A Tetrad, illustration by Andrew McLuhan

As the College Printer at the Kelly Library, at the University of St Michael’s College, UofT, I’m heading up a team finalizing preparations for the launch on Monday, January 21 of the Canadian Fine Press Exhibition. Five University libraries are participating in the exhibition, opening their doors to show their special collections of hand printed chapbooks and ephemera.

Limited edition AND online book:

What is of particular note for the list is the release of a limited edition fine press publication being produced by the Kelly Library called A Tetrad, Measuring McLuhan’s Impact, demonstrating McLuhan’s tetrad concept. The chapbooks are letterpress printed on cotton paper and hand sewn.

As a true exploration in the future of the book, this chapbook extends to an online version of the book where McLuhan enthusiasts have the opportunity to add glosses in the interactive tetrad begun there, essentially co-authoring the ongoing text with their own input.

The online version of the Tetrad chapbook is located here: https://kellyexhibits.ca/tetrad
To add your own gloss to it click on the SUBMIT A GLOSS box. If accepted, your contribution will include your name and will remain online for at least a year.

  • Deborah Barnett, Print Studio, St Michael’s College, University of Toronto

The Tetrad chapbook is part of the Canadian Fine Press Exhibition

With exhibitions at five locations on the University of Toronto campus, the Canadian Fine Press Exhibit celebrates a wide range of letterpress publications, hand-printed ephemera, chapbooks, and other fine press works to be found within the university’s special collections and libraries.

The exhibition runs concurrently from January to May 2019 and includes spotlights on poetry chapbooks, Toronto area fine presses, individual printers and designers, and the career of printer and designer Glenn Goluska (1947-2011).

Discover numerous examples of artisanal publishing at its finest, as well as the stories behind the presses and printers that made these works possible.

Click on the image for a readable view

Imaginations, a peer-reviewed “multilingual, open-access journal of international visual cultural studies,” published a special issue of essays on McLuhan’s processes as they relate to art theory, the reaches and deficiencies of his scope, his collaborative projects and the thinking he continues to inspire in December of 2017.

To ease into the anthology, Mohammad Salemy’s brief essay on McLuhan’s role in the 1967 international media event produced by the BBC, Our World, is a fine place to start. Including a transcript of McLuhan’s first words to the global masses, Salemy highlights McLuhan’s prophetic consciousness of the impact this new immediacy in communication would have on human culture.

In an attempt to lift humanity from its anesthetized acceptance of the perceived inevitability of sociopolitical systems, McLuhan turned to artists to recontextualize the familiar. Kenneth R. Allen’s essay exploring “Marshall McLuhan’s Counterenvironment within the Stream of Defamiliarization” traces the lineage of these processes to early 19th century thinkers.

McLuhan’s taste for creative collaboration came from his desire to tackle “things from many angles at once.” A few essays in this issue of Imaginations explore specific project-based relationships with a healthy dose of sentimentality. Both Elena Lamberti and Alexander Kuskis’ contributions illuminate McLuhan’s digestion and elevation of the works and philosophies of sculptor/filmmaker Sorel Etrog and mixed-media collage artist P. Mansaram, respectively.

Jessica Jacobson-Konefall, May Chew and Daina Warren challenge McLuhan’s theory of media as message through the content-driven work of Cree multi-disciplinary artist Cheryl L’Hirondelle and bring to light McLuhan’s own perceptive limits based in anthropocentric colonial ideologies. Jody Berland’s contribution encourages defamiliarized reflective observation through the lenses of the animals humans interact with on domestic and agricultural levels.

Particularly poignant in the age of “fake news” is performance artist and writer Henry Adam Svec’s journey into “hoax art” and its relation to McLuhan’s media theory and creative practice. Svec plays into the power of suggestion with humour and delight.

These, among the rest of the essays in the collection, offer an invaluable bibliography on media theory and McLuhan’s influence and influences. Though some contributions may require some auxiliary research to fully absorb, this special issue of Imaginations only deepens the rabbit hole for curious minds searching beyond familiar systems for humanity’s true reflection.
Source:  Volume 73, Number 10 of The Uniter (November 15, 2018), https://goo.gl/TpteSz

Marshall McLuhan & the Arts was first published online in 2017 in Imaginations Journal 8:3. See https://goo.gl/5Ug2WD

It was later published in print by the University of Winnipeg in 2018. See https://goo.gl/sv22N2

Panchal Mansaram, who prefers to be identified as just Mansaram, was helped by Marshall McLuhan when he and his family immigrated to Canada from India in 1966. Later, McLuhan collaborated with Mansaram on a collage painting that was influenced by McLuhan’s ideas titled Rear View Mirror 74 (RVM 74) by personally adding some of the textual content. I published an article about McLuhan and Mansaram which was published first online in the Journal of Cross-Cultural Image Studies, which you can read here https://goo.gl/6dUQn4 and then later in print by the University of Winnipeg (see here https://goo.gl/gGGqn8 ).

P. Mansaram: The Medium is the Medium is the Medium

February 2 – March 23, 2019

Curated by Indu Vashist and Toleen Touq
Co-presented with SAVAC

Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, Hart House, University of Toronto

The exhibition The Medium is the Medium is the Medium presents works by media artist P. Mansaram and thinks through the artist’s decades-long practice of repetition. For Mansaram, repetition is art practice, repetition is meditation, repetition is spirituality, repetition is falling in love, and as he says, repetition is a way to finding god. Strategically using recurrence and reproduction through a variety of medium including drawing, painting, collage, text, sculpture, xerox, silkscreen printmaking, and film, Mansaram’s work invokes unending feelings of travel: through time, dimension and territory.

Spanning more than five decades, the selection of works highlights both material and spiritual elements from the artists’ surroundings and everyday life–including characters, symbols and spaces–to convey the artist’s meditative and transcendent processes in both form and content. In that regard, the ways in which Mansaram assembles different media and creates a sense of place present the viewer with a nuanced narrative of the diasporic experience.

Over the past decade, SAVAC has presented Mansaram’s work in several group programs and we are delighted to be able to shine a spotlight on his long career in this solo exhibition. Continuously tinkering with old works in response to contemporary shifts, Mansaram holds the rare ability of keeping an ever-evolving artistic practice that is both timely and germane.

Mansaram was born in 1934 in Mt. Abu, Rajasthan, India and studied at the Sir J. J. School of Art. Shortly after studying at the Rijks Academie in Amsterdam, he migrated to Canada in 1966. In 2016, the ROM acquired over 700 pieces from the artist’s archive reflecting over 50 years of his work.

P. Mansaram: The Medium is the Medium is the Medium is presented in collaboration with SAVAC (South Asian Visual Arts Centre), a nomadic artist-run organization dedicated to fostering imaginative thought among artists and curators of colours, and integrating them into the Canadian contemporary arts ecology.

Additional Exhibition Resources           Press Release

Opening Reception 

Saturday, February 2, 2019, 5-7pm
University of Toronto Art Centre

Extended exhibition hours from 7pm – 12am at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery and the University of Toronto Art Centre for the Night of Ideas.

Yoga Nidra with Taryn Diamond

Monday, February 11, 2019, 6pm
Justina M. Barnicke Gallery
Registration is required. Sold out.

Curatorial Tour with Indu Vashist and Toleen Touq

Wednesday, March 6, 2019, 6:30pm
Justina M. Barnicke Gallery

Artist Talk with P. Mansaram

Saturday, March 16, 2019, 1pm
Justina M. Barnicke Gallery

Drop In Guided Tours

Tuesdays at 2pm, beginning February 5, 2019
Meet at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery

Our Supporters – We gratefully acknowledge operating support from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council and Toronto Arts Council.
Source: https://artmuseum.utoronto.ca/

See also on this blog An Unpublished Interview with Marshall McLuhan (1967) by Artist P. Mansaram at https://goo.gl/X8Zx3o

Blair McDonald, a TRU professor in the JCNM program delivered a special lecture on the Canadian media icon Marshall McLuhan. (Photo by Aidan Grether)

The semester’s final session of the Arts Colloquium Series featured Blair McDonald, a professor of journalism, communication and new media, who presented on the influence of Marshall McLuhan [at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, BC).

Faculty members and students gathered in TRUSU’s Board Room on Nov. 21 to listen to McDonald present on the topic: Extending Legacies: Reappraisals of McLuhan’s Understanding Media.

Examining a few of McLuhan’s prophetic claims, McDonald discussed different ways in which McLuhan’s teachings could possibly influence future artists, researchers and critics, who now exist in a digital world.

McDonald also made reference to McLuhan’s 1964 book entitled, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man on the future of media.

Displaying one of his former reading lists from when he was a student at Trent University, he explained it was from a class where they explored one of McLuhan’s most famous quotes, “the medium is the message.”

McDonald acknowledged that the phrase has generated confusion from the time it was conceptualized and admitted that even today in his own classroom, McLuhan’s quote “reads rather cryptically with a new generation of students.”

“The medium is the message can be understood as a remarkable shift in media studies away from content analysis– so particular entertainment and media shows– into a discussion of media forms,” he said.

He explained that this incorporates everything from print to telephone, to television and radio. Moreover, he added that “how these forms themselves forever change the local landscape of mass communication and the people using them,” must also be taken into consideration.

Clarifying some of McLuhan’s ideas on technological determinism, McDonald talked about how technology can shape changes in culture.

“Technology shapes cultural change and then cultural changes are primarily caused by changes in communication, so we see that interconnectedness,” McDonald said.

He also mentioned that an example of this, which he teaches in his second-year Media History class, shows that the printing press made the creation of books possible.

McDonald explained that as a result, mass literacy was then considered an essential component of survival within that particular culture.

“It kind of removes the world of literacy and reading information as something which only elites can have and opens it up to the mass public,” McDonald elaborated.

McDonald also asserted that reading McLuhan’s work feels as if the media theorist is filling his brain with “new tracks.”

“He’s really unlike any kind of thinker that I have encountered in terms of his scope for the history of media and its effects on civilization,” said McDonald. “For the general public, McLuhan is one of the few intellectuals of the twentieth century who became a household name around the world.”

The Arts Colloquium Series is an event that allows faculty members to share their research and works in progress.

“It is a series that has been going for about five or six years now that is organized by some arts faculty members and it’s to encourage and nurture a collegial environment and culture of research amongst faculty members across campus,” stated Lisa Cook, one of the organizers and an associate professor of anthropology at TRU. Source: https://goo.gl/56uLz4

Evidently written in 1963, a year before McLuhan was to publish The Medium is the Message, this important article brings together in one place a number of the ideas that would appear in his most important book a year later: technology as human extensions, the Narcissus myth, psychic numbness that derives from our extensions, our unawareness of the effects on us of our media extensions,  new electric media as new languages with distinct, grammars, and others. We have to thank Eric McLuhan for publishing this otherwise little-known article in 1996 in McLuhan Studies, Issue 2. (see https://goo.gl/bw5TGc).

NOTE: this article takes its title from the old English phrase, “agenbite of inwit” which meant “remorse of conscience.” McLuhan was attracted to its pungency and to the various levels of implication and pun that it offered. Agenbite is a strange word, one that suggests ague and ache, and pain and biting. Inwit, a term for conscience, suggests the inner senses and interior sensibility, which accords nicely with the current state of the senses under the regime of electric technologies. Here, he has reversed the title, and flipped it in the direction of the outer sense or visual stress. The strain thus produced reverberates nicely with direct and indirect implications. – Eric McLuhan [The phrase was used by James Joyce in the Telemachus section of Ulysses (1922), which is where McLuhan might have picked it up], see https://goo.gl/zedNF9.]

The Agenbite of Outwit (1963)

With the telegraph Western man began a process of putting his nerves outside his body. Previous technologies had been extensions of physical organs: the wheel is a putting-outside-ourselves of the feet; the city wall is a collective outering of the skin. But electronic media are, instead, extensions of the central nervous system, an inclusive and simultaneous field. Since the telegraph we have extended the brains and nerves of man around the globe. As a result, the electronic age endures a total uneasiness, as of a man wearing his skull inside and his brain outside. We have become peculiarly vulnerable. The year of the establishment of the commercial telegraph in America, 1844, was also the year Kierkegaard published The Concept of Dread.

A special property of all social extensions of the body is that they return to plague the inventors in a kind of agenbite of outwit. As Narcissus fell in love with an outering (projection, extension) of himself, man seems invariably to fall in love with the newest gadget or gimmick that is merely an extension of his own body. Driving a car or watching television, we tend to forget that what we have to do with is simply a part of ourselves stuck out there. Thus disposed, we become servo-mechanisms of our contrivances, responding to them in the immediate, mechanical way that they demand of us. The point of the Narcissus myth is not that people are prone to fall in love with their own images but that people fall in love with extensions of themselves which they are convinced are not extensions of themselves. This provides, I think, a fairly good image of all of our technologies, and it directs us towards a basic issue, the idolatry of technology as involving a psychic numbness.

Every generation poised on the edge of a massive change seems, to later observers, to have been oblivious of the issues and the imminent event. But it is necessary to understand the power of technologies to isolate the senses and thus to hypnotize society. The formula for hypnosis is “one sense at a time.” Our private senses are not closed systems but are endlessly translated into one another in the synesthetic experience we call consciousness. Our extended senses, tools, or technologies, have been closed systems incapable of interplay. Every new technology diminishes sense interplay and awareness for precisely the area ministered to by that technology: a kind of identification of viewer and object occurs. This conforming of the beholder to the new form or structure renders those most deeply immersed in a revolution the least aware of its dynamic. At such times it is felt that the future will be a larger or greatly improved version of the immediate past.

The new electronic technology, however, is not a closed system. As an extension of the central nervous system, it deals precisely in awareness, interplay and dialogue. In the electronic age, the very instantaneous nature of the co-existence among our technological instruments has created a crisis quite new in human history. Our extended faculties and senses now constitute a single field of experience which demands that they become collectively conscious, like the central nervous system itself. Fragmentation and specialization, features of mechanism, are absent.

To the extent that we are unaware of the nature of the new electronic forms, we are manipulated by them. Let me offer, as an example of the way in which a new technology can transform institutions and modes of procedure, a bit of testimony by Albert Speer, German armaments minister in 1942, at the Nuremberg trials:

The telephone, the teleprinter and the wireless made it possible for orders from the highest levels to be given directly to the lowest levels, where, on account of the absolute authority behind them, they were carried out uncrtitically; or brought it about that numerous offices and command centers were directly connected with the supreme leadership from which they received their sinister orders without any intermediary; or resulted in the widespread surveillance of the citizen; or in a high degree of secrecy surrounding criminal happenings. To the outside observer this governmental apparatus may have resembled the apparently chaotic confusion of lines at a telephone exchange, but like the latter it could be controlled and operated from one central source. Former dictatorships needed collaborators of high quality even in the lower levels of leadership, men who could think and act independently. In the era of modern technique an authoritarian system can do without this. The means of communication alone permit it to mechanize the work of subordinate leadership. As a consequence a new type develops: the uncritical recipient of orders.

Television and radio are immense extension of ourselves which enable us to participate in one another’s lives, much as a language does. But the modes of participation are already built into the technology; these new languages have their own grammars.

The ways of thinking implanted by electronic culture are very different from those fostered by print culture. Since the Renaissance most methods and procedures have strongly tended towards stress on the visual organization and application of knowledge. The assumptions latent in typographic segmentation manifest themselves in the fragmentation of crafts and the specializing of social tasks. Literacy stresses lineality, a one-thing-at-a-time awareness and mode of procedure. From it derive the assembly line and the order of battle, the managerial hierarchy and the departmentalizations of scholarly decorum. Gutenberg gave us analysis and explosion. By fragmenting the field of perception and information into static bits, we have accomplished wonders.

But electronic media proceed differently. Television, radio and the newspaper (at the point where it was linked with the telegraph) deal in auditory space, by which I mean that sphere of simultaneous relations created by the act of hearing. We hear from all directions at once; this creates a unique, unvisualizable space. The all-at-once-ness of auditory space is the exact opposite of lineality, of taking one thing at a time. It is very confusing to learn that the mosaic of a newspaper page is “auditory” in basic structure. This, however, is only to say that any pattern in which the components co-exist without direct, lineal hook-up or connection, creating a field of simultaneous relations, is auditory, even though some of its aspects can be seen. The items of news and advertising that exist under a newspaper dateline are interrelated only by that dateline. They have no interconnection of logic or statement. Yet they form a mosaic of corporate image whose parts are interpenetrating. Such is also the kind of order that tends to exist in a city or a culture. It is a kind of orchestral, resonating unity, not the unity of logical discourse.

The tribalizing power of the new electronic media, the way in which they return us to the unified fields of the old oral cultures, to tribal cohesion and pre-individualist patterns of thought, is little understood. Tribalism is the sense of the deep bond of family, the closed society as the norm of community. Literacy, the visual technology, dissolved the tribal magic by means of its stress on fragmentation and specialization, and created the individual. The electronic media, however, are group forms. Post-literate man’s electronic media contract the world to a tribe or village where everything happens to everyone at the same time: everyone knows about, and therefore participates in, everything that is happening the moment it happens. Because we do not understand these things, because of the numbing power of the technology itself, we are helpless while undergoing a revolution in our North American sense-lives, via the television image. It is a change comparable to that experienced by Europeans in the twenties and thirties, when the new radio image reconstituted overnight the tribal character long absent from European life. Our extremely visual world had immunity from the radio image, but not from the scanning finger of the TV mosaic.

It would be hard to imagine a state of confusion greater than our own. Literacy gave us an eye for an ear and succeeded in detribalizing that portion of mankind that we refer to as the Western world. We are now engaged in an accelerated program of detribalization of all backward parts of the world by introducing there our own ancient print technology at the same time that we are engaged in retribalizing ourselves by means of the new electronic technology. It is like becoming conscious of the unconscious, and of consciously promoting unconscious values by an ever clearer consciousness.

When we pout our central nervous system outside us we returned to the primal nomadic state. We have become like the most primitive paleolithic man, once more global wanderers, but information gatherers rather than food gatherers. From now on the source of food, wealth and life itself will be information. The transforming of this information into products is now a problem for the automation experts, no longer a matter for the utmost division of human labour and skill. Automation, as we all know, dispenses with personnel. This terrifies mechanical man because he does not know what to do about the transition, but it simply means that work is finished, over and done with. The concept of work is closely allied to that of specialization, of special functions and non-involvement; before specialization there was no work. Man in the future will not work, automation will work for him, but he may be totally involved as a painter is, or as a thinker is, or as a poet is. Man works when he is partially involved. When he is totally involved, he is at play or at leisure.

Man in the electronic age has no possible environment except the globe and no possible occupation except information-gathering. By simply moving information and brushing information against information, any medium whatever creates vast wealth. The richest corporation in the world — Atlantic Telephone and Telegraph–has only one function: moving information about. Simply by talking to one another, we create wealth. Any child watching a TV show should be paid because he or she is creating wealth for the community. But this wealth is not money. Money is obsolete because it stores work (and work, and jobs, are themselves obsolete, as we see daily). In a workless, non-specialist society, money is useless. What we need is a credit card, which is information.

When new technologies impose themselves on societies long habituated to older technologies, anxieties of all kinds result. Our electronic world now calls for a unified field of global awareness; the kind of private consciousness appropriate to literate man can be viewed as an unbearable kink in the collective consciousness demanded by electronic information movement. In this impasse, suspension of all automatic reflexes would seem to be in order. I believe that artists, in all media, respond soonest to the challenges of new pressures. I would like to suggest that they also show us ways of living with new technology without destroying earlier forms and achievements. The new media, too, are not toys; they should not be in the hands of Mother Goose and Peter Pan executives. They can be entrusted only to new artists.
(Source: McLuhan Studies, Issue 2, https://goo.gl/imeodQ)

Addendum: I had thought that The Agenbite of Outwit was a posthumously-published article in McLuhan Studies 2, however, Bob Dobbs pointed out that it was first published in Spring 1963. “The Agenbite of Outwit.” Location magazine, Vol. 1, No. 1 (New York: The Longview Foundation, Inc.), pp. 41-44. And Andrew McLuhan added that it was included in the box of materials forming part of John Cage’s Rolywholyover A Circus (New York: Rizzoli, n.d., ca. 1992). (Rolywholyover—Cage’s last major work—is a silver metal box containing a number of unpaginated texts, many on transparent paper: it accompanied the “museum performance” of the same name.) and later in Michel A. Moos, ed., Media Research: Technology, Art, Communication – Essays by Marshall McLuhan (Amsterdam: Overseas Publishers Association, 1997), pp.121-125. Then again in “Rimorso di incoscienza”, in Lettera internazionale 98 (2008), translated to Italian by Laura Talarico, pp.29-30.

 Junichi Miyazawa

I had heard of Junichi Miyazawa, a Japanese academic who had written a book about Marshall McLuhan, several years ago but didn’t have any detailed information. This past September I had the good fortune of unexpectedly meeting him at the Many McLuhans Symposium at the Fisher Library in the University of Toronto. I learned that he is a visiting scholar for a year at the University of Toronto and in residence as a Senior Fellow at Massey College, my former college. He is also a Visiting Professor at the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies, York University, where he is cross-appointed. His scholarly accomplishments are impressive and we are fortunate at the University of Toronto to have him in our community.

There is an online account of Junichi’s extensive cultural interests and accomplishments in literature, music, film and the arts in general which can be found here  https://goo.gl/9a78Ba). The following segments are selectively extracted from that account.


Junichi Miyazawa, a professor at Aoyama Gakuin University (School of Cultural and Creative Studies), Tokyo, is an accomplished researcher and writer in the areas of literature, arts and media, with a special interest in Canadian studies. He has developed a reputation as one of the world’s leading Glenn Gould scholars. Having started with an academic background in Russian literature, Junichi Miyazawa has written numerous papers and articles on various aspects of music and literature. He has also lectured extensively around the world at various events, including international symposia and conferences. Junichi Miyazawa is also a prolific translator in several languages. Most notably he has translated from English, Russian and French more than 10 published books on music, film and literature. With his unique profile and exceptional talent, Junichi Miyazawa is regarded as one of the most remarkable interdisciplinarians in Japan or anywhere. Junichi Miyazawa holds a Ph.D. from the University of Tokyo (2007).

Breadth of Interests

He is recognized as one of the world’s leading Glenn Gould scholars. His Guren Gurudo ron (Glenn Gould: A Perspective, Tokyo, 2004) was awarded the Yoshida-Hidekazu-Sho, Japan’s highest prize for music writing. Along with academic papers, Miyazawa has contributed numerous notes to Japanese releases of Glenn Gould’s CDs and DVDs, including two compilation albums of Ryuichi Sakamoto Selections. Miyazawa is also a prolific translator: he has translated into Japanese fifteen books from English and Russian, including literature by or about Glenn Gould, the materials of Andrey Tarkovsky’s film The Mirror, and Timothy Findley’s novel The Wars. Another book he authored is Makuruhan no Kokei (McLuhan in-Sight, Tokyo, 2007). (Source https://goo.gl/2au5AB)

Dr. Miyazawa sent the following comments to me about his McLuhan book: “My McLuhan’s book might be interesting. It is a three-lecture style to introduce McLuhan’s idea to Japanese high school students, starting with a perusal of “The Agenbite of Outwit”(1963). I particularly chose “Agenbite” because it is the very article John Cage repeatedly praised. So in the 3rd “lecture” in the book, I discussed the idea of the global village, and clarified the reason why John Cage loved the text. I also have 15 translations, including Glenn Gould literature and Terence Gordon’s “McLuhan for Beginners”. Readers unfamiliar with McLuhan’s “The Agenbite of Outwit” can read the text here: https://goo.gl/H4D8gb.

Research on Marshall McLuhan

The focus of Junichi Miyazawa’s research in the Exchange Program (Canada-Japan Peace and Friendship Exchange Program, 1999) was Glenn Gould’s cultural influences, and in particular the influence of his contemporary, Canadian media thinker Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980). In the course of his research in Canada, including access to McLuhan’s personal papers at the National Archive of Canada, Junichi Miyazawa found McLuhan to be a fertile topic of study in his own right. The author of The Gutenberg Galaxy and Understanding Media was not so much a sociologist as a literary scholar, who observed all the “media” (i.e. any extension of human beings) as metaphors. In Japan, McLuhan’s works have not been widely studied and appreciated from this literary perspective. Junichi Miyazawa, therefore, decided to incorporate McLuhan into his work and retrieve the media thinker’s fertile imagination into the world of human science. His recent book is entitled Makuruhan no kokei (McLuhan in-Sight), a book on his consideration of the media guru, starting with a meticulous analysis of “Agenbite of Outwit”(1963).

The first McLuhanian effort by Junichi Miyazawa is the Japanese edition of W. Terrence Gordon’s McLuhan for Beginners, with a chronology and extended bibliography by Junichi Miyazawa  (2001).  Further works on McLuhan will appear in papers, lectures and translations.

Junichi Miyazawa’s Makuruhan no kokei (McLuhan in-Sight) (photo by Paolo Granata)

On January 30, 2019, Jody Berland, Canadian professor in the Department of Humanities at the University of Toronto, delivers this year’s McLuhan Lecture at the Embassy of Canada in Berlin, entitled Extending McLuhan’s Posthumanism: Feeling The Techno-Animal Embrace. In this lecture, she is placing McLuhan’s definition of media technologies as prostheses that extend our limbs and nervous systems in the context of contemporary posthumanism. Considering that animals (just as media in McLuhan’s thesis) influence the sensory balance and experience of the human body, Berland opens a mediology of the animal through stories and images in order to illuminate essential links between our colonial past and our Anthropocene present.

 Jody Berland

Jody Berland is an award-winning scholar whose research and teaching provide interdisciplinary explorations of how nature, technology and representation interact in visual and sonic culture. Her forthcoming book, ‘Virtual Menageries in Network Cultures’ addresses the widespread appearance of animals in contemporary visual and digital culture. She is Editor Emerita of TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies and has supervised many theses and dissertations. She is Visiting Professor, Centre for Human Animal Studies, Edge Hill University, UK, and Research Fellow, Media and Communications, Goldsmiths, University of London.


Additionally, Canadian artist Serena Lee will present and perform her work Kinds of Caves and Wholes and Parts (2017), connecting to the thematics of Berland’s lecture through voice and a collage landscape of carpeted cat trees, office spaces, and a pensive feline inhabitant. Dead matter and living beings both seem to figure as potential feelings still pending between dream and reality.

The transmediale Marshall McLuhan Program is a cooperation between transmediale and the Embassy of Canada in Berlin.

In English; free admission upon pre-registration. Please register here.
Please present a valid photo-ID at the door and allow sufficient time for Embassy security.

transmediale Marshall McLuhan Program
30 January 2019, 19:30, Doors open 19:00
Embassy of Canada, Leipziger Platz 17, 10117 Berlin

Click on the image for an expanded view.

To be published by NeoPoiesis Press early in 2019…


Street Art Photos by Marshall Soules

An early shorter version of this work was published on the McLuhan Galaxy blog on May 28, 2017. The following two paragraphs are reproduced from that preliminary version.

We´re experiencing the charge in the global membrane… By this I mean immersion in our electrified technological environment. All the puns in charge implied. Marshall McLuhan was one of the first to recognize we´re wired up, transformed, wholly inside borderless, transnational, instantaneous, entangling, speeding, here-there-everywhere-now states, in an always intensifying mutable milieu.

The global village became the global theatre: the theatre has become the global membrane. This phrase adapts what Teilhard de Chardin called “the noosphere,” the subliminal layering of externalized thought and emotions around our planet, in our era of apogees and abysses. The charge is the recognition of the second creation, the second Big Bang: the experience of technological expansion through electrification and the resulting accelerating streams and pulses of data-energy.


“If Marshall McLuhan were to rejoin us today, he would be stunned at how much has changed so quickly. Powe’s Membrane text does the update exactly as McLuhan would. The art work by Marshall Soules is nothing short of amazing. He’s a sort of Wyndham Lewis, Marc Chagall, and Picasso rolled into one.” 
– W. Terrence Gordon, author of Marshall McLuhan: Escape into Understanding, dramatist and essayist

“The overlapping of inner and outer landscapes in Powe’s new work transcends the paper membrane and turns the act of reading into an empowering visionary experience. Soules’s images beautifully respond to such a witty form. Together, words and imageries shape a much-needed performative storytelling that fosters transnational civic awareness at a time of dramatic global challenges.” 
– Elena Lamberti, author of Marshall McLuhan’s Mosaic: Probing the Literary Origins of Media Studies, University of Bologna.

The publisher’s listing: http://www.neopoiesispress.com/

 Antenna Head, Havana, 2016

How books irrevocably changed culture, according to media philosopher Marshall McLuhan

Explore McLuhan’s theory on print culture and its influential hold over civilization.

  • Marshall McLuhan said the advent of printed books gave way to print culture, of which he believed went on to shape and mold Western culture’s psyche.
  • McLuhan is well known for his coined phrases, such as “the medium is the message” and the “Global Village.”
  • Misunderstood by many at his time, his prescient prediction of the internet and other implications of electronic culture are issues we still need to address and explore today.

For a brief period of time during the ’60s and ’70s, Marshall McLuhan was a household name. He had an incredible sway and extraordinary influence on American culture. McLuhan was also highly influential in many psychedelic and counterculture circles.Much of his influence in any major intellectual sphere died out in the early ’70s, however.

As we’ve settled into digital culture we know today, McLuhan’s theories and ideas tend to pop up — decades since they were first uttered — for renewed debate and exploration. Some of them are more relevant than ever.

Weaned off the prose of James Joyce, McLuhan was a Joycean scholar, literary critic and, in a greater sense, a medievalist scholar before taking the world stage as a media savant. One of McLuhan’s main theories was that the creation of the printing press led to the Industrial Revolution, and subsequent print media would be the ethereal cultural catalyst and guiding force that brought upon the fragmented and alienated world humans exist in today.

McLuhan had believed that the Age of Print Culture was giving way to a new electronic culture. Many years ahead of his time, and well-read to the umpteenth power, McLuhan’s words take a lot of effort to understand.

Gutenberg’s Galaxy & print culture

Running throughout much of McLuhan’s philosophy was a certain kind of technological determinism. This is the idea that certain media technologies can be more important in framing how the public thinks than the content or context they hold.

Media theorist Neil Postman elucidated this concept quite clearly when he stated,

The printing press, the computer, and television are not therefore simply machines which convey information. They are metaphors through which we conceptualize reality in one way or another. They will classify the world for us, sequence it, frame it, enlarge it, reduce it, argue a case for what it is like. Through these media metaphors, we do not see the world as it is. We see it as our coding systems are. Such is the power of the form of information.

McLuhan’s famed “the medium is the message,” encompasses this ideal when he explained that the printing press, since its inception by Johannes Gutenberg in 1440, immensely shaped and influenced culture, particularly with the advent of books.

When asked about the impact of the invention of the printing press in an interview, McLuhan gave a number of examples of the unexpected consequence of this technology. Of them, was the rise of readerships — audiences.

It created — almost overnight it created — what we call a nationalism, what in effect was a public. The old manuscript forms were not sufficiently powerful instruments of technology to create publics in the sense that print was able to do — unified, homogeneous, reading publics.

Understanding McLuhan’s work has become more important than ever in the dawn of an electronic and interconnected global culture. Through his words we can better acknowledge the influence much older and ancient mediums — in this case, printable type and subsequently books — have had on local and global culture. By this, we can better understand where we are right now. Perhaps even in regard to fake news and widespread misinformation… (Read the rest at https://goo.gl/96M2Rs)

 McLuhan in 1963

 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 https://goo.gl/kPWqir).

Biographical Information about Iain Baxter& https://goo.gl/y9KCV3

The Hales Gallery, London, UK https://goo.gl/kWLs38

Also, see McLuhan-Inspired Iain Baxter& honoured with exhibition at AGO on this blog https://goo.gl/GLiKC1