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Strange Weather

Continuing a visual meme of late, above is a thick vermillion fog re-landscaping the city of Sydney anew. Writes The Sydney Morning Herald, “Sydneysiders have woken to a red haze unlike anything seen before by residents or weather experts, as the sun struggles to pierce a thick blanket of dust cloaking the city this morning.”

The photograph is just one of hundreds documenting this freak meteorological event. No doubt there will be thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, taken before the last grain of sand settles down. And as these images find their way into each and every blog in the universe, alighting twitter, Facebook and forums, and yes, even as they infiltrate the local evening news, the water cooler and the rest of old media, it's worth quoting again from Diller + Scofidio's Blur: The Making of Nothing.

When we speak about weather, it's assumed that more meaningful forms of communication are being avoided. But is not the weather, in fact, a potent topic of cultural exchange - a bond that cuts through social distinction and economic class, that supersedes geological borders? Is not the weather the only truly tangible and meaningful thread that glues us all together? Is not the weather the only truly global issue? In truth, contemporary culture is addicted to weather information. We watch, read, and listen to weather reports across every medium of communication, from conventional print to real-time satellite images and Web cams. The weather channel provides round-the-clock, real-time meteorological entertainment. Boredom is key. But boredom turns to melodrama when something out of the ordinary happens. Major weather events are structured like narrative dramas with anticipation heightened by detection and tracking, leading to the climax of real-time impact, capped by the aftermath of devastation or heroic survival.


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