Atmosphere and Place

The concepts of atmosphere and place denote concrete material-geographical domains as well as spheres of affect or ambience. One may speak of a place or the atmosphere, but one also has a sense of place; a room is charged with an atmosphere of anticipation; revolution is ‘in the air.’ Considered in a phenomenological register, atmosphere and place are dimensions of experience modulated by architecture, technology, politics, history, and social practice. At the same time, they are scientific objects delimited and defined by the sciences of geography, geology, ecology, meteorology, climatology and atmospheric physics. In the context of climate change and growing understanding of the profound impact of human activities on Earth systems, the material properties of the atmosphere and the geosphere are urgent matters of concern (cf. Latour 2004). In light of these concerns, a contemporary humanistic approach to atmosphere and place must comprehend how these physical systems simultaneously operate as social, aesthetic and political spaces. Initiated at the Synthesis Center at Arizona State University in 2015, an ongoing transdisciplinary inquiry into the theme of Atmosphere and Place explores how we enact and engage environments from the quotidian to the theatrical, the constructed to the wild and the local to the global.