When the phrase “take a walk in their shoes” is thrown around, it’s often used figuratively as a way to explain what it takes to fully understand someone. A university professor is taking this phrase quite literally for his latest research project.
Will Brooker, a professor of film and cultural studies at Kingston University near London, plans to dress as David Bowie’s various personas for an entire year in order to get a better understanding of the artist. To really get the mindset of Bowie during each era and persona, Brooker will dress as one specific persona for months at a time.
For his research project—titled “Forever Stardust”—Brooker isn’t just simply dressing in costume. He will also adapt David Bowie’s diet and specific interests from each era. In order to complete the full experience and transformation, Brooker will also travel to each of the destinations that helped to inspire each of Bowie’s personas.
However, completely embodying a new persona while maintaining his own identity in order to proper study David Bowie will be no easy task for Will Brooker. “The idea is to inhabit Bowie’s head space at points in his life and career to understand his work from an original angle, while retaining a critical and objective perspective at the same time – a kind of split persona perhaps,” Brooker told NME.
Will Brooker has been using his personal Twitter account to document his Bowie journey and share the process with others. Social media adds a different level of complexity that should make his research that much more interesting. This project may be a learning experience for those, perhaps like some of his students, who are too young to really know much about David Bowie. It hasn’t seem to have reached the eyes and ears of David Bowie yet but Brooker hopes that Bowie would be “interested in and amused by” his research. “I do feel, though, that everything he says and does in public is performance, so if he did hear about it, we would be unlikely to know what he genuinely thought.”