After Life

Breaking the mould: A new TV series shows the fascinating process of food rotting

After Life: The Science of Decay is a forthcoming documentary on the UK’s BBC Four that promises to “explore the grotesque nature of decomposition”. The key scene is a family barbeque… There are dozens of programmes about lions and tigers and living things,” observes Fred Hepburn, the producer of the programme that to be aired in December. “But there’s not very much that shows the other side of natural history. It’s so important to life, and we tend to take it for granted.”

After Life it will recount the ongoing experiment that Hepburn and his team – including the renowned zoologist and television presenter, George McGavin – have been conducting inside a giant glass box at Edinburgh Zoo.

For six weeks, the box has been set up with a fully equipped kitchen and “garden”. The scene has been set for a family barbecue – chicken left out, burgers ready to go on the grill. The only difference is that the family are mysteriously absent, the contents of their barbecue left untouched.

The idea, Hepburn explains, has been to simulate “the normal conditions of a house during summer”. Temperature and ventilation are being carefully controlled, and a typical quantity of flies, beetles and insect larvae were left in the garden. The effect is that of some post-human world: eerie and stinking of decay.

Throughout the process, 12 time-lapse cameras are being trained on the “rot box”. When the experiment is completed at the end of September, the footage will be compiled into a 90-minute-long film…..

The Independent: Read the full article here