chapter  3
13 Pages

Zombie erotics

Zombie publics create a third-generation zombie horde quite different from their filmic and textual doubles. When zombies assume the living form of a crowd, the semantic and libidinal elements condensed in the figure of the zombie are re-embodied in a crowd, ritualised in a festival and rerepresented in a new form of visual capture that redoubles the mediatised world of zombie. This complicates matters as I discovered when taking photographs of zombies at zombie parades. There’s something very distinctive about a photograph. To begin with it is still. It doesn’t have the poetic mobility of a film, novel or computer game, nor does it have the living, fluid form of a parade. Photographs snatch a split second out of reality freezing it and giving it duration. Sometime this capture allows us to see things that would go unnoticed. I imagined that I would take photographs of the zombies at

the Adelaide zombie parade and use them in the little book I was writing on zombies, but something happened that made me wonder just what I was doing. In the late afternoon the zombies

gathered to picnic, promenade and pose for the dozens of photographers who were shooting at liberty. No ‘Please may I?’, just a free for all – clicking away as close as you dared – as a zombie on a microphone urged all the photographers to upload their photographs on the Zombie March Facebook page as soon as they got home. It was a street photographer’s dream. Before the march I had checked with the organisers on whether I needed to register as a photographer but there was no registration system in place and no permission forms. Given the prevalent paranoia about photographers ‘taking’ unauthorised photographs, this photographic free-for-all seemed part of the long tradition of rule breaking associated with carnival. You can buy a T-shirt on the web that says ‘Photography is not a crime’, but once I was at home uploading my photographs I found myself in a crime scene of my own making. It happened when night had fallen and the zombies had

moved out of the park to begin the long march across town. Shooting a moaning, gesticulating zombie mass on the move and in the dark is well beyond my technological know-how so I had switched from manual to automatic and begun shooting blind. It was only later that night, as I scanned the images on my computer screen, that I saw her. Those eyes! She’d been moving too fast for my shutter to capture and was little more than an apparition of swirling reds and golden light, but I pared back the colour and there she was. An unquiet image, unsettling, bewildering. A child, twice dressed. Once, in the pink sparkling satin of a fairy costume. Once, blood soaked in the aftermath of horror. Kids today are familiar with zombies. ‘Zombies’ is a favourite

game at the crèche, and there is a mountain of zombie children’s fiction written to provide an imaginary escape from an upsetting reality. But there was something more than fantasy or game playing afoot in this photograph. A ‘something more’ that transformed the fantasy act of a child dressing up as a figure from a horrorstory into a story of horror finding expression through a child.