“Cinematic Arkitecture: ‘Silent Running’ and the Spaceship Earth Metaphor”

‘Earthrise,’ taken from Apollo 8 December 24th, 1968 by astronaut William Anders.
By Matthew I. Thompson

Excerpt: “The power of the Spaceship Earth metaphor comes from the suggestion that the earth is in fact a small, closed system within a black void. A spaceship is a tightly controlled life-support system with just enough resources aboard to ensure survival for the duration of the mission. Any long term stay on a spaceship requires strict regimes of conservation, recycling, and cultivation. The Spaceship Earth metaphor is a hybrid of ecological and technological discourses. As Sabine Höhler (2015) states in her book Spaceship Earth in the Environmental Age, ‘A hybrid of Gaian organism and planetary technoscience, Spaceship Earth needs to be seen as a veritable “cyborg” metaphor, a figure that symbolically and materially dissolved political and social contradictions and conflicts’ (18). Spaceship Earth is a challenging metaphor to map, as it can seem to simultaneously maintain and collapse the distinction between the environment and human technology. On the one hand, it imagines that the spaceship is distinct from the planet, granting technology the ability to solve ecological problems. On the other, it acknowledges that technology and nonhuman nature coexist within the same environment, so integrated that it has always been hard to say where nature ends and culture begins.” Read full article here