This essay dwells on atmosphere as a mediating, climatic environment to consider climate as the nexus of mind, medium, and society. An inquiry into atmosphere, I argue, opens up climate from an objective entity into a constellation of aesthetic, infrastructural, and epistemological operations. I situate this richer notion of climate in China during the Second World War and its immediate aftermath by focusing on “doubt” as a unique atmosphere caught in the transnational traffic in media practices, psychological war, and genre film. Through an intimate conversation between aesthetics and technology, hermeneutics and media ecology, this essay conducts an experimental climatology to consider climate not simply as a physical milieu but as a method. Such a climatology—bringing together infrastructural analysis, aesthetic design, and sociopolitical projects—will allow us to engage “global climate change” and “affective climate change” as interconnected and integrated projects of sustainability.
Hermeneutics of Doubt: Atmospheric Knowing and an Ecology of the Mind
Weihong Bao is Associate Professor of Film and Media & East Asian Languages and Cultures, UC Berkeley. She is the author of Fiery Films: The Emergence of an Affective Medium in China, 1915–1945 (University of Minnesota Press, 2015), which received honorable mention for the Modernist Studies Association Best Book Prize in 2016. She is currently working on a new book, Background Matters: The Art of Environment in Modern China. She is the editor-in-chief for the Journal of Chinese Cinemas and co-edits the Film Theory in Media History book series published by Amsterdam University Press.
Weihong Bao; Hermeneutics of Doubt: Atmospheric Knowing and an Ecology of the Mind. Representations 1 February 2022; 157 (1): 142–172. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/rep.2022.157.7.142
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