This essay explores cultural, environmental, material, and political testimonies of the Gleiwitz radio tower constructed in the 1930s near the border of Germany and Poland (today Gliwice). As the tallest wooden structure of its kind in Europe, the mast has over the last century witnessed several turbulent geopolitical transitions. Those, in turn, have systematically redressed its functions to serve various, often radically competing intentions: from spreading Nazi propaganda before and during World War II to jamming frequencies of West European radio stations during the communist era. Recently, the site has become subject to conspiracy theories related to 5G infrastructure allegedly installed on the mast’s no-longer-functional structure. Attending to the concept of pharmakon that pertains to inherently mixed properties of a medium, this essay traverses these diverse historical trajectories and explores a disparate range of reverberations, events, and effects that this radio mast and its unique material affordances have over time instigated not only across human but also other-than-human realms, scales, and temporalities. Understanding media as mediations, while drawing on the case of the Gleiwitz radio mast, I take an approach in which radio becomes an instance of radiant mediation and hence radiation. This move enables us to see radio as an event that is always-already implicated in and informed by a specific climate and its transformations: environmental, social, and geopolitical, to name but a few. Consequently, the article puts forth a reading of pharmakon as a highly relational and unstable phenomenon, never an intrinsic feature of a given medium or media infrastructure. Traversing the complex history of the Gleiwitz radio mast, the essay brings to the fore key moments during which this relational reading of pharmakon of interest here becomes particularly illuminated.

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