Extra-Terrestrial Ecologies (Retroflectors: the astronaut, the robot, the alien)

Ralo Mayer´s film deals with the oikos – with the house that is wanted, and therefore home, and haunted, and therefore not a home. In the absence of a foundational nature and in the presence of various post-human bodies – both more insistent than existent in their traces and remains –, we see oikos´ ecology turn into hauntecology. It´s all a matter of being together; which begs the question: with whom?

Mayer´s witty essay, high on associations, traverses materials that look and feel like residues from a history of space ecology and experiments in biospheres: videos from laboratories, television snippets with news from the world of science, movie scenes sedimented in children´s consumer cultures; the latter feature massively. To these bodies that matter, quoted from sci-fi classics such as Blade Runner and E.T., something is supplemented, something equally categorical. One of Mayer´s names for this something is "The Ninth Biospherian" – a supernumerary cohabitant of Biosphere 2´s human crew of eight. Is this the embodiment of all the weight lost by these eight as they feed only on what they cultivate on waste (as Ridley Scott´s Martian does)? Spherians are joined by specters that haunt and disjoint the home. This concerns most the very home that Mayer first constructs for us, weaving a liveable scape out of familiar images, scores and inserts, only then to perform – silently running – little escapes into ghostly effects. The drone image of bizarre automobile wreckages, overgrown with (edible?) plants: Is this a scene from Scott? Or does it show the ruins of the auto repair shop run by Mayer´s parents? Rust never sleeps. The filmmaker enters the image, emulating the very nerdy habitus of a researcher which he highlights about the specimen-gathering robots and aliens gathered in his film.

It´s all about auto repair – self-healing of the Earth. Even more since this process is thwarted by political systems beyond repair. Among them are the other nine-eleven(s): On November 9th, 1989 – 9.11.1989 in European numbering –, the first TV report on Biosphere 2 goes on the air, while the Socialist biosphere goes down in history; at least, the Berlin Wall comes down the same night. And there is that banker named Bannon, Steve Bannon (rather than Dan O´Bannon), whom we see taking over the biosphere project long before he took over the White House. Lost Futures. It´s rather spooky, or unsettling, as Mayer prefers to call things, and that feeling comes from the fabulation of the montage. This is a film made of Sequoia sequences and unsettlements, in the front projecting aka shining of linkages, such as the Nirvana hit song that E.T. listens to on his car radio while driving through Arizona. Smells like... terra farming. (Drehli Robnik)

Orig. Title
Extra-Terrestrial Ecologies (Retroflectors: the astronaut, the robot, the alien)
43 min
Ralo Mayer
Orig. Language
Ralo Mayer
Concept & Realization
Ralo Mayer
Ben Pointeker, Ralo Mayer
Supported by
adocs.de, BKA. Kunst
Available Formats
DCP 2K flat
Aspect Ratio
Sound Format
Dolby 5.1.
Frame Rate
24 fps
Color Format
colour, b/w
Digital File (prores, h264)
Festivals (Selection)
Jihlava Documentary Film Festival
Graz - Diagonale, Festival des Österreichischen Films
Perth International Film Festival - Revelation
Melbourne - EFFA Environment Film Festival Australia
Lissabon - Indielisboa Int. Film and Videofestival
Hamburg - Dokumentarfilmwoche
Olomouc - International festival of science documentary films