In 1968 the American military launched Operation Igloo White (OIW), seeding the mountainous forests of the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos and Vietnam with a network of seismic, olfactory, and auditory sensors that picked up and relayed signals to data bunkers in Thailand where enemy locations were mapped in real time. The author argues that operating in such a continually evolving, mosaiclike environment required the American military to develop a fine-graine attunement to the forested trail in which they could track an elusive enemy. Attunement, or this intimate spatial knowledge, was both a media habit developed and enforced through sensors and their monitoring of environments, as well as a form of a priori knowledge required to develop and operationalize sensors in a forested space (in the first place). The operation, and thus this essay, writes a history of media habits and practices like militarized attunement—in which the capture of textured environmental data (of the forest) becomes tethered to the capture of the enemy. The author narrativizes this militarized attunement to the forest via deployment (the attunement to forest and its biogeographical considerations that shape sensor-embedding practices), detection (the registering and interpretation of the sensory data of the forest and the enemies in it), and deception (the use of camouflage and the tactical deception to the sensors the North Vietnamese respond with)—the three sensory practices that roughly map onto the biography of OIW itself.

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