Visions, speculations and dystopias: a deep dive into Spaceship Earth

SPACESHIP-EARTHThe Capitol and RMIT University present an online event series for space junkies, eco-futurists, and lockdown existentialists this November.

The lineup includes a screening of Matt Wolf’s stranger-than-fiction documentary Spaceship Earth (2020), plus a two-day provocation covering climate resilience, earthly dystopias, speculative fictions, life on Mars, eco-futurism, astrofuturism, and the social experimentation emerging from the experience of being locked down in our own private biospheres at home.

Tune in for a live panel discussion on Thursday 5 November with Professor Michelle Gee, Director of the Sir Lawrence Wackett Centre for Aerospace Design Technology, speculative fiction writer Dr. Rose Michael, and speculative designer Dr. Ollie Cotsaftis – all from RMIT – followed by a masterclass with NYC-based director Matt Wolf on Friday 6 November. The talking events screen at thecapitol.tv.

Spaceship Earth by Filmmaker and Guggenheim Fellow Matt Wolf, showcases the journey of eight visionaries who in 1991 spent two years quarantined inside a self-engineered replica of Earth’s ecosystem in the Arizona desert called Biosphere 2.

The experiment set out to explore the viability of establishing human existence on other planets but the ‘biospherians’ faced life-threatening ecological disaster, interpersonal tensions and a growing criticism from the outside world that it was nothing more than a cult.

Wolf’s film stitches together present-day and archival footage – drawn from over 600 hours of material – to tell this almost unbelievable moment in history, at the time a worldwide media sensation, but which now seems to be the stuff of science fiction.

In our present state of social isolation and with concerns over global warming and ecological preservation an urgent reality, this thrilling, utopian experiment is even more fascinating and relevant than when the biospherians first launched themselves into their Earth-bound geodesic dome.

“While making this film, I never could have imagined that a pandemic would require the entire world to be quarantined,” said Wolf, who premiered the film at Sundance this year. Like all of us today, the biospherians lived confined inside, and they managed day to day life with limited resources, often under great interpersonal stress.”

Matt Wolf is a filmmaker in New York. His critically acclaimed and award-winning films have played widely in festivals and have been distributed internationally in theaters and on television.

Wolf’s feature documentaries include Wild Combination about the cult cellist and disco producer Arthur Russell, and Teenage about early youth culture and the birth of teenagers. His recent film Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project is about the activist Marion Stokes, who secretly recorded television 24 hours a day for 30 years.

“If you thought spending a month indoors binge-watching Netflix and ordering delivery was some sort of gruelling quarantine ordeal, imagine being sealed inside a giant glass terrarium in the Arizona desert with seven other people for two years, all while operating a self-sufficient farming project and managing a working replica of the Earth’s ecosystem.” – ABC


The screening of Spaceship Earth takes place virtually with DocPlay. The conversation and masterclass take place virtually at thecapitol.tv. All event links sent with registration.

Image: The biospherians of Spaceship Earth (supplied)

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