Romanek and Jay-Z were inspired by the film Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present, about an art installation at New York's Museum of Modern Art in which the artist sat for hours in front of everyday people and just look each other (the documentary is great by the way).
During an interview fro "The Playlist": Romanek commented:
I was aware of Marina Abramovic's "Artist is Present," even though I was in London shooting "Never Let Me Go" and didn't get to go. And the idea that Jay Z regularly performs to 60,000 people at a time, I thought, "What about performing at one person at a time?" He absolutely loved it. He interrupted me and said, "Hold on I've got chills. That idea is perfect." He thinks, like me, that the music video has had its era. I also wanted to make sure we had Marina's blessing. So she attended the event and took part in the event. She couldn't have been more happy or enthusiastic about us using her concept and pushing it forward.
Picasso baby: a Performance Art Film premieres tonight at 11:00 PM on HBO.