Announcement of round-table on McLuhan’s aesthetics, Ryerson University, Toronto


Dr. Paolo Granata

The Graduate Program in Communication and Culture is proud to present a roundtable with the noted mediascholar, Dr. Paolo Granata. The round-table will comprise two parts, the first an extended presentation by Dr. Granata on media theory and the second a free-form discussion among the roundtable participants of Marshall McLuhan’s aesthetics. All are welcome.  

Time: 11:00 A.M., December 14, 2011

Place: Room 329, the Rogers Communication Centre (north-east corner of Church and Gould, entranceon Gould Street) 

In the round-table’s first part, Dr. Granata will address at least some of the following three themes:

1. video as symbolic form: Dr.Granata will pose the question whether it is possible to develop a discourse on the situation of contemporary visual culture akin to that proposed by the German art historian, Erwin Panofsky in his great essay of 1927, *Perspective as Symbolic Form.* Dr. Granata will propose arguments to support the claim that it is indeed possible to do so, and in developing these arguments will refer to the relations currently binding art, aesthetics and the new media, from the interdisciplinary perspective. If we accept that video is the prevailing symbolic form of the contemporary technological-cultural cycle, it is right what the American artist Peter Campus seems to have captured in 1999 with his brilliant expression Video Ergo Sum, that sounds laconically as *We are what we see.*

2. the art of memory from Mnemosyne to the Internet. The remarks Dr. Granata will make under this headingwill explore the very concept of memory, outlining an interdisciplinary art of memory through centuries and discovering itscomplementary side, the art of oblivion. From the myth of Mnemosyne(the goddess of Memory) to the Internet (which, for many has come to stand as a sign for the era of oblivion) the history of memory crosses art (the museum as a social memory), philosophy (identity and knowledge, from Plato to Bergson), literature (Joyce and Borges, among others), theater (from Camillo Delminio*s Memory Theatre to Stanislavsky’s system), science fiction (cyberpunk literature), film (JOHNNY MNEMONIC and VIDEODROME among others) and new media (including digital archives).

3. performances of presence: Marinetti’s *La radia* and the rise of the aesthetics of wireless. In the history of relations between technology andculture, the wireless has marked a watershed, the passage from anidea of (visual) landscape, typical of the modern age, to the idea of(acoustic, tactile, corporeal) environment, typical of the contemporary age. This assumption is related to the concept of presence. In fact, the perception of time that best fits the current social scenario involves a new existential condition that is entirely focussed and developed on the present. This condition is the cause and at the same time the effect of the continuous performances of presence that concur to define experience’s new sensorial and cognitive boundaries.

Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, the initiator of the Futurist movement, was among the first to see in thewireless a meaning that went well beyond the technological potentialinitially ascribed to it. In his *Technical Manifesto of Futurist Literature* (1913), Marinetti imagined the essence of future life and the renewal of sensory powers that the great scientific discoveries would bring about by proclaiming the need for an*imagination without wires*. The last Futurist Manifesto published in 1933, entitled *La radia,* encapsulates all the key concepts * visibility, sonorization, tactilism, flow, environment, happening, behaviourism, performance * that would converge under the all-embracing label of multimediality, or what many have described as the materialization of the Wagnerian ideal of Gesamtkunstwerk. 

4. The aesthetics of Marshall McLuhan: medium as expressive form. The remarks Dr. Granata will make under this head aim to explore McLuhan’s approach to aesthetics and to show that we can use that approach as a basis for developing apowerful tool to understanding the aesthetics of form.

In the second part, roundtable participants will have the opportunity to discuss with Dr. Granataand others at the symposium, any of these topics. This section of the day’s events will also give Dr. Granata further opportunity to expound his thinking on these topics (and to offer some capsule comments on the topics that did not not have time to address in hisformal presentation).

Biographical Note: Paolo Granata is professor of Digital Catalogues for Cultural Heritage at the Post-Graduate Specialisation School for Art and Historic Heritage at the University of Bologna. Since 2008 he has also taught Multimedia for Cultural Heritage at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna. In 2001 he authored the book ARTE INRETE, the first systematic guide to art resources on the web published in Italy. In 2003 he founded the MultiLab educationallaboratories on Humanistic Computing for the University of Bologna(Faculty of Humanities). Since 2005 he has worked for the research programme on Italian video art Videoart Yearbook. L’ANNUARIO DELLA VIDEOARTE ITALIANA, sponsored by the Department of Visual Arts of the University of Bologna. His latest book, ARTE, ESTETICA E NUOVI MEDIA (2009) is a summary of his work for an interdisciplinary approach to new media. Currently, he is Visiting Scholar and Centenary Fellow at the University of Toronto’s McLuhan Program.

 Rogers Communication Centre

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