TCS helps create Artist Jeff Wall's "Dead Troops Talk"

During the 1980s, Soviet Russia invaded Afghanistan, attempting to quell the Mujahadeen Resistance and occupy the country. The Resistance responded with guerilla tactics, sabotage, and land mines. After 9 years, the Soviets withdrew, leaving the country war-torn and shattered, with no one a winner, yet much lost on both sides.

Vancouver Artist/Photographer Jeff Wall is renowned for his gigantic color transparencies, combining actors, sets, crews, and digital manipulation into "one-frame cinematic productions". In 1992, Wall decided to distill a tableaux of the horror of a single moment of the Soviet-Afghan conflict. As a result, Dead Troops Talk was created.

"Dead Troops Talk" Cinematographic photograph © 1992 Jeff Wall
For a very large format, HD version of the work, click here or here

The work presents a scene in which "soldiers who have just been killed on the battlefield are re-animated, engaging with each other in what [Wall] describes as a 'dialogue of the dead'." source

13 Red Army soldiers are depicted; they've just been ambushed. In their frozen netherworld, they display various reactions to their wounds and fate: surprise, shock, despair, and humor. The wounds are graphic, explicit, and disturbing. One soldier, head in hand, seems to lament his fate, the side of his face ripped open by shrapnel, his shattered jaw exposed:

Another lies pale, having bled out from an obliterated right lower leg. A skinny recruit stares in silent horror at his surrounding comrades, seemingly unaware that his hands and the top of his head have been blown off, raw bone ends and brains visible:

Meanwhile a chubby infantryman fingers his disemboweled belly playfully while piggy-back riding another dead fool, who seems to play/tease with yet another casualty, who dangles a mutilated shred of flesh before them.:

The wounds, body parts, and makeup effects, as created by Rick Lazzarini and The Character Shop, were amazingly accurate and complex. TCS collaborated with Jeff Wall to develop the gory imagery to be incorporated into the scene. As research, Rick and his crew pored through graphic forensics imagery, studying sinew, bullet damage, bone fracture, ripped and shredded flesh. They then made life casts of the actors, sculpted the horrendous injuries with astounding realism, made molds, and produced final castings from foam latexes and polyurethanes. These were finished with incredibly realistic paint schemes and detail, down to individually punched hairs. Some items were done as prosthetics, others were standalone pieces that had to be positioned extremely precisely in space, and then added to the scene later, in a complex and groundbreaking (for its time) digital composition. Lazzarini and crew traveled to Vancouver for a week toWall's temporary studio, applying the pieces, painting blood, pouring blood, pooling blood, and spattering it, aging it with dirt, drying and cracking it with hair dryers, until the look was as authentic looking, and totally believable as possible. Hours had passed since their ambush, so the blood has long gone from bright, fresh reds to dark, coagulated maroons and dusty browns. As Film Director Guillermo Del Toro once remarked: "Nobody makes fake blood look as real as you do, Lazz!".

"Dead Troops Talk" exists as a giant Cibachrome backlit transparency, measuring 2290 x 4170 mm (7.5 ft tall by 14 ft wide), and was exhibited at the Tate Modern from October 2005 to January 2006.

The Character Shop is proud to have been contributed to the success of this work, and always provides a high level of enthusiasm, experience, creativity, innovation, and respect, whether the project is a Broadway Show, a film, a commercial, or an Artists' concept come to life.

Links to more articles and information about Jeff Wall's Dead Troops Talk:


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