Immersive digital art works offering listeners an intimate, visceral and poetic glimpse of their own mortality.
Afterlife is a series of four 20-minute (approx.) immersive digital artworks that transport the listener to places which paradoxically none of us will ever know: connecting us with stories of the body’s decomposition after death.
These site-based works, chart in forensic detail the course of a human body’s decay and the influence of different environments on its transformation. In a woodland, a visitor rots into the leaf litter, left out in the elements, eventually turning to stone. In a museum, a viewer dries out and becomes a conserved sculpture. In water, a body is transported by currents and tides as it is slowly transformed to sand. At home, as the body decomposes, social ties disintegrate and other life takes root.
Each of the four Afterlife pieces are experienced via a spoken narrative delivered via adaptable audio devices. They have been created using insights gathered from forensic anthropologists, ecologists, and conservators. Afterlife is a highly visual work, word, voice, ambient sounds and bodily sensations, work on the listeners’ imagination to create an internal portrait of what happens to their own body after death. The effect has been described as ‘oddly peaceful and reassuring’, ‘amazingly poetic’ and ‘genuinely remarkable’.
The artists talk of these works as a humanist meditation developed through close and meticulous consultation with forensic experts. “It’s been a crash course in human decomposition. We’ve explored the impact of temperature, moisture, animals and all the environmental factors. We’ve also been mining case studies and observed animal bodies decomposing… What we’ve found out is that the story of human decomposition is about transformation, renewal, and change.”– Andrew Mottershead, The Creators Project, September 2016
Afterlife is funded by The Wellcome Trust and Arts Council England and advised by Forensic Anthropologist Dr. Carolyn Rando (UCL), and has been created using an audience-focused development process in London, Bristol, Brussels, Copenhagen and Turku, Finland.
‘Affective, evocative, great use of detail…The death described is vivid, compelling, illuminating.’ – participant feedback
‘Rather than being cast aside, the decaying body for once takes centre stage… As the narrative unfolds, we reluctantly graft its decomposing organs, muscles, tissues, bones and limbs onto our own body until we become one with it.’ – Agnieszka Gratza, Arts Writer