As we’re currently in production for Living On: Zombies (the third volume of Incognitum Hactenus in which we make the position to re-contextualize, consider, and represent the zombie figure), I have zombies on the brain. And this 2004 film Afterlifers: Walking and Talking by Halflifers (artists Torsten Zenas Burns and Anthony M. Discenza) fits the bill, addressing the post-culture life after the pop-culture knowledge of the zombie.
Particularly interesting is their notion of “zombie architecture” or “zombie space” – a existing zone where people and objects “become zombie” – in relation to Shaviro’s term “zombie time” in his “Contagious Allegories” where he says:
The slow meanders of zombie time emerge out of the conventional time of progressive narrative. This strangely empty temporality also corresponds to a new way of looking, a vertiginously passive fascination. The usual relation of audience to protagonist is inverted. Instead of the spectator projecting him-or-herself into the actions unfolding on the screen, an on-screen characters lapses into a quasi-spectatorial position. This is the point at which dread slips into obsession, the moment when unfulfilled threats turn into seductive promises. Fear becomes indistinguishable from an incomprehensible, intense, but objectless craving.
In considering a zombie-space and zombie-time we perhaps might tap into the way in which these narratives fold in on themselves, addressing the fear of the viewer while also basing this fear on an acknowledged fiction. Unable to speak or articulate, the zombie has become the language we use to address the unspeakable: this craving, this need for representation.
The work of Torsten Zenas Burns is currently on view at the Dumbo Arts Center in Brooklyn.