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Accepted Paper:

Biosphere 2 & the Architecture of Closed Worlds  
Elie Danziger (Laboratoire d’Anthropologie Sociale, EHESS) Perig Pitrou (CNRS-PSL)

Paper short abstract:

This paper renders the history and legacy of Biosphere 2 under the lens of the media archaeology leading to and following from such an imaginary of a closed or controllable living world, as well as the role currently played by images themselves in the very architecture of this nature-culture device.

Paper long abstract:

Biosphere2 is an experimental site built to reproduce a closed ecological system in the desert of Arizona. Its inception and legacy can be traced within a wider media archaeology of architectural forms aiming at crafting miniature, closed yet global/total systems in an attempt to exert some form of control over a profuse environment. A first claim for this paper concerns the way in which such a mediatisation directly participate to a cognitive and aesthetic apprehension of systems in a closed and controllable manner. This idea, based on a media archaeology of the architecture of closed worlds, will be further supported by recent ethnographic data on the role played by images in the making of institutional and ordinary life at Biosphere2. Our paper especially focuses on how the mythical imaginary of the 1990s missions that took place in the dome influences current formulation of ecological experiments at Biosphere2. In this sense, it will address both 1) images produced by Biosphere2 in order to function and create living conditions inside the dome (e.g. screens allowing a communication with the outside, and “windows” within the building to foster an internal perspective), and 2) the circulation of images outside of Biosphere2 in the media and visual culture, in particular in relation to planetary scales, with the idea of Earth being the first closed biosphere. Overall, our paper thus addresses the pragmatics of images, how their institutional ecologies, and their historical echoes participate in the making and the apprehension of a cybernetically closed artificial ecosystem.

Panel P14
Controlled Environment Facilities and the Visualisation of Future Human Society
  Session 1 Thursday 9 June, 2022, -