Air conditioning—the possibility of “fixing” the air’s temperature at will—is one of the oldest dreams of mankind. It means creating a world without heat or cold, rain or snow, without suffocating humidity or dusty winds. Climate control allows for a life without weather, without meteorological contingencies and surprises, extreme weather events, seasonal changes, or locally challenging climate conditions. Air conditioning creates what, by philosophers, geographers, and colonial medecine has long been lauded as a “temperate climate,” a climate adjusted to the culturally determined comfort zone of Northern European bodies. The talk will explore the history of this dream to “adjust the climate” in architecture, urban planning, and art. In order to understand the deeper reasons for anthropogenic climate change, we need to rethink the ways in which we have cut ourselves off the vagaries of the weather.
Eva Horn is a German cultural and literary scholar. She is Professor of New German Literature at the Institut for German Studies at the University of Vienna. Eva Horn is a member of the Executive Board Discussion Group Intelligence Association (GKND) in Berlin. In 2009 she was awarded the prize “Geisteswissenschaften International” of the Fritz Thyssen Foundation for her publication “Der geheime Krieg” (2007).