INFRARED IMAGINATIONS AND CLOUD-TRUTH: CLASSIFYING WEATHER IN THE SATELLITE AGE

Charlotte Scott

Abstract


Like sex, weather is a social creation. Indeed, we talk about the weather more often than we talk about sex, and, as for most natural processes, society has created structures of meaning that define atmospheric change in human terms. These meanings evolve as technology and scientific thought progress, creating new ways of experiencing the weather and of literally seeing the sky. In modern, enlightened times, the weather has become subject to thorough classification, formulation and social regulation via new techniques of atmospheric observation and scientific processing. As the technocultural eye sees the atmosphere differently, ideas about what the weather means also change. Berland notes that the “most brazenly unruled of all the cyclical processes of ‘Nature’ turns out to be shaped differently by our different imaginations, and now haunts our material symbolic expressions through inversion, distortion, condensation,and absence” (1999). The endless sky becomes an endless seriesof digitized patterns and formulas, whose earthly results nonetheless connect to the most visceral and emotional centres of human consciousness.

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