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Advanced Architectural Theory / Egosphere / Lorenz Foth

02 22nd, 2021

EGOSPHERE by Lorenz Foth Egosphere is an animated short film by Lorenz Foth (2021). The intention of the film is to visualize irony in spatial (physical space) configurations. Initially it was meant to analyze different forms of `inhabiting uninhabitable spaces`, which would mean inhabiting spaces where special advanced technology and isolation would be required in order for the inhabitants to survive. Where the irony is very clear.

But after studying the works Spacesuit and the city (2008) by Nicholas de Monchaux; Placing outer space (2016) by Lisa Messeri; and especially the article Closed Worlds: The Rise and Fall of Dirty Physiology (2015) by Lydia Kallipoliti – the project directed itself more towards the topic and term ‘egosphere’. ‘Egosphere’ has many different definitions in many different academic areas and slangs. Therefore, the film presents its own definition for the term: Egosphere are the spatial conditions surrounding a being, enabling it to survive. The narrator of the film then lists a few examples of egospheres: ‘For a fish, it’s the water… For an alien allergic to earth it honestly might be anywhere… Except of course for earth…For humans living in cold places during cold times when it’s cold, It’s their heated homes… Or warm clothes… For humans enjoying extremely healthy weather conditions… It’s the earth’s atmosphere’. The focus is rapidly focused on more extreme egospheres, however, closed egospheres that cannot be breached: ‘They have to be completely sealed from the rest of the world. They must trap the egopeople (people) inside. Anything unexpected breaching in or out of the egosphere would result in probable death to the egopeople inside’ (narrator).

Plotwise, the film plays in an alternate universe, where some humans have developed deadly allergies to the world atmosphere. These humans are referred to as ‘egopeople’. The egopeople must live inside extreme egospheres. The film presents different types of egospheres: the ‘humaquarium’ basically a transparent box containing the egopeople (the design was heavily inspired by the film The boy in the plastic bubble (1976), directed by Randal Kleiser); ‘the egocities’: neighborhoods of small uncomfortable habitat units for the poor egopeople (the design was heavily inspired by SHEE Self-deployable Habitat for Extreme Environments (2016), https://www.shee.eu/main); ‘closed ecossystems’: large closed buildings with ‘natural’ environments inside (the design was heavily inspired by Biosphere 2 (1991) in Arizona) egosphere vehicles: cars that cannot be left by their inhabitants (the design was heavily inspired by the Mercedes model Vision ATVR (2020)); and egosphere suits: just like an astronaut suit.

Therefore, the film inspects static and moving egospheres, with the goal to show how much spatial freedom which type of egosphere enables.

The story construction and the film itself were heavily inspired by the experimental genre ‘essay film’, especially by the film La Jetée (1962), directed by Chris Marker. In these films, sort of fictional stories are told in form of documentary narrations, displaying several images and very short video clips in form of a slideshow. The films of this genre have a very ironic tone and present many arguments in rather comical ways. The same goes for ‘egosphere`, where i.e. the alien allergic to earth, mentioned in the quote above, is one of the comical aspects. Furthermore, the film plays with the scale of the egopeople – using their size in relation to the volume of given egosphere – as a metaphor for their happiness with their current spatial situation. The irony of the topic is presented in the end, as the narrator says: ‘The ultimate egosphere to explore as much space as possible turned out to be the smallest possible egosphere. A suit. Tailored exactly to the proportions of the egopeoples bodies. The egopeople inside egosphere suits can move und travel anywhere anyone else can… And even beyond. Don’t let the irony of the egosphere confuse you. Trap yourself in the smallest possible space to enjoy the maximum of space possible!’

References

Books: De Moncheaux, N., 2008, Spacesuit and the city, JSTOR, New York. Messeri, L., 2016, Placing outer Space, Duke University Press, London.

Articles: Kallipoliti, L., 2015. ‘Closed Worlds: The Rise and Fall of Dirty Physiology’, Routledge: Architectural Theory Review, vol 20, pp. 67-90.

Films: La Jetée. 1962. [Film]. Chris Marker. dir. France: Argos Films. The boy in the plastic bubble. 1976. [Film]. Randal Kleiser. dir. USA: Spelling-Goldberg Productions.

Online Content: SHEE Self-deployable Habitat for Extreme Environments. 2016, SHEE, viewed 26 January 2021, <https://www.shee.eu/main/>. Biosphere 2 in Arizona. 1991, Biosphere 2, viewed 26 January 2021, <https://biosphere2.org/.> Mercedes model Vision ATVR. 2020, Mercedes Benz, viewed 26 January 2021, <https://www.mercedesbenz.com/en/vehicles/passenger-cars/mercedes-benz-concept-cars/vision-avtr/>

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