B.W. Powe, Author & Associate Professor

The Medium and the Light Award for 2022

The recipient of the eleventh Medium and the Light Award, in recognition of the ecumenical dimensions of the life and work of Marshall McLuhan, was presented on Thursday, July 7 virtually, as part of the 23rd Media Ecology Association (MEA) Convention usually held in person (for the first time since 2019) at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro with the overall theme of “Celebration”. This was the fifth time that The Medium and the Light Award was conferred at an MEA Convention, the previous years being 2014, 2017, 2020, and 2021

B.W. Powe is the recipient of this year’s award in recognition of his overall body of work as author, poet, storyteller, professor, researcher, and teacher, that so masterfully and imaginatively captures the restless spirit of McLuhan probing “an unsuspecting media ecology that he wears like his own skin, a membrane integral to his own being.” In other words, BW cannot help but shed so much light on the media of his observed worlds that can help lead us out of the vortex of technological determinism. Well, it’s a bit of a Mysteria, which is, appropriately the title of his latest book. His last book (illustrated with street art photos by Marshall Soules), The Charge in the Global Membrane ( 2019, NeoPoesis Press), has won two awards thus far: the MEA Marshall McLuhan Award for the Outstanding Book in the Field of Media Ecology in 2021; and a York University Research and Innovations Award in 2022.

The award is usually given annually by the Marshall McLuhan Initiative that was affiliated for its first decade (2007 – 2017) with the Jesuit St. Paul’s College at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada. The University of Manitoba was Marshall McLuhan’s first post-secondary alma mater, where he earned a BA in English and Philosophy and the Gold Medal in Arts for 1933, as well as an M.A. in English Literature in 1934.

The raison d’être of The Medium and the Light Award, inspired by the book The Medium and the Light: Reflections on Religion by Marshall McLuhan and edited by Eric McLuhan and Fr. Jacek Szklarek and published posthumously in 1999, is “to recognize a person, group, or organization that has made a significant contribution to ecumenical communication inspired by observations and ideas originated by Marshall McLuhan.”



Special Issue: Digital Humanism and the Future of Humanity 

This special issue edited by Wolfgang Hofkirchner and Hans-Jörg Kreowski contains full paper proceedings of the workshop organised by the Institute for a Global Sustainable Information Society, Vienna, Austria, together with the Forum Computer Professionals for Peace and Social Responsibility, Bremen, Germany, held at the online Summit of the International Society for the Study of Information on September 14 – 16, 2021.

Global challenges present existential threats to humanity. These are threefold: technological, ecological and social. All of them are subject to the logics of development that have become outdated. Mankind has become so interdependent that the fixation on means of power, the anthropocentric position over and against nature and the self-centredness of social actors cannot guarantee survival, not to mention human flourishing – they even jeopardize such aims.

The papers gathered here revolve around the following questions: What is the role of technology in that context? What is the role of IT, of ICTs, and of AI? Are the promises of what is hyped today as digitalization purposeful to avoid pauperisation and extermination? If a change of thinking is needed, is Digital Humanism perhaps a candidate for the new way of thinking? Digital Humanism claims to redirect development of digital technology toward a human(e) shape. The workshop was held to explore that matter and the contributions compiled in this special issue do so over a vast panorama of ideas. They try to give evidence of potentials of digitalisation to further the good while warning against impacts that are detrimental to the preservation and proliferation of civilized life on earth.

PUBLISHED: 2022-06-22

ARTICLES



Northern Sparks

Innovation, Technology Policy, and the Arts in Canada from Expo 67 to the Internet Age

By Michael Century

An “episode of light” in Canada sparked by Expo 67 when new art forms, innovative technologies, and novel institutional and policy frameworks emerged together.

OVERVIEW

Understanding how experimental art catalyzes technological innovation is often prized yet typically reduced to the magic formula of “creativity.” In Northern Sparks, Michael Century emphasizes the role of policy and institutions by showing how novel art forms and media technologies in Canada emerged during a period of political and social reinvention, starting in the 1960s with the energies unleashed by Expo 67. Debunking conventional wisdom, Century reclaims innovation from both its present-day devotees and detractors by revealing how experimental artists critically challenge as well as discover and extend the capacities of new technologies.

Century offers a series of detailed cross-media case studies that illustrate the cross-fertilization of art, technology, and policy. These cases span animation, music, sound art and acoustic ecology, cybernetic cinema, interactive installation art, virtual reality, telecommunications art, software applications, and the emergent metadiscipline of human-computer interaction. They include Norman McLaren’s “proto-computational” film animations; projects in which the computer itself became an agent, as in computer-aided musical composition and choreography; an ill-fated government foray into interactive networking, the videotext system Telidon; and the beginnings of virtual reality at the Banff Centre. Century shows how Canadian artists approached new media technologies as malleable creative materials, while Canada undertook a political reinvention alongside its centennial celebrations. Northern Sparks offers a uniquely nuanced account of innovation in art and technology illuminated by critical policy analysis.

From the Preface…

“This book reveals how a uniquely Canadian story can provide a fresh angle on a well-established narrative. Northern Sparks is about the intersecting histories of technological innovation, new media arts, and government policies in Canada from the 1960s to the early 1990s. It portrays this period as an “episode of light” sparked by an intense national awakening following the international success of the media-rich 1967 world’s fair in Montréal during the nation’s centennial year. The opening
conjuncture of the arts, technology, and political consciousness elicited an exceptionally broad range of outcomes that go beyond notable artworks or new technological systems and tools. Poised as a “counter-environment” to the great powers, in Marshall McLuhan’s phrase, Canada’s unique experience of the transitional decades into the information age was grounded in a technological ethos that emphasized sensorial immediacy, embodied interaction, and improvisatory expression. This alternative ethos was situated between a pair of distinct yet inextricably bound forces, one national political and proper to Canada, the other techno-mediatic and global in scale. The unraveling of these forces by the late millennium reveals innovation itself as a complexly drawn process comprised of multiple layers with fluctuating degrees of synchronization”…

BOOK DETAILS
Paperback
Published by The MIT Press, Leonardo series
Jun 28, 2022 | 280 Pages | 6 x 9 
ISBN 9780262045001

AUTHOR

Michael Century,
a musician and media arts historian, is Professor of Music and New Media at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He founded the Media Arts program at the Banff Centre for the Arts. See a detailed biography of Michael Century here: http://www.nextcentury.ca/bio.html

ENDORSEMENTS

  • “Musician and cultural theorist Michael Century delivers a virtuoso orchestration that blends and personifies a polyphony of artistic and technical expressions, site-specific experiments, and institutional rhythms in a compelling history of Canada’s impressive three decades in the crucible of culture and technology.”
    – Sara Diamond, President Emerita, Ontario College of Art & Design University (OCAD University)

  • “At a time when technological solutionism (Silicon Valley style) and collapse seem to offer the only remaining narratives after postmodernism, Michael Century’s extremely well researched book on the origins and becoming of a (truly Canadian) ‘alternative technological ethos’ is both timely and necessary. Northern Sparks is a must-read for those who wonder how artists can still participate in such a contested space.”
    – Thierry Bardini, Professor, Université de Montréal

Canada’s Expo-67 in Montreal




To Marshall McLuhan

 

You were right, dear professor,

the great vortex came in time

whirling us

into the pond

in which Narcissus saw his

                         beauteous reflection.

 

No longer an extension

of the hand, the mouth, the ear,

no longer a tool,

but an obsession, a possession

Narcissus mesmerized by his own image

                         till he lingered

and perished.

 

In the dispiriting cafés

in front of our Apple screens—the apple was

once a fruit, now mechanized, and bitten

like the original—

                          the seductive bite

that drove us out.

 

Narcissus solitary and non-conversant,

transfixed by the still and moving image,

his words clipped—non-words,

language diminished—Buckle!

 

You had said Buckle!

is the most important word

                              in The Windhover.

We have buckled—not to the spirited bird—

but to the maelstrom

 

our mechanical bride,

                   the great seduction,

the wind from the subway grate

                    blowing and whirling her wondrous dress!

 

Once we were discernible

even in front of TV sets, even in the subway trains,

reading the newspaper or a book

avoiding invasive eyes, stealing a look

                                    at a man’s jaw or a woman’s dress;

each inward, in possession of one’s own thoughts,

idle daydreaming—till we got off at our

STOP.

 

O prof, I’d rather be in the painting by Renoir—

                      Luncheon of the Boating Party—a finer and more

textured impression than any photograph:

the chatter in French seduces my ear,

the wine glasses clink,

the breeze from the river flaps the striped canopy

of the Maison Fournaise,

the men lean on the women beauteous to them;

                              le bonheur of 1881…

the good hour.

 

Copyright © Silvia Falsaperla

Published by the League of Canadian Poets, June 2022
at https://poets.ca/to-marshall-mcluhan-by-silvia-falsaperla/

Silvia Falsaperla writes poetry and fiction. She has completed
a poetry manuscript, a hybrid chapbook of poetry and short
stories, a children’s picture book, and is currently working on
another collection of poetry and short stories. She works and
lives in Toronto.


Silvia Falsaperla


Out of School: Information Art and the Toronto School of Communication

By Adam Lauder, PhD

A unique look at the artists inspired by the Toronto School of Communication and the rise of an information society.


Through a series of focused and interconnected case studies, Out of School explores the long history of information art associated with the Toronto School of Communication. It highlights the perspectives of artists inspired by the speculations of Marshall McLuhan and colleagues as well as the philosophical underpinnings of the Toronto School’s ideas about information.

Using pre-Internet media such as telex and the telecopier, the artists explored in this book materialized visionary concepts of information without the aid of computers. Harbingers of contemporary digital culture, Bertram Brooker, N.E. Thing Co., Robert Smithson, Wyndham Lewis, General Idea, and other artists approached information as something embodied, sensorial, and social. Art historian Adam Lauder recontextualizes this qualitative philosophy of information in relation to quantitative discourses and methodologies, which these creative figures make visible – sometimes inadvertently or satirically – through artworks that operate at the interface between art and business. While exploring how utopian information ontologies struggled to account for markers of identity and difference, including Indigeneity, gender, and sexual diversity, this book also highlights instances when information art was able to carve out spaces of agency and resistance.

Offering an essential reassessment of the legacies of the Toronto School of Communication, Out of School broadens the network of practitioners connected to the school to include visual artists active both within and beyond Canada. In doing so, it proposes that artists made significant contributions to theory in their own right.

DETAILS: Part of the McGill-Queen’s/Beaverbrook Canadian Foundation Studies in Art History Series (number 39 in series)
– 320 Pages, 6 x 9
– 42 photos
– ISBN 9780228010869
– June 2022
– Formats: Cloth, eBook

Source for this information: https://www.mqup.ca/out-of-school-products-9780228010869.php#!prettyPhoto

About the Author: Adam Lauder is a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at York University in Toronto. He obtained a Ph.D. from the Graduate Department of Art at the University of Toronto in Fall 2016. His current research employs the non-aesthetics of Laruelle to study Canadian information art in the 1970s, as artists began exploring new scientific frameworks and modalities of “fiction.” He has contributed articles to scholarly journals including AmodernArt DocumentationCanadian Journal of CommunicationFuture AnteriorImaginationsJournal of Canadian StudiesTechnoetic ArtsThe Journal of Canadian Art HistoryTOPIA and Visual Resources as well as features and shorter texts to magazines including Art HandlerBorder CrossingsCCanadian Arte-fluxFlash ArtHunter and Cook and Millions. He edited H& IT ON (YYZ, 2012), featuring original art by the pioneering information artist IAIN BAXTER&, and is the author of chapters appearing in Finding McLuhan (2015), The Logic of Nature, The Romance of Space (2010) as well as Byproduct: On the Excess of Embedded Art Practices (2010).



Jacques Ellul (1912 – 1994)

Dear Ellul Society Friend

Our Montreal Conference on The Arts, Culture and the Environment in a Technological Society: Revisiting Jacques Ellul is less than three months away! Location: McGill University, downtown Montreal. We are excited to have a number of arts-related events scheduled in tandem with the conference, including film, art exhibitions and music performances. See below.

As this email has all the latest information and links, please pass it on to others who may want to attend, as well as to relevant university departments (arts, music, media culture, etc.)  For a fuller description of events and program features, you can download this first item:

Montreal Conference Email Promotion PDF
Montreal Conference Poster Flyer PDF
REGISTER for the Conference
Conference Lodging Information Sheet
Main webpage for Montreal Conference

Please register if you can by mid-May. If you can’t make it, please help promote the event by forwarding this email to others.

Keynote speakers are David Lovekin and Samir Younès who jointly prepared the English edition of Ellul’s most sustained reflection on the arts: The Empire of Non-Sense: Art in the Technological Society.  Also, avant-garde filmmaker R. Bruce Elder will be present to show his 1981 expeiremental film “1857 Fools Gold”.  Plus, jazz by Egyptian Cotton Arkestra, Jewish Euro-folk by Black Ox Orchestra, and Korean percussionist Dong-Won Kim. (Tickets.)

On July 7 is a pre-conference symposium, “Music and Antifascism: Reflections on the Past and Possibilities in the Present.”   On Sunday July 10 is a post-conference guided tour of a special exhibition: “Feedback #6: Marshall McLuhan and the Arts” which features elements of McLuhan’s innovative and publishing practices, indeed his “live scholarship” which was roundly scorned by his colleagues.

My goodness, I just set a record for number of links in one update.

Ted
Ted Lewis
IJES Executive Director
Duluth, Minnesota, USA
ellulsociety@gmail.com

“McLuhan was a new type of scholar for the electronic age who saw that art has a unique capacity for comprehending the powers of media. Artists, he believed, acted as radars that allowed the public to grasp the imperceptible psychic, sensory and social effects of technologies.”  (SOURce)
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CURRENT ISSUE

Vol. 2 No. 2 (2022): New Explorations: Studies in Culture and Communication – PUBLISHED: 2022-04-04
ARTICLES

VIEW ALL ISSUES

Source: https://jps.library.utoronto.ca/index.php/nexj


The McLuhan Centre for Culture & Technology


WIRED 1.1 – The first issue (March/April 1993)
By Nick Ripatrazoni

Raised Catholic, Kelly had since drifted from religious faith—until that morning. Fourteen years later, Kelly was the founding executive editor of Wired magazine—and Marshall McLuhan was on the masthead as the magazine’s patron saint. Kelly has said that his Easter conversion resulted in, as he puts it, “a logic, comfort, leverage that I have because of that view.” It’s a formulation that feels much like the structuring element of faith for McLuhan.

McLuhan’s appearance on the masthead might be a quirk or a wink of the technology magazine’s staff were it not for the faith of Kelly—and how that faith has influenced his vision of technology. Kelly has argued that “technology is actually a divine phenomenon that is a reflection of God.” Technology, for Kelly, offers us another way to try to understand the impossible: at our best, we might only apprehend God as metaphor; even with all the “artificial intellects we make,” we might only have “the slightest glimmer of who God is.”

God made his way into media theory through McLuhan, whether it was recognized or not.

Kelly had a clear supporter in the Catholic-raised Louis Rossetto, the cofounder of the magazine and the one who recruited Kelly to the editing position. Rossetto rejected the idea that Wired was a magazine about technology. As he wrote in a short manifesto within the first issue, the magazine “is about the most powerful people on the planet today—the Digital Generation. These are the people who not only foresaw how the merger of computers, telecommunications, and the media is transforming life at the cusp of the new millennium, they are making it happen.”

Wired debuted with volume 1, issue 1 in March/April 1993. On the cover, an unfocused close-up of Bruce Sterling is set against a teal background. McLuhan’s name appears on the cover, advertising a conversation between Camille Paglia and Stewart Brand. On the right side of the cover, “The Medium…” trails off to the edge, parallel with a neon-pink tab that, if you follow the page, leads to a spread that quotes McLuhan from The Medium Is the Message: “The medium, or process, of our time—electric technology—is reshaping and restructuring patterns of social interdependence and every aspect of our personal life. It is forcing us to reconsider and to re-evaluate practically every thought, every action, and every institution formerly taken for granted. Everything is changing you.” The lines languidly stretch across the pages, as if McLuhan were lounging in his office sofa at the Centre for Culture and Technology.

Wired Magazine’s Masthead, Issue 1.1 (1993)
The Brand and Paglia conversation is anchored in McLuhan’s identity as a lost prophet. Paglia talks about how she was influenced by McLuhan. His books were assigned to her at Binghamton University in the mid-1960s. “What’s happened to him,” Paglia wonders. “Why are these people reading Lacan or Foucault who have no awareness at all of mass media? Why would anyone go on about the school of Saussure? In none of that French crap is there any reference to media. Our culture is a pop culture”…
Read the rest of this article at:
https://tinyurl.com/yckzn8k7

On the right side of the cover, “The Medium…” trails off to the edge, parallel with a neon-pink tab that, if you follow the page, leads to a spread that quotes McLuhan from The Medium Is the Message: “The medium, or process, of our time—electric technology—is reshaping and restructuring patterns of social interdependence and every aspect of our personal life. It is forcing us to reconsider and to re-evaluate practically every thought, every action, and every institution formerly taken for granted. Everything is changing you.”
WIRED MAGAZINE 4.01 January 1996 


Social media doodles elements

By

Media theorist Marshall McLuhan suggested that each media-related extension of man comes at the expense of another organ. For example, by increasing reliance on visual media, we lose touch with oral communication.

McLuhan also formulated the laws of media which states that all media aim to extend the body, and when they do so some media become obsolete, some get revived and when a new medium is pushed to its limits, it reverts to an early version.

McLuhan’s theories take on a new significance as we witness a reversion of social media, which I refer to as “tribal media.” By this, I mean media that reflects a fragment of a society consisting of like-minded people within specific political, economic, cultural and personal parameters.

Social media has now been around for two decades, and has been treated with ambivalence since its inception. The global COVID-19 pandemic may have pushed social media to its limits, and reverted it to an earlier version: chatrooms.

Until a few years ago, one of the greatest worries about the internet was how addictive it could be. However, when we studied the relationship between screen addiction and stress, we found a silver lining: There was a possibility that addiction to screens helped reduce the emotional burden of other stressors, such as financial worries or relationship problems.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced a different consideration of whether or not social media use produced stress and anxiety. Those who were searching for the potential harms of screen addiction on brain development now had to contend with life and work activities moving online.

Pandemic reversal

In March 2020, our research team used the occasion of the pandemic to explore whether social media causes or relieves stress. We asked respondents about the change in their patterns of different media usage as a result of the pandemic. One year later, we repeated the same question. What we found was a significant change in the nature of people’s interactions with social media — users avoided what was perceived as sensational and political content, but gravitated towards building community.

We observed this trend in another independent analysis of how older adults used social media and communications technology to cope with public health measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We found that, for them, social media and new platforms such as Zoom were important only in as far as they connected them to their own families and communities.

The pandemic made social media and communication platforms the inevitable extension of us. But by bringing us into this forced global embrace, it may have also forced us to split along tribal divisions — what anthropologist Gregory Bateson refers to as schismogenesis. These divisions occur because of, and are exacerbated by, increasing conflict in communications about contentious topics such as lockdowns and mandatory vaccinations…
Read the rest at https://tinyurl.com/4bx7wc3z
Source: https://tinyurl.com/4bx7wc3z

About:
Researcher, Director of Media-Health/Game-Clinic laboratory, Concordia University. Naj is a research associate at McGill University (McGill Centre for Integrative Neuroscience) and Concordia University (engAGE Centre for Studies in Aging). For her research, she has received funding from FRQSC-AUDACE. She is the founding director of Media Health Laboratory and the Game Clinic, which are dedicated to examining the implications of new media technologies in public health.
*****
Twitter Spaces is an example of how a social media platform has reverted to an earlier version of online social communication.


Description:
The Medium is the Massage Side A & B digitally remastered for the 100th Anniversary of Herbert Marshall McLuhan; with Marshall McLuhan Long-playing Record produced by John Simon. Conceived and co-ordinated by Jerome Agel. Written by Marshall McLuhan, Quentin Fiore, and Jerome Agel. Columbia CS 9501, CL2701 (1968). This is the companion LP to McLuhan’s book with the same title.

Background:
Most characteristic of the interficial mode Higgins supported at SEP is, as Peter Frank suggests, The Medium Is the Massage (1967), which McLuhan coauthored with designer Quentin Fiore. By this point in his career, McLuhan was referring to these texts collectively as his ‘”non-books'” (EU 267), and the function of Fiore’s design is precisely to break down the linearity, sequentiality, and visual space values associated with the book. Fiore’s design of The Medium Is the Massage (and of War and Peace in the Global Village) draws on his training with George Grosz, who was influenced early in his career by Dada, Futurism, and Cubism, moving rapidly in the direction of satire with a number of portfolios whose drawings mocked the ruling classes and the military. Grosz was also among the earliest proponents of photomontage, and it is this element that is most powerfully present in the work of Fiore. As Klaus Honnef has written, montage is ‘a symptomatic formal and structural principle of artistic development since the end of the undisputed supremacy of perspective as “symbolic form.”‘ Montage was the creation not simply of a new space, but of the conditions for the production of new kinds of spaces. These new kinds of space lacked homogeneity, rationality, clarity, and objectivity (Honnef 50). For the fixed eye of perspective, montage substituted the moving eye, thereby introducing temporal elements into spatial representation. In addition to the influence of Grosz, Fiore’s work bears some similarity to that of Grosz’s student and collaborator, John Heartfield. As Heartfield’s work – much of which was devoted to book covers – demonstrates, the development of photomontage was inseparable from the rise of the mass media. In Heartfield’s particular case, it was also inseparable from Dada, and the combination, according to Walter Benjamin, ‘ “made the book cover into a political instrument”‘ (‘The Author as Producer,’ quoted in Kahn 46). In addition to work within the book trade, montage was employed in advertising, and Fiore drew on both of these areas of production in designing “The Medium Is the Massage.” That McLuhan should have been drawn to the book as art form when contemplating The Medium Is the Massage is no surprise, given the trajectory of his career, which consistently focused on the book as object, as medium of communication. Among McLuhan’s earliest intellectual interests were Blake and Mallarme, for both of whom the book was more than the mere container of text. Whereas Blake problematized the boundaries of textuality, Mallarme expanded the notion of the book into its own dissolution, theorizing, in a sense, the end of the book, the concept that has so often been credited to McLuhan. Mallarme’s Un Coup de des (1897) is a poem whose meaning is inextricable from its medium – indeed, it could be said that the material format of the poem was its meaning. Similarly, The Medium Is the Massage1 sought to realize what, in Through the Vanishing Point, McLuhan and Parker call ‘the interfaces of transparency and overlap’ (81). The book was published in two formats: Bantam issued a paperback edition, and Random House produced a hardbound version one-and-one half times the size of the paperback (fig. 5.3). … In that case he manages, as did Apollinaire, Marinetti, the Dadaists, Duchamp, to concatenate the verbal-visual with displacements of typographic energy that resemble architecture, that force the muscles of the body to work, that demand total kinesthetic responses.’
– Cavell, Richard. McLuhan in Space: A Cultural Geography. Toronto, ON, Canada: University of Toronto Press, 2003. p 127-8.
(Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6SU6Ef30o4E)

Hardcover – Random House – New York- 1967