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The Meteorological Occult: Submergences in the Venetian Fog

Ifor Duncan    Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, Italia    



Blinking away fog as it collects between eyelashes – this article begins with a night walk in Venice and a reflection on an embodied encounter with countless suspended water particles. Here I consider fog as a political materiality in an expanded cultural and meteorological context, where, rather than simply limiting visibility, fog acts as an unexpected lens onto slow forms of pollution. In doing so, I turn to the scientific term ‘occult deposition’ – the settling of unsensed pollutants carried by fogs, mists, clouds, dew, and frosts onto surfaces, vegetation, and skin – and adapt it to develop the concept of ‘occult meteorology’. By doing so, I work towards reorienting the cultural significance of the occult. With this reorientation, instead of limiting human sensing, or harbouring unknown and threatening supernatural presences, fog is the intensity of sensing, relationally mediating through eyes, mouths and skins. Here bodies are submerged in everyday and imperceptibly polluted environments even above the surface of water, while fog disorients vast infrastructural systems, from commercial flight to petrochemical logistics. Thinking alongside Esther Leslie and Craig Martin, this article brings earth sciences into encounter with literature and cinema to attend to fog as both metaphor and materiality in the context of environmental degradation.

20 Dicembre 2021
19 Novembre 2021
28 Luglio 2021

Keywords: EmbodimentSubmergenceWeatherEnvironmental sensingEnvironmental mediaMeteorologyVenice

Copyright: © 2021 Ifor Duncan. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.