In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviewed by:
  • Climatic Media: Transpacific Experiments in Atmospheric Control by Yuriko Furuhata
  • Weixian Pan
Climatic Media: Transpacific Experiments in Atmospheric Control by Yuriko Furuhata DUKE UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2022, 256 PP. PAPERBACK, $25.95 ISBN: 978-1-478-01780-6

Many recent works, including Yuriko Furuhata's Climatic Media: Transpacific Experiments in Atmospheric Control, have emerged from a deep concern for our present time, which is marked by both planetary climate crisis and dependency on computational media. Yet very few authors share her ambition to trace how we got here: the transpacific genealogy of atmospheric control across the United States and Japan since the twentieth century, a genealogy that not only operates across scales but also brings together seemingly distant histories of atmospheric science, architectural design, environmental media, cybernetics, and empire-building. For Furuhata, a media studies approach to various forms of climate engineering, which she theorizes as "climatic media," holds both methodological and analytical significance. The book sets out to expand the definition of media to include "the materiality of elements that condition our milieu" while also encompassing "the architectural, scientific and artistic techniques and technologies" that actively mediate and shape our atmospheric and living environments (3–4). This goal puts Climatic Media in conversation with the environmental and elemental turn across the humanities and science and technology studies.1 But even readers unfamiliar with these specific debates would still find this book's thoroughly researched scientific and artistic history of climate thought-provoking. "Climatic media" as an overarching framework also reveals the book's core argument: the diverse experiments of weather modification and microclimates on both sides of the Pacific since the twentieth century not only were inseparable from the legacies of imperial expansionism but also anticipated and influenced later developments in smart cities, urban networked surveillance, space exploration, and data infrastructure.

One of the book's greatest takeaways comes as an entwined logic: efforts to technologically monitor, alter, and condition the earth's atmosphere are the same as the efforts to condition the social conduct of people. From regulating our everyday living environments (such as our offices and apartments through air-conditioning, weather prediction, and modification) to designing a dome city and space colony suitable for human habitation, these efforts share the same thermostatic desire to control climate. In turn, these atmospheric experiments rely heavily on networked systems of computing to govern the behavior of urban populations while securing the comforts of a select few. Furuhata reminds us that this biopolitical governance through air must, in the Foucauldian sense, be interpreted within the complex geopolitics of climate engineering both prior to and during [End Page 214] the Cold War. In each chapter, Furuhata carefully lays out the geopolitical dynamics that make such atmospheric thinking and engineering possible, and by revisiting works from Japanese thinkers such as philosopher Watsuji Tetsuro, architect Tange Kenzo, and mathematician Ikehara Shikao, she offers an invaluable genealogy of concepts often assumed to have taken shape in Euro-American contexts, such as geopolitics, climate, spheres, and cybernetics.

The book's first two chapters together set up how atmosphere became "an object of calibration, control and engineering," an epistemological shift that draws heavily from philosopher Peter Sloterdijk's notion of "explication" in the atmosphere through poison gas and via the weaponization of weather in the twentieth century (2). Chapter 1 discusses site-specific outdoor weather control through Japanese environmental artist Nakaya Fujiko's fog sculpture, an art piece conceptualized for the Pepsi Pavilion at Japan's Expo '70. Furuhata sees Nakaya's work as an example of climatic media and a convergence point between earlier practices of "visualizing atmospheric phenomena" and scientific practices of "engineering the atmosphere" to produce artificial weather such as fog, rain, and snow (27). The story of artificial fog-making, as the chapter shows, invokes the militarized history of weather modification before and during the Cold War in both the United States and Japan. On the other hand, site-specific artificial weather finds its afterlife in sustaining the daily operation of cloud computing and data centers. Chapter 2 then leads the reader to think further about the production of customized microclimates through air-conditioning. These artificial...