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Vince
Talbot

The Nine Stages of Decay

Project details

Year
2020
Programme
Animation
Practices
Autonomous
Minor
Hacking

‘The Nine Stages of Decay’ is my attempt to portray death in a new way – my original aim in my exploration of the decaying body was to discover if a certain sense of contemplation could be achieved through it’s depiction.

Nominee Drempelprijs Autonomous Practices

For my graduation project, I have created a film titled ‘The Nine Stages of Decay’, a modern interpretation of the Japanese art style: kusōzo. This film is an exploration of the stages in which the human body goes through after death. The film confronts the audience with a metaphorical depiction of this graphic journey. Using rotoscope animation, digital painting and close editing based on the soundtrack, the film creates an intense and strange experience that should be viewed in an underground nightclub environment. Therefore, I have also created a virtual experience of the film- a 360 panoramic film, where my aim is to offer a heightened sense of involvement and intimacy for the viewers at home.

Kusōzu is a graphic Japanese art style that depicts the decomposition of a female cadaver. It is derived from a traditional Buddhist doctrine that encourages contemplation on the nine stages of a decaying corpse and used as a subject for devotional practise. Kusōzu translates to ‘Pictures of the Nine Stages of a decaying corpse.’ The paintings are based off ‘Kusokanshi,’ a series of poems known as the ‘poem of the contemplations on the nine stages of a decaying corpse,’ attributed to Kukai (774-835) and Su Tongpo (1063-1101). In traditional Buddhist teachings, meditating on death is a vital practice.

Death is not something that the modern-day individual is unacquainted with; we are exposed to it in abundance throughout our lives and in popular culture. I believe the relationship formed from these experiences are far from profound and foster a detachment to death. The sheer magnitude in how death is portrayed may offer an insight into mortality, but it is a commodity- often an enjoyable, stressful, heart whelming or painful experience, but a passing and distant consideration nonetheless. In this project, I explore approaches towards death and decay that focus upon reflection and contemplation, with a focus on the 16th century Buddhist artform kusōzo. I intend to offer a nuanced perspective of death and decay.

‘The Nine Stages of Decay’ is my attempt to portray death in a new way – my original aim in my exploration of the decaying body was to discover if a certain sense of contemplation could be achieved through it’s depiction.

Within this project I position myself as a visualiser and creator. The stages illustrated in kusōzo have laid the foundation for my film- acting as an initial script and storyboard. I explore the use of cinematography and editing, storyboarding and directing. I have based the structure and layout of my film on the nine stages of kusōzo, whilst the art style and visual design has formed from my own exploration and interests, experimentation and research.