McLuhan Salon #4: The Digital Unconscious in Videodrome & Beyond



Wednesday, March 8, 2017 at 7:00 PM

Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), 

Reitman Square: 350 King Street West, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 3X5        

Prior to TIFF’s Canada on Screen presentation of David Cronenberg’s Videodrome (1983), visual artist Catherine Richards and film and media scholar Alanna Thain join moderator Dr. Janine Marchessault for an extended introduction to the film. Part of the McLuhan Salon series, the conversation will explore techno-surrealism, which seeks to draw out the prescient aspects of the film — including surveillance, mediatic augmentation, hacking, the continuity between culture and nature — thereby creating connections between Cronenberg’s masterpiece, Marshall McLuhan, and our 21st-century reality. This event is co-presented with TIFF.


CATHERINE RICHARDS is a visual artist working in old and new media art. Her work explores the volatile sense of ourselves as we are shifting our boundaries – a process in which new information technologies play a starring role. The Canada Council for the Arts awarded the Media Arts prize [Petro Canada 1993] to her work “Spectral Bodies” using virtual reality technology, as an “outstanding and innovative use of new technologies in media arts.” She received a Canadian Centre for the Visual Arts Fellowship (1993-94) at the National Gallery of Canada who subsequently commissioned her piece “Charged Hearts.”


ALANNA THAIN is Associate Professor of Cultural Studies and World Cinemas in the Department of English at McGill University. She directs the Moving Image Research Laboratory (MIRL), devoted to the study of bodies in motion across forms of media. Through the MIRL she runs “Cinema Out of the Box!”, a research-creation project on new expanded cinema, consisting of a completely bicycle-powered, mobile cinema that holds guerrilla screenings in unexpected sites in the city. She is the author of Bodies in Time: Suspense, Affect, Cinema, forthcoming from the University of Minnesota Press.


JANINE MARCHESSAULT is Professor of Cinema and Media Studies in the Department of Cinema and Media Arts at York University, where she held the Canada Research Chair in Art, Digital Media and Globalization (2003-2013). She was the co-founder of Future Cinema Lab and the inaugural Director of Sensorium: Centre for Digital Arts and Technology Research at York University.

***NOTA BENE*** This 2-hour event is Free. Tickets are distributed at the venue two hours before the start of the event (1 ticket per person). The McLuhan Salon curators Paolo Granata and David Nostbakken are managing a limited guest list for those McLuhan Centre friends who would like to reserve a seat. If interested, send an email to with your request, but only if you are certain that you will be attending.

videodromeVideodrome (1983)


Dr. Brian O’Blivion (characterization influenced by McLuhan)

Videodrome is a 1983 Canadian science fiction film written and directed by David Cronenberg, starring James Woods, Sonja Smits, and singer Deborah Harry. Set in Toronto during the early 1980s, it follows the CEO of a small UHF television station who stumbles upon a broadcast signal featuring extreme violence and torture. The layers of deception and mind-control conspiracy unfold as he uncovers the signal’s source and loses touch with reality in a series of increasingly bizarre and violent organic hallucinations. The film has been described as “techno-surrealist“. (Wikipedia)

See previous postings about Videodrome from this blog here:

David Cronenberg’s Videodrome –

David Cronenberg’s “Videodrome” (1983) – Blu-ray Review –

David Cronenberg’s “Videodrome” (1983) & Marshall McLuhan –


One Response to “McLuhan Salon #4: The Digital Unconscious in Videodrome & Beyond”

  1. 1 paologranata



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