The Living Dead
by Marleine van der Werf
Are you your body, or do you own it?
Rose is a character based on real stories. She suffers from Cotard syndrome, also known as Walking Corpse syndrome or Cotard delusion. It is a rare mental disorder in which the affected person holds the delusional belief that they are already dead, do not exist or have lost body parts. Although there have been links to depression, scientists do not know what causes the syndrome.
Obviously, suffering from Cotard syndrome can be very distressing and questions the most basic assumptions we have about ourselves. Do we exist in our bodies or is this just a shell, and if so, could we isolate our consciousness? Neuroscientists and physicians believe that Cotard patients are the key to unlock the mystery of where our consciousness is located.
The multi-sensory installation The Living Dead is a 10-minute personal journey in which you feel what Rose goes through, from a first-person perspective. The installation uses wearables, sound, smell and virtual reality to immerse the audience into the story of the patients. The central element is a floating tank. During the journey, the participant slowly disconnects from their (virtual) body. The narrative will end with Rose’s disembodied experience.