McLuhan-Inspired Artist Iain Baxter& Exhibition at the Hales Gallery, London, UK


 Iain Baxter& (b. 1936)

Iain Baxter& &Information – That famous aphorism ‘the medium is the message’ was spouted by Marshall McLuhan, the Canadian professor, philosopher and public intellectual back 1964, when his book, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, set the stage for my current train journey where I overhear the students discussing their A levels. ‘What are you doing?’ ‘Media Studies.’ ‘Oh, that’s useful.’ Some days I think he has changed everything about the world, one of the few truly influential academics and polemics of the twentieth century.

Also Canadian, and a younger contemporary (by 25 years) of McLuhan, the artist BAXTER& took his writings to heart and reapplied the thought to his field of vision, to his fundamental approach to making. Everything he does, it seems to me, thinks about the approach of McLuhan. The puns. The connections. The world of word and speed and time. He does not believe, as a traditional artist does, regarding representation or symbolism but is unhealthily concerned the medium itself. He reflects the space it creates around itself, together with its social effect. This obsession is what marks him out as a conceptual artist. In his visual art, the medium is thick and opaque, always visible. This approach kills art and long live art.

IAIN BAXTER& &Information Hales London

Art is the new lightbulb. It is electricity, purified by this self-analytical gaze. There’s something religious about this self-reflexion. You must never take your eyes of your medium for a moment. If you do, you become unaware, naive. You must consciously keep your eyes on what you are doing, never be fooled by the illusion of painting, of television, of novels. Keep your eyes on the frame of your own self-portrait.

BAXTER& literally made sure he made himself the message in 2005 when he changed his name to from Ian Baxter to Iain BAXTER& by deed poll. It’s a big statement which turns himself into a self-conscious brand. Call it pretension itself. No, there is no point using pretentious as an insult on someone who can never be embarrassed by this idea. So let himself call himself The &Man, creating images of the ampersand. Is it time to stop cringing yet?

BAXTER& claims that the ampersand symbolises the continued collaboration with the viewer, always aware of the social space around the medium (himself). The viewer must join in the new religion and keep the frame of the art within his viewpoint. Don’t forget to look at the frame! Readers, remember this is an article! We are not only talking to each other about BAXTER& and his art but also about the rest of art, about technology, ideology and social organisation!

This exhibition &Information is BAXTER& doing what BAXTER& does. Exploring art as information. Coining words that express his inclusive, expansive idea (do we really need these ideas and words?). BAXTER& is never without a camera, but that doesn’t sound so strange these days as we have all become camera carriers with our magic, multipurpose phones. He has documented and documented going about his daily artist business. Photographs, he has said, primarily act as a memory device and a means to understand the world, predicting the age when they lead to validation on social media… (Read the rest of this article at

Biographical Information about Iain Baxter&

The Hales Gallery, London, UK

Also, see McLuhan-Inspired Iain Baxter& honoured with exhibition at AGO on this blog

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