“The electric light escapes attention as a communication medium just because it has no ‘content.’ And this makes it an invaluable instance of how people fail to study media at all. For it is not till the electric light is used to spell out some brand name that it is noticed as a medium. Then it is not the light but the ‘content’ (or what is really another medium) that is noticed. The message of the electric light is like the message of electric power in industry, totally radical, pervasive, and decentralized. For electric light and power are separate from their uses, yet they eliminate time and space factors in human association exactly as do radio, telegraph, telephone, and TV, creating involvement in depth”… – Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media (1964), p. 9.

For an expanded view click on the images
Artist’s impression of the lighting installation by Peter Koros Design at the 7th Amsterdam Light Festival

The 7th Amsterdam Light Festival   –   29 November 2018 to 20 January 2019

As of 29 November 2018, thirty artworks will light up the city center of Amsterdam for the seventh year in a row. For this years’ edition of Amsterdam Light Festival artists, designers and architects from sixteen different countries share their interpretation of the central theme ‘The Medium is the Message’. All participating artworks will be lit simultaneously during the 53-day-long festival. There will be one exhibition – in the historical center of Amsterdam – which can be experienced in different ways: by boat, by bike or on foot. This year, for the very first time, visitors can vote for their favorite light artwork. The Public Award will be presented to the artist of the winning artwork in the last weekend of the festival. Amsterdam Light Festival can be enjoyed until 20 January 2019.

Light as a medium, and remarkable stories about Amsterdam
From hundreds of submitted concepts, the festival jury selected thirty artworks. This years’ exhibition revolves around the theme ‘The Medium is the Message‘, the famous statement by the Canadian scientist and philosopher Marshall McLuhan. The idea behind his statement was simple: the way we send a message is at least as important as the message itself. The participating artists focused on questions such as: what role does light play as a medium or a message? And how can light create spaces that would otherwise have remained invisible? The city of Amsterdam as a medium for telling stories is also a central part of this edition.
On behalf of the festival, art historian Koen Kleijn went in search of remarkable stories about the city and from October onward they will be released as a ten-part series on the festival website. In his stories, Kleijn identifies the connection between the city and the central theme.

Light a Wish by OGE Group

Parabolic Lightcloud by amigo & amigo

For a listing of some of the participating artists and artworks see https://goo.gl/Phk3VE

Howard Luck Gossage (1917 – 1969)
“People don’t read ads. They read what interests them. Sometimes that’s an ad.” — Howard Luck Gossage

Marshall McLuhan in San Francisco 1965

Here is SF Chronicle columnist Herb Caen’s August 12, 1965 account of Professor Marshall McLuhan’s San Francisco visit where a McLuhan festival was taking place. I went to the SF Public Library to read the newspapers of that day. A Shakespearean dramatic lightning storm bolted the bay foreshadowing his arrival. During the week of his stay, the Watts riots broke out, the Beatles stepped off the plane with their new movie HELP!, UFO’s were sighted frequently as the San Francisco Mime troop was cited fervently.

The actual Marshall McLuhan festival was held in San Francisco during the week of August 9 -13, 1965. Tom Wolfe wrote of this in his essay “What if He is Right?” Herb Caen chronicled their hot cool lunch at the recent social innovation – the topless club. Here is the full text of the article. – Mark Beaulieu, April 15, 1995, SF

Rainy Day Session

THREE THOUSAND miles off dept.: The Great Weatherman in the Sky may have His eye on the sparrow–but Sir, it’s New York, not San Francisco, that has the water shortage . . . Further religious note (shakes you up a little dept.): Yesterday, we told about the two Shinto priests performing a ceremony to remove the “hex” on Club Bora Bora–a 75-ft. dragon painted down the alley behind the place and hoo-BOY, did those priests get results! Yesterday morn, the dragon (painted in tempura) had been completely washed away! . . . Assemblyman Jesse Unruh, the Big Wind from Sacramento, blew into UC Medical Center yesterday for further checkups on his knee (he bit it?) and there he ran into a fellow patient, State Senator Jack McCarthy of S’Rafael. “He’s a Democrat and I’m a Republican but at last we have something in common,” said Jack. “Misery!” . . . Dave Falk to Horace Stoneham: “Can you drop in for a drink this afternoon?” Horace, with a Beam that Jim could bottle: “The way we’re winning, who needs it?” . . . Public service dept.: In case of nuclear attack, run, don’t walk, to General Brewing at 2601 Newhall, whose cellar has been designated a Class A Fallout Shelter. Contains food, water, first aid equipment, and case upon case of Luck Lager, Labatt’s and Fisher Beer. All clear ?

* * *FLASH: In town is Prof. Marshall McLuhan, fabled, fabulous, revered, and even sainted by the New Intelligentsia, Director of the Center for Culture and Technology at University of Toronto, author of “The Mechanical Bride,” “The Gutenburg Galaxy” and “Understanding Media,” darling of the critics (“Compared to McLuhan, Spengler is cautious and Toynbee is positively pedantic” – New York Herald Tribune), the man who stands “at the frontier of post-Einsteinian mythologies.”

Hot on the trail of this titan, I thought to myself, “Where is the last place in town you’d expect to see Marshall McLuhan?” and that’s where we I found him–at Off-Broadway in North Beach, lunching amid the topless waitresses with Writer Tom Wolfe, Adman Howard Gossage and Dr. Gerald Feigen.

* * *Being President of the Leg Men of American, I never felt a primal urge to lunch among the topless ladies, but in such distinguished company, who could resist? “Strip steak sandwich,” I said to Waitress Marilyn, who was wearing blue sequin pasties and not much else. As she walked sternly away, I commented “A good-looking girl.”

“Interesting choice of words,” mused Dr. McLuhan. “Good-LOOKING girl. The remark of a man who is visually-oriented, not tactually. And I further noticed that you could not bring yourself to look at her breasts as she took your order. You examined her only after she walked away – another example of the visual: the further she walked away, the more attractive she became.”

“Actually,” I apologized, blushing, “I’m rather inhibited.” The Professor nodded. “Another interesting word. Inhibited is the opposite of exhibited,” he pointed out, “and what is exhibited causes you to be inhibited.”

* * *A TOPLESS fashion show ensued, commentated by a young lady who was fully dressed and in good voice. “Now here, gentlemen,” she said, “is the ideal opera gown for your wife.” A gorgeously-endowed blonde appeared in a full-length gown open to the waist. The audience, composed mainly of Tuesday Downtown Operator-like types, gaped silently. “You’re all dead out there,” chided the commentator. “Where’s the applause?”

“Now the word applause,” interjected Dr. McLuhan, “comes from the Latin ‘applaudere,’ which means to explode. In early times, audiences applauded to show their disfavor; they clapped their hands literally to explode the performer off the stage. Hence you might say that that[sic] the silence here is a form of approbation, at least in the classical sense.”

* * *The show over, Tom Wolfe asked Waitress Marilyn: “Why do you wear pasties?” “Have to,” she dimpled. “It’s the law, when food is being served. For health reasons, you see?” Nobody saw. We invited Marilyn and Rochelle to join us for a drink. “Before we can sit with customers,” said Marilyn, “we have to put brassieres on.” She and Rochelle left and reappeared wearing black bras.

“I think brassieres look sexier than pasties, don’t you?” Marilyn inquired. Everybody nodded. “Besides, you can walk faster with a brassiere.” Everybody looked blank. “What I mean is,” she went on, “you don’t JIGGLE so.” The discussion switched to the recent police raids on Off-Broadway, and Rochelle said “I guess it was just a test case, we haven’t been bothered since. “I see,” said Dr. McLuhan. “To mix a metaphor, it was the thin edge of the trial balloons.” I’m sorry to report this, but it’s a fact that he tittered at his own remark.

We walked out into the sunshine, filled with innocence and good feelings, to find a young man on the sidewalk, handing out blue pamphlets for the “Scandinavian Massage Studio, Miss Ingrid, Director.: The copy read “Six young and trained Scandinavian girls are ready to serve you. For the tired executive we offer private massage rooms, private telephones, stock quotations, the Wall Street Journal, music.”

It didn’t sound relaxing at all. Not half as relaxing as lunch among the nymphs with Dr. Marshall McLuhan and his merry men. (Source: https://goo.gl/vTg4G4)

Here on Walter Landor’s boat (Walter Landor – founder of Landor Associates, one of the world’s leading design firms) is Howard with Walter Landor, Tom Wolfe, Marshall McLuhan and his wife, Alice Lowe (Gossage’s office manager who is currently head of San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum), Herb  Caen (the well-known columnist), a city commissioner, and Gerry Feigen, a doctor who joined Howard’s  merry band. 

Read Tom Wolfe’s Account of the visit to the topless waitresses restaurant in his article “What if He is Right?” at https://goo.gl/NLa897

Read the following previous postings on this blog about Howard Gossage, the “Socrates of San Francisco”:-

Howard Gossage, 1960s Marketer of Marshall McLuhan – https://goo.gl/NIfdR0

New Biography of Howard Gossage –https://goo.gl/9719Ow

Howard Gossage: The Socrates of San Francisco – https://goo.gl/drgDT1

ABS-CBN Integrated News and Current Affairs’ Jeff Canoy with Canada Ambassador H.E. John AHolmes.

ABS-CBN Broadcaster Named 2018 Marshall McLuhan Fellow

JEFF CANOY of television network ABS-CBN’s Integrated News and Current Affairs is the 2018 Marshall McLuhan Fellow. He received a glass trophy from the Embassy of Canada’s Ambassador to the Philippines John Holmes in a presentation ceremony held today at SGV Hall in the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) Conference Center in Makati City.  Canoy is the 21st Marshall McLuhan Fellow.

The presentation was part of this year’s Jaime V. Ongpin Journalism Seminar (JVOJS) which featured a panel of six journalists chosen on the basis of the quality of their reports in newspapers, television and online.

The seminar discussed the coverage of various issues that the nation faced in the past including the Marawi siege and its aftermath, state-sponsored propaganda, China’s occupation of the West Philippine Sea, and the shut-down of the island resort of Boracay.

The Embassy of Canada has sponsored the fellowship, named after Canadian communication theoretician Marshall McLuhan, for 22 years. It consists of a two-week familiarization and lecture tour of Canadian media and academic organizations, and later, a lecture tour of Philippine universities under Embassy auspices and with the support of SunLife Financial Inc.

The Marshall McLuhan Fellowship was first awarded in 1997. Twenty-one journalists had been named as Fellows since, among them Sheila S. Coronel of Columbia University’s Journalism School and Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism; Yvonne T. Chua of VERA Files; Ed Lingao of TV5; Carolyn O. Arguillas of MindaNews; and Cheche Lazaro of ProbeTV.

The panelists in this year’s JVOJS were:

Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Gerg Cahiles
CNN Philippines

Jeff Canoy
ABS-CBN Integrated News and Current Affairs

Jonathan de Santos

Natashya Gutierrez

Karol Ilagan
Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism

Each of the panelists received a certificate of recognition and a P 20,000.00 honorarium.

These journalists join the roster of Jaime V. Ongpin Journalism Fellows, a community of journalists and media practitioners who are invited to participate in CMFR’s events and programs as well as those organized by the Southeast Asian Press Alliance, a regional network of which CMFR is a founding member.

CMFR’s programs include the promotion of media responsibility and the protection of press freedom in the context of Philippine democratic development. (Source: https://goo.gl/tamij5)

I first met Paul Heyer in 2004 at the Media Ecology Association’s annual convention at the Rochester Institute of Technology. He suggested that I apply to teach some courses in communication at Wilfrid Laurier University, which I did a few years later. While there I enjoyed talking to him about our common interests in Marshall McLuhan, Harold Innis, Orson Welles and the Titanic. I later reviewed his excellent study of the Titanic myth and its subsequent representation in many media forms for Explorations in Media Ecology,12 (1&2), pp. 137-143. He was a generous colleague, friend and excellent scholar and he will be sorely missed. Rest in peace.


Paul Heyer, who passed away about a week ago, was a polymath, earning degrees in geography (BA, Concordia), sociology (MA, New School) and an MPhil and PhD in anthropology from Rutgers University before going on to make significant contributions to communication studies. He taught at in Communication Departments at Simon Fraser University, McGill University, and Concordia University, spending the major part of his career at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada since January 2001.

His published research includes the most widely-adopted introductory media history textbook in North America (7 editions to date), significant studies of Harold Innis, the tragedy of the Titanic and how it has been mythologized in media, and Orson Welles’s radio dramatizations. In addition, Heyer has published work on digital cinema and opera, the legacy of Marshall McLuhan and taught courses on film comedy, non-verbal communication, the culture of the 1950s, and radio, among many, many others. Just this summer his magnum opus on desert island narratives, Islands in the Screen: From Robinson Crusoe to Lost, was submitted for publication and is expected to be published posthumously. His published books include:                                                                             

  • Crowley, David, Urquhart, Peter, and Paul Heyer. Communication in History: Stone Age Symbols to Social Media. Routledge, 2018.
  • Crowley, David and Paul Heyer. Communication in History: Technology, Culture, Society. Sixth edition. New York: Routledge, 2016. [6 editions]
  • Buxton Bill, Cheney Michael, and Paul Heyer, eds. Harold Innis Reflects: Memoir and WWI Writings/Correspondence. Boulder, CO: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016.
  • Buxton, Bill, Cheney Michael, and Paul Heyer, eds. Harold Innis’s History of Communications. Boulder, CO: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015.
  • Heyer, Paul. Titanic Century: Media, Myth, and the Making of a Cultural Icon. Second edition. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2012.
  • Heyer, Paul. The Medium and the Magician: Orson Welles, the Radio Years. Boulder, CO: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005.
  • Heyer, Paul. Harold Innis. Boulder, CO: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003.
  • Heyer, Paul. Communications and History. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1988.

In addition, Heyer published work on digital cinema and opera, the legacy of Marshall McLuhan and taught courses on film comedy, non-verbal communication, the culture of the 1950s, and radio, among many, many others. Just this summer his magnum opus on desert island narratives, Islands in the Screen: From Robinson Crusoe to Lost, was submitted for publication and is expected to be published posthumously.

As well as a highly accomplished scholar and popular undergraduate teacher, Heyer was a beloved and extraordinarily generous colleague and mentor. Perhaps his greatest contribution, though, was to graduate student teaching, supervising and mentorship. Over his career, Heyer supervised dozens of students to MA and PhD degrees and was instrumental in establishing the MA program in Communication Studies at Wilfrid Laurier, where he was a fixture, teaching the required seminar, even after his retirement in 2016.

Heyer’s pursuits outside of academic life were as eclectic and passionate as those inside. He was an avid cyclist and archer, an extremely accomplished long-distance runner, completing several marathons, including Boston and New York, in the ridiculously fast time of under 2:40, an excellent trumpet and trombone player, had an encyclopedic knowledge of baseball history, was a published poet and was an enthusiastic follower of less high-profile sports such as Australian Rules Football and track-and-field.

Last summer, Heyer received the Media Ecology Association’s Walter J. Ong Award for Career Achievement in Scholarship in San Francisco. His response to the award illustrates both his humility about his accomplishments and their extraordinarily broad range:

“This came as a complete surprise — I would never regard myself as having the kind of unified body of scholarship that would merit such an award,” said Heyer. “In generously acknowledging the breadth of my work, I thank the MEA for thinking otherwise.” (source https://goo.gl/4o6Psw)

Paul Heyer addressing convention delegates at the MEA Convention in 2017 in San Francisco

 (Click on the image to expand the view)


The symposium is to celebrate and mark the designation of the Marshall McLuhan Library held at the the University of Toronto and the McLuhan Archives held at Library and Archives Canada into the UNESCO Memory of the World Register.  It will occur at the Fisher Rare Book Library, 120 St. George Street at the University of Toronto. It was organized and sponsored by the Library and Archives Canada, the McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology at the Faculty of Information and the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library.

​To view the UNESCO designation announcement, please click on https://goo.gl/Wi6JZD.

This all-day event brings together an interdisciplinary set of McLuhan inspired media and communication theoristsartists and educators to discuss the significance of McLuhan and the archive to their own work and practice.

The event is free and open to the public. Registration required. FOR REGISTRATION GO TO: https://goo.gl/KWVuGW . However, at this time the registrants list is full and those not yet registered would be placed on a waiting list.

Keynote Lecture: John Durham Peters (English/Film/Media Studies, Yale University)
Special Guest Speaker: Andrew McLuhan (McLuhan Institute, Prince Edward County)



Event Welcome and Introductions by Sarah Sharma (Director, McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology)

Wendy Duff (Dean of the Faculty of Information)
Larry Alford (Chief Librarian, University of Toronto Libraries)
Robert Fisher (LAC, Library and Archives Canada)
Michael McLuhan (McLuhan Estate)

​Special Guest Speaker​ (10:20 – 11:15 AM)

Introduction by John Shoesmith (event co-organizer) (Outreach Librarian, Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library)

Andrew McLuhan (McLuhan Institute, Prince Edward County)
Breaking the rules, by the book
Response and Q&A with Seamus Ross

​SPEAKERS ONE (11:30 AM – 12:30 PM)
The Logic of the Substitute: Harley Parker After Understanding Media
Gary Genosko (Communication, Ontario Institute of Technology)

McLuhan: Progenitor of Post-Humanism
Jody Berland (Humanities, York University)

Reading McLuhan Reading Ulysses
Alan Galey (Faculty of Information, University of Toronto)

​LUNCH (12:30 – 1:30 PM)

SPEAKERS TWO (1:30 – 2:30 PM)
Our Unique Ratios: Sonic Media and Canadian Identity
Mitchell Akiyama (Daniels Faculty of Architecture, University of Toronto)

The Sensorium Revisited
Rhonda McEwen (ICCIT/Canada Research Chair, University of Toronto)

Rhetoric, Ecology, Media
Daniel Adleman (Innis College, University of Toronto)

SPEAKERS THREE (2:30 – 3:30 PM)
Explorations in Anonymous History
Janine Marchessault (Cinema and Media Studies, York University)
Michael Darroch (School of Creative Arts, University of Windsor)

FEEDBACK: Marshall McLuhan and the Arts, the recursive exhibition and symposium project Baruch Gottlieb (Canadian Visual Artist/Digital Aesthetics University of Arts, Berlin)

​Reading McLuhan for Sparks
Paolo Granata (Book and Media Studies, St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto)

​BREAK (3:30 – 3:45 PM)

SPEAKERS FOUR (3:45 – 4:45 PM)
Textual Galaxies
Ganaele Langlois (Communication, York University)

The (Black) Elephant in the Room: McLuhan and the Racial
Armond Towns (Communication, University of Denver)

In Search of Media Theory
Liam Cole Young (Communication, Carleton University)

​KEYNOTE LECTURE (5:15 – 6:15 PM)
John Durham Peters (English/Film/Media Studies, Yale University)
Reading Over McLuhan’s Shoulder


The Fisher Rare Book Library will have a curated selection of McLuhan’s archives on display.

At the reception come play The Medium with Paolo Granata (a board game inspired by McLuhan.)

The event will also feature a launch of the print edition of Marshall McLuhan and the Arts by editors Jaqueline McLeod Rogers and Adam Lauder. (see https://goo.gl/M57kMn).

 The Fisher Library


Marshall McLuhan’s library at U of T holds 6,000 publications, mostly books (photo by Romi Levine) (Click on image to expand view) 

Second UNESCO Memory of The World designation for U of T, fifth overall for Canada

University of Toronto professor and famed media theorist Marshall McLuhan’s legacy continues to reach far and wide, shaping the way people think about culture and technology.

It’s his scope of influence that has earned McLuhan’s library and archives, housed at U of T and at Library and Archives Canada, a spot on the UNESCO Memory of the World register – a collection of documents and materials from all over the world that seeks to tell and preserve the story of humanity.

UNESCO is a United Nations group that advocates for co-operation between nations around education, science, culture and communications.

“It’s a rich addition to our global documentary heritage and we’re delighted to have been chosen as stewards of this unique material,” said Larry Alford, U of T’s chief librarian, at the announcement event, which took place Tuesday at Robarts Library. 

Browse the full U of T McLuhan library collection

This is the fifth Canadian entry into the Memory of the World and U of T’s second – the first is original archive materials, including research documents, related to the discovery of insulin at the university, which led to a Nobel Prize for Medicine.

Library and Archives Canada, a federal-run institution, holds the personal archives of McLuhan, including letters and photographs, and U of T Libraries has his massive library – 6,000 published items, which are mainly books, and the notes and newspaper clippings he stuffed between their pages.

“Both UTL and LAC are committed to celebrating the legacy and memory of a great thinker who arguably belonged to the world as much as he did to Canada,” said Guy Berthiaume, the Librarian and Archivist of Canada.

McLuhan’s book collection at U of T is as diverse as it is large, with subject matter ranging from media studies to English literature, Catholicism and philosophy.

“You can really see the depth and breadth of his interests,” said John Shoesmith, outreach librarian at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library.

Not only was McLuhan an avid reader, but he was an active reader – always making annotations in the margins of the books, on book jackets and the endpapers, said Shoesmith.

This holds true regarding McLuhan’s obsession with Irish author James Joyce, particularly his notoriously difficult novel Finnegan’s Wake, of which there are five copies in his library, including a first edition.

“One of the reasons for that is that he would heavily annotate one that he would need to get another one to continue his annotations,” Shoesmith said.

One of McLuhan’s heavily annotated copies of Finnegan’s Wake (photo by Romi Levine) (Click on image for expanded view) 

His collection also includes the work of his colleagues at U of T like Harold Innis, as well as well-known theorists like Walter J. Ong and writer and artist William S. Burroughs.

The UNESCO designation is affirmation that the McLuhan library is an important asset, not just for U of T students and faculty, but researchers all over the world who have been influenced by his writings, said Shoesmith.

“It shows that you can come here and still get a sense of where his ideas came from, how he researched, the books he was reading,” he said. “It’s such a rich resource. Having an intact working library of such a major scholar and personality is invaluable”. (Source: https://goo.gl/fdWaBX)

 Fisher Library

Produced by the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) –  Published on Aug 16, 2018  
From 2014-2017, the ROM acquired over 700 works of art—paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, fabrics, film—from the archive of Panchal Mansaram (b. 1934), one of the few artists of the South Asian diaspora whose career in Canada stretches over 50 years. This video is a glimpse into his life and work, which is a testament to the role of a diasporic artist in a global history of modernism.
The following excerpt is taken from my published article Mansaram & Marshall McLuhan: Collaboration in Collage Art which you can find online in Marshall McLuhan & the Arts at https://goo.gl/PTgXpW. The full issue of Marshall McLuhan & the Arts is at https://goo.gl/pL6YYN
 Click on image for expanded view
Rear View Mirror 74 (RVM 74) – Collage by Mansaram and Marshall McLuhan (1969, with new elements added in 2011)

On a page that is untitled and unpaginated, preceding page one of the Prologue to The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962), McLuhan wrote of his “mosaic or field approach,” stating that it represents “the galaxy or constellation of events” in a “mosaic of perpetually interacting forms that have undergone kaleidoscopic transformation—particularly in our own time.” That is an apt description for Mansaram and McLuhan’s Rear View Mirror 74, which represents elements from the converging cultures of India and the West, including aspects of their natural ecologies, media ecologies, and religious symbols. Elena Lamberti argues that meaning from such a mosaic assemblage is acquired:

… through the interplay with its own ground. By doing so, a pattern gets created and in turn revealed through our active observation. Pattern recognition is the way we approach all mosaics: we look for the overall design that the assemblage of the various tesserae brings to light, something which transcends their mere sum. (xxviii)

Such mosaic structure forces viewers to employ pattern recognition, to pay attention to the total design, and to participate in the process of deriving meaning from what they are experiencing. It promotes active engagement, rather than the passive and detached observation that is characteristic of representational art.

McLuhan appreciated collage art and supported this aspect of Mansaram’s artistic expression because he sensed that this art form better reflected the post-literate “allatonceness” (McLuhan and Fiore 63) world of electronic media and technology. As Margarita D’Amico argues, “In his own published work if McLuhan was not the first to have used collage, [but] it is he who has best captured the totally new character of the new mass means of communication and the social impact of new technologies” (Nevitt and Maurice McLuhan 232). The superseded Gutenberg era of widespread literacy based on the dominance of writing and print media in the form of relatively inexpensive books, magazines, journals, and newspapers favoured visual space. Yet what McLuhan called “new media” favoured the ear via technologies such as radio, movies, TV, recorded music, and satellites, which replaced visual space with acoustic space. The visual aspect still existed in film and TV of course, but sight was no longer the most dominant of the senses in the new electronic media.

Marshall McLuhan and Barrington Nevitt opined that:

Our world … is an invisible Rim Spin—all the communication that surrounds us. It is like a cyclone, a vortex that has transformed the old world of visual connections into a new world of audile-tactile resonances: a global theatre of instant awareness. (Nevitt and Maurice McLuhan 231)

In a collaborative text with Marshall McLuhan first published in Spanish in Venezuela, D’Amico linked collage and mosaic using McLuhan’s terminology:

We live in an acoustic space … like discarnate minds floating in the magnetic cities of radio, television and satellites. …Our world is a great multimedia poem. To understand this world we must study its processes, investigate their effects to recognize their causes: to program our future … Perhaps our one possible approach may be of mosaic type or collage, rather than a lineal one of logical demonstration. (Nevitt and Maurice McLuhan 231)

The art of the previous Gutenberg era of print had been mostly representational: street scenes, natural landscapes or seascapes, and portraits that were identifiable as such. The introduction of perspective, around the same time in the mid-15th century as Gutenberg’s invention of moveable type, enhanced the lifelikeness of this representationality (McLuhan, Gutenberg Galaxy). Just as the linearity of typeset printed pages endowed readers with a fixed point of view, perspective in art made “the single eye the centre of the visible world” with everything converging on it “to the vanishing point of infinity” (Berger 16).

Yet electronic media substituted simultaneity or all-at-onceness for linearity and ABC-mindedness, and acoustic space for visual space, thus eliminating perspective and the possibility of a fixed point of view. Representational art was no longer reflective of electronic media, satellites, space flight, and new conceptions of space/time that they stimulated. Abstract art in its non-representationality provided one solution, and the ancient art of collage provided another. D’Amico explains why mosaic and its application to collage art appealed to McLuhan:

Mosaic emphasizes that all elements together create the total effect. As for collage, the association, arrangement and juxtaposition of objects, phrases, different concepts, both heterogeneous and absurd, that comment upon and influence each other, all of this has very close affinities with concepts of chance, accident or “serendipity” (making accidental discoveries of valuable, but unsought, knowledge), important concepts in present science and culture. (Nevitt and Maurice McLuhan 231-232)

Marshall McLuhan, a cultural medievalist by training, was especially interested in the lower three of the seven liberal arts of the medieval educational curriculum: grammar, rhetoric, and logic. He was aware of medieval artistic expression beyond the literary, including the pre-Renaissance mosaic art that followed the Byzantine practice of decorating walls and ceilings with tesserae. Art historian Alexander Nagel explains that the medieval mosaic represented for McLuhan “a mode of apprehension” that integrated the full human sensorium of vision, hearing, taste, smell, and even touch, whereas Western representational art biased perception in favour of the eye and sequential vision:

Mosaics engaged an integrated medieval “sensory ratio” where the visual was not disconnected from the other senses and if anything was subordinated to the “audile” and “tactile” forms . . .  [In] The Gutenberg Galaxy, [he wrote that the mosaic is] “a multidimensional world of inter structural resonance”—in contradiction to modern perspective, which was “an abstract illusion built on the intense separation of the visual from the other senses. (160)

Indeed, McLuhan found “the mosaic mode of being relevant in the new age of electronic media, which were exploding the bounds of a mechanically understood world, putting things once again into multiple relation across space and time” (Nagel 160).

Mansaram also related a relevant side note to this essay’s author: at the opening of his 2012 exhibition of collages at the J.M. Gallery, now the Ashok Jain Gallery in New York, Teri McLuhan, a documentary filmmaker and daughter of Marshall McLuhan, commented to Mansaram, “That is how my dad spoke, just like your collages.” Those who are still mystified by some of McLuhan’s cryptic and non-linear pronouncements might possibly agree.

A cropped portion of a collage created by Indo-Canadian artist Panchal Mansaram who prefers to be called Mansaram with the collaboration of Marshall McLuhan that includes a photo of the latter taken by Mansaram (1969, with new elements added in 2011).

The cover and first page of the July 3, 1965, Macleans Magazine that contains the”High Priest” article below.

This lengthy article from the July 3, 1965 issue of Macleans Magazine discusses Marshall McLuhan near or at his peak of fame and influence during the 1960s. His two most important books, The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962) and Understanding Media (1964) had been published during the past 3 years and he was increasingly being featured in articles, interviews and magazine articles, sometimes with his picture on the front page. The first six paragraphs below describe a Marshall McLuhan Festival that the University of British Columbia held on campus. This is the only description of this event that I have been able to find. It contradicts the idea that university professors in Canada were all hostile to McLuhan and his ideas. 

For years, Marshall McLuhan preached his theories of mass communications—but hardly anybody understood him. Then, suddenly, he was the hottest intellectual fad since Buddhism

by Alexander Ross   –   Jul 3, 1965

Was it a Happening? Was it a huge practical joke staged by a bunch of mad professors? Or was it a serious tribute to the best-known, least-understood, most strikingly original mind ever spawned in Canada?

Actually, this strange exhibition, set up last January in the big, cement-floored armory at the University of British Columbia, was a bit of all three. It had overtones of dada and pop art, it puzzled, alarmed or amused most of the people who went through it, and the entire exhibition was designed to illustrate the increasingly fashionable theories of Dr. Herbert Marshall McLuhan, the University of Toronto English professor whose notions on how mass communications affect human society are becoming the object of a worldwide intellectual cult. This sensory fun house was probably the wildest, funniest tribute ever accorded a living Canadian, and here is what happened when you walked inside:

The centre of the armory was draped with big sheets of plastic, suspended from the ceiling to form a maze that people wandered through in no particular sequence. As they wandered, strange things happened. The exhibition’s designers, a group of McLuhan devotees on the UBC faculty, had placed slide projectors around the maze, and instructed their operators to use them like guns, aiming them at the ceiling, at the plastic curtains, onto the floor, or splattering the crowd itself with abstract projected images. They’d also scattered hunks of sculpture around, and they blasted the crowd with weird noises from hidden loudspeakers and ran off a long meaningless movie that showed nothing but the empty armory.

They had somebody standing on a podium hammering on a block of wood. They had bells and noisemakers hanging from the ceiling. They had dancers pirouetting through the crowd at unexpected intervals. Best of all. they’d rigged up something called a Sculptured Wall. This turned out to be a frame with stretch fabric pinned across it and a girl standing behind it, squirming up against it and — Great Hera! — you were supposed to palpate this squirming form from your side of the screen so you’d know what tactile communication was all about!

According to Abraham Rogatnick, the UBC architecture professor who staged it, the exhibition was supposed to illustrate McLuhan’s basic contention: that the various communications media have a built-in tendency to favor one or another of our senses; and that this sensory bias affects people and cultures in strange and little-understood ways. By exposing his audience to strange sounds, unexpected forms and new experiences in “touching” (like that girl behind the screen), Rogatnick was trying to reshuffle the sense patterns that his audience had acquired from a lifetime of reading books.

Anyhow, that was the general idea. Rogatnick feels it was a success; part of the audience, as he afterward expressed it, reacted with “swooning wonderment.” But what UBC’s wondrous McLuhan Festival really proved was that McLuhan the man (who was too busy to attend his own Happening) is rapidly being supplanted by McLuhanism — a holy new cult, with intellectual epopts scattered across the Western world, preaching a body of made-in-Toronto doctrine that eventually may alter much of our thinking about how to cope with the twentieth century.

McLuhan the man is a fifty-four-year-old Winnipeg native who was graduated from the University of Manitoba and from Cambridge, has taught English for the past twenty – one years at St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto and has, since 1963, been director of an academic talkshop known as the Centre For Culture And Technology. With his purposeful stride, his saucer-sized bald spot, his instinctive Oxbridge courtesy, his Roman Catholicism (he’s a convert), his wife and six children, his book-strewn office in an old house at the edge of the campus, McLuhan is a solid if highly visible citizen of the Canadian academic community.
Outside Canada, however, McLuhan has become an ism — a distinction shared by practically no other Canadian. Already, he is world famous — not massively famous like, say, Arnold Toynbee, but with the sort of furtive underground renown that has made his theories seem urgent to intellectual faddists and frontiersmen from Paris to Peru.Important people, such as admen and big-name professors, have been known to fly in from such places as Zurich and San Francisco, just to lunch with McLuhan. His books (he’s published three, collaborated on a fourth, is writing two more) are reviewed as a matter of course in all the O. K. publications such as the Times Lit. Supp., and are beginning to be noticed in the mass-circulation magazines as well.

In the French little magazines, the kind that run scholarly reviews on old American gangster movies, you’ll often find knowing references to mcluhanisme. His slogans (“global village,” “the medium is the message”) are beginning to enjoy the same popular currency as the Freudian jargon of half a century ago. UBC has run an extension course on understanding McLuhan. His disciples are beginning to infiltrate ad agencies, curriculum committees and newspaper offices across the country.

Read the rest of this longish essay at https://goo.gl/8976cM


Hans Ulrich Obrist, Douglas Coupland and Shumon Basar discuss tomorrow via the spreads from their radical artist’s book, Age Of Earthquakes

April 6, 2015

“We see this as a kind of DIY manual.” Hans Ulrich Obrist, Serpentine co-director, and arguably his generations finest curator, is very excited. He’s describing his new book, a radical updating of Marshall McLuhan’s The Medium Is The Massage for our, frankly, totally insane world. “It’s also maybe a form of a cookbook – an extreme present cookbook”. He’s sat with two friends – and co-authors – Douglas Coupland and Shumon Basar. Douglas Coupland defined his age with a book twenty years ago, with Generation X. British writer, artist, theorist and editor Shumon Basar midway through a day promoting their new book Age of Earthquakes, overlooking a cityscape viewable from the 15th floor of a central London business hotel bar. 

Hans, Douglas and Shumon are friends: futurists by nature and artists in mind. Age of Earthquakes is equal parts self-help and art book, and, with its quotable slogan and rich imagery from artists like K_Hole, Trevor Paglen and even Michael Stipe, it’s like a very smart Tumblr, but made of wood pulp. Guidebook, map for today and mediation on the madness of our media, it’s an awesome, dizzying read. Over the course of an hour, the three thinkers talked us through 14 spreads from the book. 

Immediately underneath us are the satellite dishes and turrets of Broadcasting House and the dreamy spire of John Nash’s All Souls church. From the bar’s vast windows to the horizon, cranes are strewn across the landscape, steadily, ominously building London’s tomorrow. The bar feels like a first class waiting room in a second class airport, paused in 1998, and we’re all drinking Coke. It’s the perfect place to discuss how the terrifying and wonderful future came to be all around us.

Click on the images to expand them for closer scrutiny.

Douglas Coupland: You know what’s weird? That quote has been attributed to Bataille, to McLuhan, to Andy Warhol: it’s one of those.

Shumon Basar: It’s a meme quote.

Hans Ulrich Obrist: But it’s also the classic empty page, and in a way the book is a medium. There is a long history of that – from Tristram Shandy’s black page and throughout art history. For the avant garde of the 60s, the artist book is very much at the call of conceptual art: you need to credit Lucy R Lippard: she’s one of the great inventors of this idea that you are curating what happens within a book. She did this amazing exhibition in Vancouver – all roads always lead to Canada!….. Read the rest and see the page spreads at https://goo.gl/V89Ker

I have posted articles about The Age of Earthquakes before. See the following links:
From The Medium is the Massage (1967) to The Age of Earthquakes (2015) – https://goo.gl/TknXmS

Massage Received: From McLuhan to the Digital Age (More about The Age of Earthquakes) (2015) – https://goo.gl/Lwswq5

 Douglas Coupland

The University of Michigan iSchool – North Quad

This is an excerpt from a letter dated July 19, 2018, addressed to Michael McLuhan and signed by the University of Michigan’s Provost and Dean of the iSchool.

The H. Marshall McLuhan Collegiate Professorship in Digital Media, School of Information

H. Marshall McLuhan periodically visited the University of Michigan from 1944 to 1978. He used the University of Michigan Library for his research, attended university events, met colleagues, and gave occasional lectures. These included a university lecture, A College of Engineering lecture, and a broadcast on WUOM. His book, Understanding Media, was excerpted in the Michigan Daily in 1965, and in 1966, the Michigan Daily published a guide to “McLuhanism.” His work inspired a column (“Medium”) in the counterculture Ann Arbor Sun in 1968 and he was placed on the reading list of the Ann Arbor-based Rainbow People’s Party. Mr. McLuhan’s mother, Elsie, lived in Detroit, where Mr. McLuhann also regularly spoke at the Ford Auditorium from 1959 to 1971. Mr. McLuhan himself lived in nearby Windsor, Ontario for two years [while teaching at Assumption College, now Assumption University, part of the University of Windsor].

H. Marshall McLuhan is best known for the theorization of digital media (which he called “electric” media) in his book, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. The book developed a structuralist approach to the study of the mass media and popularized Mr. McLuhan’s phrase, “the medium is the message.” It was published in 1964 and arose from his work directing the “Understanding New Media” project under contract to the US Office of Education. Early results were first presented at the National Association of Educational Broadcasters convention in Detroit in 1959. He went on to write 15 books and received a raft of official awards, honors, and honorary degrees over the course of a distinguished and controversial career. As his theories from the late 1950s prefigured everyday digital computing and he was a devout catholic, he has often been called the unofficial patron saint of the Internet.