In-mobility: On limens, free falling and our escape from Earth

The rise of interplanetary performance.

It is May 2011, and Honor Harger is giving a TED Talk. She closes her eyes and, as Jamiroquai might have it, begins travelling without moving. She is listening to the sounds of the universe from millennia ago. The following year, on 14 October 2012, Felix Baumgartner is at the extreme border of our planet. He breathes in, jumps down, and then takes nine minutes to land. Two years later, on 24 October 2014, Alan Eustace goes even further. He jumps from the edge of the stratosphere and his free-fall lasts fifteen minutes. The planetary limen is now a performance arena. Harger, however, continues to listen.

Whatever goes up must come down, and as above, so below.

Almost fifteen years have passed since Jon McKenzie published in his classic Perform or Else an account of liminality and performance as a global norm. In this paper, I examine these literally liminal performances to ask what updates McKenzie’s account needs, in light of the reawakening of the space race and the rise of interplanetary performance.