Associate Professor
Department of Communication and Media Studies
Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada

“Earth as Medium, or Is the Earth an Optical Medium?”
FRIDAY, APRIL 15 • 10:15-11:15a
Walter Lippmann and John Dewey Roundtable
FRIDAY, APRIL 15 • 1:00-3:15p

Chris Russill studies how we observe, know, and govern imperceptible environmental processes through media that register, record, and process otherwise undetectable environmental changes. His work in this field focuses primarily on the imaging of the atmosphere with respect to tropical cyclones (hurricanes), ozone depletion, and climate change. He is especially interested in efforts to integrate diverse observational techniques into the design of early warning systems, a North American fascination since the 1950s that has produced a wide array of what he call “precautionary media.” Precautionary media are systems that anticipate and approximate events to aid preparedness and security strategies (e.g. forecasts, warnings, alerts, and public health monitoring), as opposed to ‘indexical’ media, or media that claim to represent reality. He published an edited collection of articles on related topics involving Google Earth, digital globes, drones, radar, sonar, GPS, missiles, and satellite imaging in the Canadian Journal of Communication, titled, Earth Observing Media. His work focuses primarily on the strategies used to either amplify or dampen urgency via scientific and public discourse. Russill has published work on NASA, UK/US climate security initiatives, New Zealand’s Kyoto Protocol strategies, The Weather Channel, and Climate Central. Russill is currently working on a book titled, Earth Fix, which examines the century-long development of an optical media infrastructure designed to register sunlit space as an environmental threat.