APOCALYPSE: A solitary greenhouse is the final outpost on Earth in Ben River’s prophetic science fiction-scenario, which stages the uncertain fate of the planet: deserted, with this greenhouse as its last remaining habitable place.
Anders Dunker
Dunker is a Norwegian philosopher, and regular contributor.
Published date: June 30, 2017

Distant and dreamily, a female voice declares: “We must all die; nor leave survivor nor heir to the wide inheritance of earth. We must all die! The species of man must perish…”

The words are taken from Mary Shelly’s apocalyptic science fiction fable The Last Man (1826). Through the unclear mist on the screen, an image of a strange and enormous greenhouse in a desert comes into view. Soon the film intercuts between various surveillance cameras from inside the greenhouse, and we see different growths climbing around one another in an interior, contained  world. As the voice speaks, the narrative premises fall into place: She is a scientist, perhaps the last one there is. She is trapped in the greenhouse, once constructed as a closed biosphere and currently  the only habitable place left, since the climate gone haywire, turning Earth’s atmosphere into a poisonous fog like on the planet Venus. The emerging image is extreme; soon the greenhouse seems like a small compartment on Spaceship Earth, the only habitable cabin on a planet which, like a giant version of the Titanic is drifting dead and depopulated into the cosmic night.

Urth. Ben Rivers

Looking through the eyes of the last human being, the greenhouse images change: the trees become the last trees, the fish the last of the animals, and grass a mere biological souvenir. Simultaneously, we understand that what we are witnessing is a log – perhaps a lost document from the almost sweetly resigned naturalist, who day by day tries to stay alive. When she registers the imbalance between oxygen and carbon dioxide, we understand that the creeping emergency in the greenhouse repeats the global climate catastrophe in a microscopic and insignificant aftermath. Everything is already too late, and the story appears at first glance as a poetic meditation on the transience all things.

«The greenhouse appears as a small compartment on board Spaceship Earth, as the only habitable cabin.»

The real story. Ben River’s art film may be science fiction, but it has a documentary-like atmosphere and is …

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