likely to cast the network as the destination for people who want weird, intriguing but perhaps opaque television.

Then again, that's more or less exactly what the brand seems to want. Chris Bovill, joint head of Channel 4's in-house creative agency, described breaking down the more formal logo as "liberating," reports the Independent. "The blocks are free to demonstrate our remit; to be irreverent, innovative, alternative and challenging."

Adam Sherwin, a media reporter at the newspaper, pegs the broader effort as "either a bold reinvention of a middle-aged brand, or a marketing brainstorm too far."

Channel 4 is not abandoning its logo altogether—retaining it for use in other promotional materials. But, typography geeks rejoice, the rebrand also includes two new fonts—named Chadwick and Horseferry, after the cross streets of network's offices—for use on-air and in advertising materials.