The first idea we landed on focused on what the body goes through post death. This is something not often discussed as bodies tend to be cremated or hidden in a coffin soon after death, thus the general population tends not to be knowledgeable ballet the process, thus we thought about making this stage of life a bit more visible.

Decomposition mockup 1 • David Valente

Above is the first mockup we made of how this interface could work, or at least the general data and hierarchy. The five stages of decomposition would be accessible from a navigation pane on the left. An abstract visualisation of the body would be presented in a coffin. Select colour-highlighted organs and body parks would be accessible via click to reveal more information. This would be married to a literal representation on the right.

This interface demonstrated on of the core problems we would face with this idea. In the mockup is a real image of a decomposing head, that I had to blur to make this at all accessible. Otherwise this would just be about the shock factor.

In researching visualising the stages of decomposition we found this cupcake of a hand with each of the five digits visualising each of the stages. Translated to a digital interface, this could easily communicate each of the stages in a relatable fashion. As the hand already has the structure of each distinct stage.

Five Stages cupcake by Claire Ratcliffe

One limitation we found was the lack of fidelity in the graphics of decomposing bodies. As seen in this, only each of the stages as a still image is accessible, very few time-lapse esk levels of detail are available.

This (ppt),also provides similar images of a decomposing pig in stages. However, we needed to contextualise this for a human body, so we decided to abstract a bit further away, and hope to string the idea back later on.

The Huntairian Museum would be a good context for this project as we would digitally animate the exhibits on display, providing more context as to how the specimens arrived at their current state. Unfortunately, the museum is currently closed for refurbishment. I have visited it in the past, however, without being able to visit it in the context of this project, we deviated from contextualising it here.

As a resource for photographs of dead bodies, John Fass lead us to a project by Sally Mann where she was granted permission to photograph bodies in an American body farm.

“San Martín” 71×114 inch. (180x290cm). Oil on canvas. 2013

In the same time Kristina Iankova mentioned a similar project where artist Antonio Santin paints bodies under rugs an posts the images on Instagram. Rather than abstracting away from the unattractive site of a dead body, this project masks t behind another medium. This would be a bettie method to divide our interface into 2 sides. We could use a metaphor(suchas idea behind a carpet) to make it clear to the user what lies behind. We could also leverage the covering object to add additional information visually.

Photographer Joel-Peter Witkinfrequentlyuses dead body parts in the creation of his work’. This highlights a general theme with dead bodies in designed pieces. They tend to hold a sombre negative emotion. We wanted to be more neural and objective.

We found this thesis, that examined the objective role of body farms in the US. This was finally a source of informative and graphic content for decomposing bodies that we could expand on. These farms, mainly in the US, tend to be used re-enact deaths for police investigations. To begin with we started by visualising this digitally.

We found human body farms to be grounding for this project as it gave is the object side of dead bodies rather than shock.

Body farm mockup • David Valente

This interface would act like a series of doors, each revealing information about the investigation and story beneath.

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