This year’s transmediale Marshall McLuhan Lecture was delivered by Sarah Sharma, Director of the McLuhan Program in Culture & Technology at the University of Toronto, who focuses on the intersectional politics of time, class, gender, and race in her research. For the lecture, Sharma spoke under the title “Exit and the Extensions of Man”, which extends from her ongoing research on the male fantasy of exit as it manifests itself in a set of seemingly disparate sites: nationalist movements, robots designed to provide loving care, and the leftist refusal of work paradigm. While taking stock of this masculinist penchant for exit and paying particular attention to the «message» and extensions of our new machines, Sharma considered whether a door has opened for a feminist exit movement. In her talk, Sharma wondered who will pick up the pieces when the robots leave and there is nowhere left to go?
A video of her lecture will be posted here when it becomes available online. These photographs have been made available by transmediale in Berlin and additional photos can be viewed at https://goo.gl/ZgTVLY .
transmediale Marshall McLuhan Lecture 2017: Exit & the Extensions of Man
(Click on photos for an expanded view.)
Kristoffer Gansing introducing the Marshall McLuhan Lecture 2017
Dr. Sarah Sharma presenting the lecture: “Exit and the Extensions of Man”
Baruch Gottlieb (left) in conversation with Dr. Sarah Sharma (right)
Read about Dr. Sarah Sharma, Director of the McLuhan Program in Culture & Technology at the University of Toronto here https://goo.gl/j63tfc .
Primo Conti, Profughe alla stazione (Refugees at the Station)
By Patrick Roesle
While McLuhan was the person who coined the term “global village” to characterize of our new wired world, today we often load the phrase with idyllic or utopian connotations that McLuhan did not intend. Quite the contrary. During a 1977 interview on TV Ontario’s The Education of Mike McManus (incidentally McLuhan’s final television appearance), the host asks: “Way back in the early fifties, you predicted that the world was becoming a global village. We’d have global consciousness. And I’m wondering now, do you think it’s happening?”
After getting a couple of cryptic answers from McLuhan, McManus tries to bring his guest to terra firma.
McManus: But it seems, Dr. McLuhan, that this tribal world is not friendly.
McLuhan: Oh no, tribal people, one of their main kinds of sport is butchering each other. It’s a full-time sport in tribal societies.
McManus: But I had some idea that as we got global and tribal we were going to try to——
McLuhan: The closer you get together, the more you like each other? There’s no evidence of that in any situation that we’ve ever heard of. When people get close together, they get more and more savage, impatient with each together….The global village is a place of very arduous interfaces and very abrasive situations.
Central to McLuhan’s scheme are “tribal” and “literate” social modes. Preliterate cultures were tribal: they inhabited a sensual, dynamic, nonlinear world—the “implicit, magical world of the resonant oral word, [encountering] not efficient causes but formal causes of configurational field.” Reality was taken in through all five senses (with emphasis on oral communication), and concepts such as individualism and privacy were not merely foreign, they were inconceivable.
But then the phonetic alphabet and the printing press detribalized Western culture, imposing linear thought, a reliance on sight at the expense of the other (more interactive) senses, individualism (and its corollary, isolation), and a kind of emotional anesthetic upon “civilized” humanity—creatures “crude and numb in their perceptions, compared with the hyperesthesia of oral and auditory cultures.” Over the centuries, “tribal man” became “Western man.”
Electronic media, McLuhan argued, were having a retribalizing effect on culture. From the Playboy interview:
The electronically induced technological extensions of our central nervous systems, which I spoke of earlier, are immersing us in a world-pool of information movement and are thus enabling man to incorporate within himself the whole of mankind. The aloof and dissociated role of the literate man of the Western world is succumbing to the new, intense depth participation engendered by the electronic media and bringing us back in touch with ourselves as well as with one another. But the instant nature of electric-information movement is decentralizing——rather than enlarging——the family of man into a new state of multitudinous tribal existences. Particularly in countries where literate values are deeply institutionalized, this is a highly traumatic process, since the clash of the old segmented visual culture and the new integral electronic culture creates a crisis of identity, a vacuum of the self, which generates tremendous violence——violence that is simply an identity quest, private or corporate, social or commercial….
McLuhan was saying this twenty years before the invention of the world wide web. And he pretty much nailed it. “Western man” is metamorphosizing into “electronic man.”
When a person finds herself alone in a strange town or a new city, she will be drawn towards places that interest her, to people she finds amicable or fascinating. We do this in most any scenario. We know it practically a priori. But this tendency takes on a new social dimension once we eliminate distance as a factor.
A “community” once necessarily had to refer to a group of people living in (reasonably) close proximity to each other. Today any group of people, regardless of geographic dispersion, with a shared interest and a spot in cyberspace where they can relay and receive messages can become a community. Thus, a hundred people, with a mean distance of 250 miles between them and a mutual interest in, say, artisanal dental floss or the cartoon BraveStarr can now become the “artisanal dental floss community” and the “BraveStarr fandom.” (Fans have been around for decades. The advent of the fandom, however, was contingent upon the internet.) Read the rest of this article at https://goo.gl/Vk0VRR .“Identity Is Always Accompanied by Violence” — Marshall McLuhan on Globalism and Tribalism
Allen Ginsberg was one of several high-profile guests at a controversial conference on LSD held at the University of Toronto in 1967. (DON DUTTON)
Panelists largely supported LSD use, saying it boosted human creativity to previously-unseen levels.
“The use of these drugs, I think, has a very positive effect on writers. They are used by almost all the avant-garde,” Ginsberg said during an on-stage interview.Even McLuhan, who attended the conference with his wife, chatted up Ginsberg and other panelists (and, according to student paper Excalibur, wore a psychedelic ‘third eye’ the whole time).
Star columnist Sidney Katz, however, bemoaned youth using it as a sort of psychological instant gratification.
“The very people who should not be taking LSD are the ones using it; people take it because they feel they are not where the action is,” Katz said.
Perception ’67, according to the Star, ended with an ear-thrashing courtesy of The Fugs—a hairy, psychedelic rock collective from New York:
“Suddenly, the whole audience of 2,000 heard the Fugs screaming words that are only an echo today—they probably won’t be heard again.” (Source: https://goo.gl/0k7yAx )
Marshall McLuhan in his Coach House study with a picture of Allen Ginsburg over his books
See also Timothy Leary, Marshall McLuhan & Electronic Media – https://goo.gl/eKYfsJ
See also Timothy Leary and Marshall McLuhan, turned on and tuned in – https://goo.gl/DkUpXd
“Electric technology, by virtue of its immediate relation to our nervous system, is itself a sort of inner trip, with drugs playing the role of sub-plot or alternative mode. It may well appear a few years hence that the panic about psychedelic drugs relates less to the chemistry than to the hidden terrors which people feel in the presence of electric technology.” –Marshall McLuhan, June 1974
McLuhan Centre Winter Program, Monday Night Seminar – Poetry:The Still Point of the Turning World, Feb. 13
Monday Night Seminar
LOCATION: McLuhan Centre for Culture & Technology, 39A Queens Park Crescent East off 121 St. Joseph St., Toronto, ON M5S 2C3
Monday Night Seminar: Monday, February 13th, 6:00 – 8:00 PM
Description: Join Toronto’s poet laureate Anne Michaels and her guests Joseph Kertes and Moez Surani for an evening of probing poetry and discourse. This evening will explore the importance of poetry: an ancient form of civic engagement which continues to speak in our rapidly changing world of digital media and data. Moderated by David Nostbakken, McLuhan Centenary Fellow.
NB: Participants are welcome to bring a favourite poem – any poem that is meaningful to them by a poet they admire – which could be read aloud and contribute to the discussion.
ANNE MICHAELS is an internationally acclaimed novelist and poet. Her books are translated and published in over forty-five countries and have won dozens of international awards, including the Orange Prize, the Guardian Fiction Prize, and the Lannan Award for Fiction. She has been shortlisted for the Giller Prize (twice), the Governor-General’s Award, and long-listed for the IMPAC Award (twice). Her novel FUGITIVE PIECES was adapted as a feature film. Her latest book of poetry, CORRESPONDENCES, was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2014. She is Toronto’s Poet Laureate.”
JOSEPH KERTES is a critically acclaimed novelist whose most recent book, The Afterlife of Stars, has just been released in the U.S. and was chosen by the New York Times for their “10 New Books We Recommend This Week”. Kertes has received the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour as well as the Canadian Jewish Book Award and the U.S. Jewish Book Award for Fiction. He is the founder of the widely respected creative writing and comedy programs at Humber College, where he served for many years as Dean of Creative and Performing Arts. As a student at the University of Toronto, he was encouraged in his writing by Marshall McLuhan.
MOEZ SURANI has published three books of poems – Reticent Bodies, Floating Life, and Operation. His poems have appeared in The Walrus, Harper’s Magazine, and was anthologized in Best Canadian Poetry in both 2013 and 2014. He has received a Chalmers Fellowship and was awarded the Kingston Literary prize, as well as Antigonish Review’s Great Blue Heron Poetry Prize.
REGISTER NOW at https://goo.gl/Q3jyEf
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 email@example.com with your request, but only if you are certain that you will be attending.
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 – https://goo.gl/jPxDIF
David Cronenberg’s “Videodrome” (1983) – Blu-ray Review – https://goo.gl/Ie1fQd
David Cronenberg’s “Videodrome” (1983) & Marshall McLuhan – https://goo.gl/dzFn13
(November 5, 1894 – November 8, 1952)
Thanks for the lecture re-print. This makes an opportunity for me to mention my interest in the work you are doing in communication study in general. I think there are lines appearing in Empire and Communications, for example, which suggest the possibility of organizing an entire school of studies. Many of the ancient language theories of the Logos type which you cite for their bearings on government and society have recurred and amalgamated themselves today under the auspices of anthropology and social psychology. Working concepts of “collective consciousness” in advertising agencies have in turn given salience and practical effectiveness to these “magical” notions of language.
But it was most of all the esthetic discoveries of the symbolists since Rimbaud and Mallarmé (developed in English by Joyce, Eliot, Pound, Lewis and Yeats) which have served to recreate in contemporary consciousness an awareness of the potencies of language such as the Western world has not experienced in 1800 years..
Mallarmé saw the modern press as a magical institution born of technology. The discontinuous juxtaposition of unrelated items made necessary by the influx of news stories from every quarter of the world, created, he saw, a symbolic landscape of great power and importance. (He used the word “symbol” in the strict Greek sense sym-ballein, to pitch together, physically and musically). He saw at once that the modern press was not a rational form but a magical one so far as communication was concerned. Its very technological form was bound to be efficacious far beyond any informative purpose. Politics were becoming musical, jazzy, magical.
The same symbolist perception applied to cinema showed that the montage of images was basically a return via technology to age-old picture language. S. Eisenstein’s Film Forum and Film Technique explore the relations between modern developments in the arts and Chinese ideogram, pointing to the common basis of ideogram in modern art, science and technology.
One major discovery of the symbolists which had the greatest importance for subsequent investigation was their notion of the learning process as a labyrinth of the senses and faculties whose retracing provided the key to all arts and sciences (basis of myth of Daedalus, basic for the dreams and schemes of Francis Bacon, and, when transferred by Vico to philology and history of culture, it also forms the basis of modern historiography, archaeology, psychology and artistic procedures alike.) Retracing becomes in modern historical scholarship the technique of reconstruction. The technique which Edgar Poe first put to work in his detective stories. In the arts this discovery has had all those astonishing results which have seemed to separate the ordinary public from what it regards as esoteric magic. From the point of view of the artist however the business of art is no longer the communication of thoughts or feelings which are to be conceptually ordered, but a direct participation in an experience. The whole tendency of modern communication whether in the press, in advertizing, or in the high arts is toward participation in a process, rather than apprehension of concepts. And this major revolution, intimately linked to technology, is one whose consequences have not begun to be studied although they have begun to be felt.
Read the rest at https://goo.gl/CJUZ1U
This letter is especially memorable for its anticipation of what McLuhan in paragraph one calls “an entire school of studies”, which later became known as the Toronto School of Communication and was foundational for the nascent field of Communication Studies. He offers more detail about this future “school” in the second last paragraph, which you can read in context by following the above link. The later Toronto School turned out not to be a bricks-and-mortar place-based school, but rather a conceptual school about how to study media. Here is that second last paragraph:-
It seems obvious to me that Bloor St. is the one point in this University where one might establish a focus of the arts and sciences. And the organizing concept would naturally be “Communication Theory and practice.” A simultaneous focus of current and historic forms. Relevance to be given to selection of areas of study by dominant artistic and scientific modes of the particular period. Arts here used as providing criteria, techniques of observation, and bodies of recorded, achieved, experience. Points of departure but also return.
The full letter with explanatory footnotes can be found in: Molinaro, M., McLuhan, C. &, Toye, W. (Eds.). (1987). Letters of Marshall McLuhan. Toronto: Oxford University Press, pp. 220-223.
Extended Call for Papers: The 18th Annual Convention of the Media Ecology Association, Saint Mary’s College Of California, June 2017
EXTENDED DEADLINE: FEBRUARY 28, 2017
Technology, Spirituality, Ecology
Saint Mary’s College Of California
JUNE 22-25, 2017
Responding to a large number of requests, the deadline for proposal submissions for the 18th annual convention of the Media Ecology Association (MEA) has been extended to February 28, 2017.
Saint Mary’s College of California is proud to host the 18th annual convention of the Media Ecology Association (MEA). Founded in 1863, Saint Mary’s is one of the oldest colleges in the western U.S. with the original location in San Francisco and now located on a 420-acre campus in the Moraga Valley, 20 miles east of San Francisco. The convention will be held from June 22 through 25, 2017.
Media Ecology is a wide tent whose history, perspectives and scholarly interests incorporate a broad array of academic and professional disciplines focusing on “the study of media environments and the idea that technology and techniques, modes of information and codes of communication play a leading role in human affairs” (Lance Strate, 1999). This interdisciplinary approach towards the exploration of media as environments fosters a rich discourse of investigation, and each MEA convention provides a unique opportunity for academics and professionals to come together in a relaxed, convivial and intimate environment that encourages deep conversations alongside activities that encourage friendship and fun.
The theme for the 18th annual MEA Convention is Technology, Spirituality, Ecology. This tri-part theme provides a confluence of topics that represent major global concerns in the contemporary age. This is probably best articulated in the papal encyclical from Pope Francis, Laudato Si, when he stated that “when media and the digital world become omnipresent, their influence can stop people from learning how to live wisely, to think deeply and to love generously. In this context, the great sages of the past run the risk of going unheard amid the noise and distractions of an information overload. Efforts need to be made to help these media become sources of new cultural progress for humanity and not a threat to our deepest riches. True wisdom, as the fruit of self-examination, dialogue and a generous encounter between persons, is not acquired by a mere accumulation of data which eventually leads to overload and confusion, a sort of mental pollution. Real relationships with others, with all the challenges they entail, now tend to be replaced by a type of internet communication which enables us to choose or eliminate relationships at whim, thus giving rise to a new type of contrived emotion which has more to do with devices and displays than with other people and with nature” (para. 47).
With this as context, we invite paper and panel proposals that address one or more of the three core themes. Although we encourage submissions that touch upon or align with, the convention theme, papers, abstracts, and panel proposal, submissions from all areas of Media Ecology are welcome. A maximum of two submissions per author will be accepted. Authors who wish their papers to be considered for the Top Paper or Top Student Paper award must indicate this on their submission(s). The top papers will be published in Explorations in Media Ecology, the journal of the MEA. All submissions will be acknowledged. The language of the convention is English.
Please note that paper and panel proposals need not be related to the overall conference theme.
Please submit all papers, panels, and proposals to the convention coordinator, Lori Erokan at <firstname.lastname@example.org >.
Extended submission deadline: February 28, 2017
Questions can be sent to the Convention Chair, Ed Tywoniak at <email@example.com>.
Guidelines for Submission
For manuscripts eligible for MEA award submissions:
- Manuscripts should be 4,000-6,000 words (approximately 15 to 25 double-spaced pages)
- Include a cover page (or e-submission page) with your academic or professional affiliation and other contact information.
- Include a 150 words abstract, with the title. Use APA, MLA or Chicago style.
- Papers should be written in English.
For Paper and Panel Proposals:
- Include title, 250 words abstract, and contact information with your proposal
- Outline, as relevant, how your paper or panel will fit with the convention theme
- Presenters should be prepared to deliver their papers in English.
- Authors with papers submitted as part of a panel proposal or as a paper proposal that wish to be considered for Top Paper or Top Student Paper must send completed paper to the convention planner by June 1, 2017.
Note that campus housing will be available at reasonable rates, along with a variety of off-campus lodging options. Specific information on housing, transportation, places of interest and other logistics will be available shortly on the convention website and the official MEA website.
For more on the Media Ecology Association, visit http://www.media-ecology.org
This year’s transmediale Marshall McLuhan Lecture will be delivered by Sarah Sharma, Director of the McLuhan Program in Culture & Technology at the University of Toronto, who has focused on the intersectional politics of time, class, gender, and race in her research. For the lecture, Sharma will speak under the title “Exit and the Extensions of Man”, which extends from her ongoing research on the male fantasy of exit as it manifests itself in a set of seemingly disparate sites: nationalist movements, robots designed to provide loving care, and the leftist refusal of work paradigm. While taking stock of this masculinist penchant for exit and paying particular attention to the «message» and extensions of our new machines, Sharma considers whether a door has opened for a feminist exit movement. In her talk, Sharma wonders who will pick up the pieces when the robots leave and there is nowhere left to go?
Free admission – Please present a valid photo-ID at the door and allow sufficient time for Embassy security. Doors open 18:00 / start 18:30
The transmediale Marshall McLuhan lecture is realized in cooperation with the Embassy of Canada to Germany and its Marshall McLuhan Salon, which holds one of the most significant collections of audio-visual material by and about the Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan, as well as a large number of his publications. (Source: https://goo.gl/j9lS7H )
“My research focuses on the relationship between technology and culture with a particular focus on social inequalities. One key strand of my research has focused on time as a site of social difference in a culture that is imagined to be technologically speeding up. I am currently at work on a new project that engages medium theory and feminist approaches to technology on such sites as algorithmic culture, the “sharing” economy, and the changing structures of care labour”.
Read more about Sarah Sharma here https://goo.gl/B48c1L .
transmediale Marshall McLuhan Salon exhibition
Ben Bogart: «Watching (Blade Runner)»
Following the transmediale Marshall McLuhan Lecture by Sarah Sharma, an installation by Vancouver based artist Ben Bogart opens in the Marshall McLuhan Salon of the Embassy of Canada. The work «Watching (Blade Runner)» (2016) is the latest installment of the series “Watching and Dreaming.” Initiated in 2014, this series of works are the result of statistically oriented machine learning and computer vision algorithms attempting to understand popular cinematic depictions of Artificial Intelligence by breaking apart and reconstructing them. The machines’ understanding is manifest in their ability to recognize, and eventually predict, the structure of the films they watch. The images produced are the result of both the system’s projection of imaginary structure, and the structure of the films themselves. What is watching? What are the mechanisms that allow recognize patterns and regularity in the noise and complexity of observable reality? How do we integrate the continuous flow of information into a cohesive world-view? These are among the questions at the centre of Ben Bogart’s artistic inquiry.
Opening: 31 January 2017, 20:00
1–5 February 2017, 14:00–18:00
transmediale Marshall McLuhan Lecture and transmediale Marshall McLuhan Salon Exhibition is a cooperation between transmediale — festival for art and digital culture berlin and the Embassy of Canada in Berlin.
Monday Night Seminar: Creative Data
LOCATION: McLuhan Centre for Culture & Technology, 39A Queens Park Crescent East off 121 St. Joseph St., Toronto, ON M5S 2C3 View Map
Monday Night Seminar, Monday, January 23rd, 6:00 PM
A Public Lecture followed by Discussion
With Richard Lachman, Transmedia Zone, Ryerson University
& Eric Miller, University of Toronto, Engineering Department
Moderator: Paolo Granata
REGISTER NOW at http://goo.gl/HLTziB
Click on images for closer view.
A multi-media exhibition – Oct 13-Dec 20, 2016
John M. Kelly Library, St. Michael’s College, 113 St. Joseph Street, Toronto
Explore the development of Marshall McLuhan’s theories in the context of his academic and personal life at the University of St. Michael’s College. McLuhan’s central role in the rise of the Toronto School of Communication is presented through artifacts, audio, texts, video and photographs selected from archival repositories across the University of Toronto and the Federated Colleges of St. Michael’s, Trinity and Victoria. The exhibition will feature items drawn from the Special Collections and holdings at St. Michael’s, including material from the Sheila and Wilfred Watson archives, Donald Theall papers and Marshall McLuhan collection. Rare and intimate examples on display include McLuhan’s correspondence and collaborations with friends and colleagues on campus such as Claude Bissell, Tom Easterbrook, Carl Williams, Harold Innis, Edmund Carpenter and Northrop Frye.
On a recent episode of Catholic Focus, Salt + Light Television featured the McLuhan on Campus: Local Inspirations, Global Visions exhibit in the John M. Kelly Library at St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto. Host Deacon Pedro Guevara Mann spoke with Kelly Library Archivist Simon Rogers as well as Michael McLuhan, son of St. Mike’s very own Marshall McLuhan, about both the exhibit and the man behind it.
Photographs of the McLuhan on Campus Exhibit by Yours Truly