Making Art Inside Biosphere 2
Biosphere 2 Residency
Biosphere 2, Oracle, AZ (Artist Residency, 1 week)
In the early 1990’s, eight “Biospherians” entered Biosphere 2. They would live in a self-contained ecosystem for 2 years. This research project was one-of-a-kind, captivating a global audience. The goal was to see if humans could live and survive in a man-made world, one that replicated our very own Biosphere 1 — the Earth.
As the artist-in-residence, I gained access to all parts of the facility, retracing the steps of the Biospherians with behind-the-scenes walking tours of newly developed research projects. Additionally, I was invited to meet with scientists, host collaborative workshops, and make art inside the Human Habitat.
The Biosphere 2 is an experimental apparatus housing seven model ecosystems with active research about sustainable living. It contains a tropical forest, ocean, upper savanna, coastal fog desert, and human habitat. A vast network of machinery beneath the ecosystems known as the “technosphere” regulates temperature, ocean currents, rainfall, data collection, communications and more.
What I find most appealing about Biosphere 2, is that it proves just how difficult it is to replicate Earth’s systems. We underestimate the complex interplay of biological, geological, atmospheric, technological, and social facets that make life possible. It took billions of years to evolve these complex and connected systems, after all!
During the residency, I made a series of puzzles that connected biomes together. Each puzzle piece depicted nature as well as intricate technologies that regulate the facility to maintain life. These puzzles revealed that nature and technology are required to restore and sustain balance within the Biosphere 2.
Is nature and technology required to sustain life on Earth? Technology is one of the biggest threats to the natural world. It has caused significant damage, pollution, waste, and destructive impact at a global scale. Yet, as we learn to sustain life and reduce the effects of climate change, technology may be the best option to tackle these global challenges.
The Biosphere 2 revealed that technology, scientific inquiry, and biomimicry are fundamental for building a sustainable environment. If we mimic natural processes, we can preserve, restore, and extend life on Earth and beyond. What we learn here, we can model somewhere else, extending life on other planets. How far can we go? How long can we last? What can nature teach us? Is nature our greatest technology?