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On January 1st 2016, a few months before the United States presidential elections, spectators at an annual parade in Pasenada, CA suddenly had their attention pulled to the sky. They watched as hundred-foot-tall letters were drawn there with white puffs of smoke to form a series of short sentences, including: “America is great,” “Trump is disgusting,” and “Anybody but Trump.” Readable for only a few minutes, the sentences soon vanished into thin air. The commissioner of the communication stunt, millionaire Stan Pate (a supporter of Marc Rubio), had chosen a technique known in the skywriting industry as “digital skywrit- ing” to intervene in the Republican primary, making use of the sky as a space of mass com- munication. He later told CNN’s Gregory Krieg, “Skywriting is a huge billboard and it grabs people’s attention. There were probably a million people in the street.”

About the author

Ghislain Thibault
Ghislain Thibault is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at the Université de Montréal. In 2019, he was a ZeMKI Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Bremen. He received his PhD in 2010 from the Université de Montréal before pursuing postdoctoral work at Harvard Uni- versity. Appointed as an Assistant Professor at the Department of Communication Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in 2011, he later joined the Université de Montréal in 2015. His current research project explores the notion of aerial communication from a media history perspective. His recent work in the cultural and material history of media and on the history of philosophy of technology has appeared in journals such as Canadian Literature and the Canadian Journal of Communication, Con- figurations and VIEW.