Weather Control: Dubai’s Sunny Mountain Ski-Dome as an Allegory of the Future
Weather control is a familiar object of pre-modern ritual and magical practices, but it also appears in one of the earliest works of science fiction, Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. Here, however, rather than being directed toward renewal, it has become turned toward habitat destruction.
The relevant section tells of the airborne island of Laputa, which levitates free of the terrestrial surface. In part a parody of Francis Bacon’s scientific utopia The New Atlantis, Laputa is populated by scientists who live by tributes received from the unfortunate people over whose lands the island floats. If these are withheld, Laputa can hover above the offenders, depriving their region of light and rain and thus plunging it into drought and famine.
This talk will read this long history in relation to contemporary technologies of – and aspirations for – weather control. It will reflect on the ever-increasing militarization of weather foreshadowed in Swift’s tale, announced in the contemporary military project to “own the weather”, and the concomitant privatization and commodification of what had hitherto seemed the very emblem of freedom, the air itself.
Weather control plays an important part in the history of techno-utopian speculation, in which it often takes on a remedial character. In this thinking it is almost as if weather is alienation, or at least a fundamental expression thereof, and that to get back together again, to break the ice in whatever way we mean (with one another, with nature, with ourselves), we need to get the climate right.
The talk will conclude by reflecting on the transformations of this imaginary through Buckminster Fuller, Reyner Banham, and beyond, into our era of global atmospheric anxiety and privatized air. Here we will focus on an emblematic project – the Sunny Mountain Ski-Dome project for Dubai.
This, more clearly than any other example, points toward a future of privatized atmospheres, one which has shifted from earlier models of utopic de-differentiation towards an urbanism of heightened and spectacularized atmospheric relations that increasingly take on the character of a commodity-form in their own right.
When: 5-6pm – Weds, March 19th, 2014
Where: CIID, Toldbodgade 37b, 1253, Copenhagen K, DENMARK
There are limited seats for this lecture so please sign-up by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org (with ‘Dorrian’ in the subject line)