Media Environments:



In: Journal of Northern Studies

Umeå University and The Royal Skyttean Society

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Icebergs, at present, are living a second life on screens. While they are one of the natural world’s most photogenic objects, icebergs are also subject to modes of representation through parametric modeling applications. The purpose of this digital life on screens is largely confined to determining how, and under what conditions, icebergs can be made a source of potable water for the planet. Yet icebergs have a story to tell about the epistemological and economic production of northern natural resources. Distinct institutional actors, from oceanographers and military engineers to Saudi royalty and software design companies, have sought to control and come to know icebergs through specific practices of modeling. I argue that the representation of icebergs is a contingent practice that has often been bound up with processes of commodification. To come to know icebergs we have to come to know how these quintessentially polar phenomena have been represented and commodified, across the twentieth century and at a significant remove from the highest latitudes of the planet. The increasing pace of northern development, with natural resources at the vanguard of corporate and governmental incursions, signals the emergence of “media environments” that are extending the representation of (and control over) natural phenomena through a series of media technologies, from 3D modeling applications and collections of satellite data to virtual reality environments and predictive algorithms. Download Here.