To better understand the mind of the music icon, a Cultural Studies professor will spend a year living as David Bowie’s various personas, even down to imitating his diet and reading choices.
Professor Will Brooker, from Kingston University, has been commissioned to write about the life of the glam rock star, and has immersed himself in Bowie’s lifestyle, currently sporting the bright red wig and heavy eyeshadow of his 1974 Philadelphia soul period.
“The idea is to inhabit Bowie’s headspace 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,” says Brooker.
He has started his study from the late 60s era, when Bowie first made his breakthrough with Space Oddity. He listens only to the music the musician would have listened to, watches the films he did, and reads the same literature—including sci-fi, occult fiction, and the philosophy of Nietzsche.
Brooker has deprived himself of sleep and admits to only eating red peppers and drinking milk some weekends, to really live the life of the artist.
“If you’re reading some strange science fiction and books about magic you can kind of get into Bowie’s head and see it’s sometimes quite a strange place. A dangerous place, a place you wouldn’t want to live too long.
“So it’s fortunate that I’m going through his career chronologically. Because I think by 83 he was pretty clean. I think I’ll get a tan, get fit, get my hair changed again. Get my teeth whitened,” he said.
In a tweet, Brooker claims to have “dreamed a whole new Bowie song,” but forgotten it upon waking.
He hopes that the musician would approve of the experiment. “I hope he would be interested in and amused by my 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.”