It’s his corpse but it’s not him is the second iteration of the dark room series. At the entrance a sign reads: “It’s his corpse but it’s not him. Please, take your shoes off. It’s a bare feet space.” The audience should experience the piece individually. Two thirds of the floor is covered in metallic mesh, leaving the area of the entrance completely clean. The electric mesh is divided in two parts, connected to a 300-volt circuit. When they stand up in the middle of the room, visitors feel a shiver through their bodies.
Following my first experimentation with heat and sound, this piece explores another way to directly affect the body. It works more like a Polaroid of a moment, which is to say that this sensation doesn’t last beyond the limits of the room. The room is quiet; there is nothing except the cold mesh on the floor. The visitor starts to walk over the metallic mesh. He takes two steps, exploring the walls with his hands. He steps forward and when his toes touch the floor, a buzz suddenly runs up his back. When he presses the mesh with his feet, the buzz disappears. Everything happened in less than a second. After that, he looks for the door and leaves the room.
The title, like all of my pieces, grounds the work in everyday life. Even though looking at a dead body is not very common, everyone will face this experience at one moment or another in their lives. In my case, it was the moment I met my grandfather’s dead body.
People come into the room barefoot. This creates a new interface with the piece: the sole of the foot. This new situation, added to the darkness, forces us to recalibrate our five senses, distributing the attention we give to sight to the other four and generating a more haptic experience. We don’t use our feet for perception. Most of the time we have them completely covered by socks and shoes. The connection between our naked feet and the corpse works as a metaphorical encounter between two bodies. There are two moments for men when it is socially acceptable to be naked: when we are born and when we die. For women, additionally, when they give birth. Our feet establish a dialog on these terms, being naked to make the connection closer.
The use of electricity addresses the meaningful role that electricity plays in our body. Pain is just an electric impulse affected by the brain. The small discharge that we feel is just an example of that principle. Another interesting element is our relationship with electricity. We have a lot of preconceptions about its dangers, therefore when the visitor perceives the electric shock all his or her cautions are activated, creating an agitated atmosphere. In this direction, some people connect this piece with the Painstation machine that generates painful sensations while the user is playing the classic “pong” arcade game.64
It’s his corpse but it’s not him explores the connection between suffering and pain through the use of a 300 volt circuit that the visitor closes when he puts one foot in each part of the mesh. Even through all they feel is a slight buzz, visitors have a shocking experience.
Images: Plan of the Installation, Detail I, Physical Sensation.