Januar 2010 San Diego, California
Islands – Biological Paradises of Artificiality
Islands are supposed to be topoi where human subjects project their fantasies on, of better worlds, idealized communities and new societies. They also function as projective surfaces of human fears of getting lost, of being confronted with the deepest impulses of the unconscious. In an experiment, a situation is established where, as Michel Serres has pointed out in the North-West-Passage, order comes to a critical point of collapsing, where death lures around the corner and urges someone, something to change perimeters locally so that a new order can emerge. Therefore the main strategy of handling the experimental situation is about analyzing and redefining boundaries of whatever kind.
In my proposal I am also interested in boundaries but concerning a different aspect of „the island“, namely, it’s biological materiality which is too easily identified as „nature“. Always already contained in the – doublebinded – process of appropriating „nature“ through rationality and technicity since thousands of years in the Western World, the island itself becomes this ideal of „immaculate“, „unaffected“ „natural“ space in the first place. More and more the concept of the biosphere has to be moulded into a closed space, exactely because it has already lost its status of „mother earth“ (Gaia). Nevertheless it is still an absolute existential feature for human existence. Therefore it has to be saved/contained by any means, usually by technical reproduction, and transported somewhere else. It is no wonder then, that the biosphere as an bio-organical island is mostly seen in the SF-genre.
I am specifically interested in the ways this concept of „nature“ and „biosphere“ is represented in film, especially in US-movies from the1960ies as a culmination point of modern technophilia to the 1990ies as the era of postmodern simulated hyperreality. I want to explore the different strategies of defining this closed space: from necessary supplement to civilization (Battle beyond the Stars, 1963), to absolute existential entity for human survival (Silent Running, 1971), to a space of explicit reproduction with no more pretensions of beeing „natural“ (The Fifth Element, 1997).