Atmospheric Media: Computation and the Environmental Imagination

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2022

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Abstract

Atmospheric media are techniques and technologies for the rationalization of air. They take many forms, from the meteorological media of weather maps and satellites, to the infrastructural media of ventilation and climate control, to the embodied media of the breath. This dissertation explores these atmospheric media as fundamental conduits for the cultural work of managing the air, and in turn, for managing climatological catastrophe. Through readings of diverse media objects, from electronic literature and science fiction to 3D printers to air conditioning in data centers, “Atmospheric Media: Computation and the Environmental Imagination” argues that scientists, artists, and laypeople alike have come to imagine the air as a computer, one that they might program as a way out of environmental crisis. Braiding interdisciplinary insights from environmental media studies, literary studies, and the digital humanities, this dissertation explores how computation smooths over atmospheric difference with the standardization of data, and in doing so, further imperils our shared skies.

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