Professor Janine Marchessault, author of Marshall McLuhan: Cosmic Media (Sage Publications, 2005) and co-editor of Fluid Screens, Expanded Cinema (University of Toronto Press, 2007) is Research Chair in Art, Digital Media, and Globalization, York University, Canada. Janine Marchessault is the director of the Visible City Project + Archive which is examining new practices of media in a variety of urban contexts. She is also a co-investigator on the Future Cinema Lab, a joint research project with Film Professors John Greyson and Caitlin Fisher, based in the Faculty of Fine Arts at York University. Funded by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, the Future Cinema Lab is a state-of-the-art digital media research facility devoted to ‘new stories for new screens.’ As Canada Research Chair in Art, Digital Media and Globalization, Dr. Marchessault is investigating how the information society is redefining the artist’s role and shaping urban contexts. Inherent in her work is the development of new research methods that use advanced media technologies to interpret the cultural ecologies of cities, with the ultimate goal of proposing new planning and policy strategies.
RETOUCHING McLUHAN – THE MEDIUM IS THE MASSAGE Conference Lecture Abstract
Topic: McLuhan’s Fair: Expo ‘67 as Counterblast
“Bless / Expo 67 / for its manifestation / of Gallic levity and / its reversal of the / second law of / thermodynamics / by hotting up the / southern neighbor / by the Canadian / COLD FRONT:”
- Marshall McLuhan, COUNTERBLAST, 1969: 57
Expo ’67 held in Montreal to celebrate Canada’s centenary, represents one of the most important artistic experiments of the twentieth century. The fair showcased numerous tele-communications and audio-visual technologies, and was distinguished by its audacious media experiments. McLuhan’s aphorisms were literally woven into the very fabric of the Exhibition. Many have commented that the Exposition did not change the way films were made but the way they were seen. New forms of spectatorship combined with newly imagined theatres and screens, served to align media culture with architecture. This talk will focus on how Expo 67 dubbed “McLuhan’s fair” can be read as a utopian media city―a total environment. It examines Expo ‘67 in terms of a new international approach to architecture and urban planning that was both influenced by and influencing new forms of media production. Of course Expo itself, like all World Expositions, was driven by the economic and political interests of globalization. Yet perhaps one of the reasons that the utopian energies of ‘mondialisation’ were so strong was that this event coincided with the emergence of a global ecology informed by the technological humanism expressed in the thinking of R. Buckminster Fuller and McLuhan.