The decadence and depravity of Biosphere 2

Biosphere 2 is an Earth systems research facility on occupied Tohono O’odham land (in so-called Oracle, Arizona, just north of Cuk Ṣon, so-called Tucson). It has a rather strange history. What started as a utopian project to test the feasibility of a closed ecological system for use in future outer space habitats, it ran into highly publicized scientific, engineering, and interpersonal problems—not to mention the bizarre fact that Steve Bannon was briefly involved after the failure of its first occupation.

I arrived at the Biosphere 2 for a conference in February of 2018. I grew up in Tucson and remember going on field trips there in the late 1990s. I was interested in seeing how the campus fared after 20 years, so I made sure to set aside some time during the conference to wander the grounds and record what I felt in my fieldnotes and through photos.

These photographs are mixed-format. They were taken with either my DSLR (a Canon T2i) or a Minolta X-370 loaded with Tri-X 400-ISO black and white film. Since this was an exercise in affect, I left both cameras on auto so as to hold my technical brain at bay; I only needed to adjust the f-stop on my film camera.

(Click images to enlarge and enter slideshow.)


Fisher, Mark. 2016. The Weird and the Eerie. London: Repeater Books.

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