JOUR FIXE with Ralo Mayer
‘The Ninth Biospherian’: Performative Research and a Model of New Ecologies
From 1991 to 1993 eight people lived in Biosphere 2, a closed miniature world in the desert of Arizona. The unprecedented
experiment had two research goals: a better understanding of the global ecology of our planet and testing future self-sustaining
space colonies. While the controversial project had been a huge media hype at its time, it is all but forgotten today.
By approaching the history and context of Biosphere 2 with the method of performative research, it can be interpreted not only as a miniature version of Earth’s biological ecologies, but also as a model for cultural, technological and political transformations of the past decades. In this sense Biosphere 2 can be viewed as a temporal hinge, connecting the alternative and utopian movements of the 1960s and 70s with the various global changes after 1989. The point of departure for these investigations is the imaginary science fiction novel The Ninth Biospherian, which is translated into various types of media. The talk will address performative aspects of models and science fiction as well as questions of artistic research practices in contrast to academic and journalistic practices and will connect Biosphere 2 to a broader notion of ecology outlined by Bruno Latour and other object-oriented philosophies.
Ralo Mayer studied conceptual art and lives and works in Vienna. His work revolves around the constructed antipodes of nature
and society, whose relationship he explores through a broad range of topics like post-Fordist realities, the history of space
exploration and science fictional accounts. Employing dramatic means like script, roles and props, his performative research
aims to transcend established investigation routines, leading to unruly translation monsters between various media. From 2003–2008
Mayer has been a fellow at the self-organized Manoa Free University, where he also started the on-going research series How
To Do Things With Worlds about the creation, use and interpretation of models. Since 2007 he has been working about the closed
miniature world of Biosphere 2, on which he is currently preparing a feature-length film together with Oliver Gemballa. Once
in a while he manages to publish the shape shifting SciFi magazine multiplex fiction.