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Designing for Death
Designing for Death
Whitney Roan
Research Team
Any Experience.
David Bowie.

David Bowie's passing was a unique experience, as he released his final album, Blackstar, just days before. Rather than mourning, his fans celebrate his life and new work. His farewell feels more like a celebration, providing a sense of peace for those coping with the loss.

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The web has been inundated with news about David Bowie’s recent loss in the fight against cancer. Days before his passing he released his final album, Blackstar.

Articles began to appear claiming this release was not a coincidence, but rather a thoughtfully executed plan on the part of the artist. He had known the time would come where he would have to say goodbye, and rather than some contrived press- event Bowie did what he has done best for decades. He planned a grand farewell, and thank you, for those that had loved and supported him. Many articles have done deep dives into the meaning behind the lyrics, the symbolism in the final music videos (here’s one example).


I wanted to take a look at the experience that was David Bowie’s passing. While most celebrity deaths can be felt and heard worldwide, this was unique. While it is hard to say what Bowie hoped the outcome would be, I would argue that it has been more of a celebration than a mourning compared to other artist’s passings.

I can’t help but think of the mass of fans that gathered around Seattle Center after Kurt Cobain had committed suicide. The thought conjures images of sadness, hurt, loss – and perhaps that is inclusive with the nature of Cobain’s death. It seems like so often we mourn the passing of rock stars in this way (recently: Lemmy Kilmister, Scott Weiland, Joe Crocker, Wayne Static – just to name a few ? ). In my opinion, it feels like Bowie wanted to steer away from that sentiment. While his loss is still undeniably heartbreaking, he has left us with something to celebrate. A new collection of work (Blackstar) to remember him by and music videos that seemed to share the sentiment of “I know it’s coming, and I’m ready.” I believe this adds a kind of peace for fan that are dealing with the loss.


Banner art by craniodsgn.

Published on January 13, 2016

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