Live Performance & The Medium is the Massage audio re-issue launch
Start: 27 May 2011, 20:00
Venue: Embassy of Canada
The opening reception for the Re-Touching McLuhan Centnennial Weekend features a record release party of McLuhan’s The Medium is the Massage audio re-issue, featuring a live performance and re-mix of the 1968 audio recording of the book by the experimental and electronic hip-hop musician, conceptual artist, and writer, Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky. This live performance will be recorded and broadcast on the 15th of July at 00.05 hours on the Klangkunst (Sound Art) programme on Deutschlandradio Kultur Klangskunst.
Many parallels can be found in McLuhan’s reflections on contemporary electronic media of his day with Paul Miller’s own take on the digital media art of today. Paul’s ideas on digital media art center around the ‘figure of the DJ as the generalized, post-subjective auteur of postmodern media. The idea of the mix is central to his work and his entire aesthetic, in which disparate connections are made between different times, cultures, and styles, through which something new can emerge’.
One can see from this why Paul was drawn to McLuhan’s work and found intellectual kinship in his ideas. Speaking about his work on the McLuhan recording:
‘Acoustic space, pattern recognition: boundless, infinite play of text and thought – that’s what you need to think about when you listen to this album. The record version of the “Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects” project was meant to embody some of the issues that the graphic design and radical use of new fonts and images to enhance the text of the book and create a dynamic linkage between how the collision of fonts and graphics would work and how they could be represented in sound. The whole thing is presented as an audio collage focused around McLuhan’s own voice reading parts of the book.
There are other “character” voices—’the old man’, ‘the Hippie chick’, ‘the Irishman’, ‘Mom’, ‘the little girl’, etc.—who utter McLuhanisms, snatches from Pop culture, and excerpts from Finnegans Wake and The Iliad. Weaving amongst these is a very 1960s selection of jazz, classical, and psychedelic pop music. This is all topped off with incursions from the recording engineer, backwards tape effects, sped-up and slowed-down voices, ambient recordings, and a whole jungle of other Foley and sound FX.
The record version of the “Medium is the Massage” presents that as a DJ mix – it presents the entire book as a series of samples, just like a mix-tape.
Think of this record as a collection of some of McLuhan’s spoken texts recorded, collaged, cut-up, spliced, diced, ripped, mixed, and burned. It’s a mix tape made in a different era – before the rise of digital media files, but it has the same kind of resonance of a mix of any current sound art project one could care to name.
It goes without saying that hands down, McLuhan was a master of the freestyle. Think of him in terms of hip hop, wordplay, and above all, how you can create new forms of viewing culture from the intertextual flow of words put at the service of technology.’’
- Paul D. Miller, ‘ Dead Simple: Marshall McLuhan and the Art of the Record’
You can listen to DJ Spooky’s track or download here.
DJ Spooky – Marshall McLuhan remix 2010 by mcluhan2011eu
Part 1 of Marshall McLuhan’s original, classic, innovative and prophetic 33″ vinyl production and audio version of the book can be heard here. The original recording was produced by John Simon and released on CBS Records in 1967.
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