Graham Larkin is Curator of International Art at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, down the street from the McLuhan fonds at the national archives. While attending Harvard University he organized a conference on the materiality of print in early modern Europe, translated a book on garden designer André Le Nôtre, assisted information designer Edward R. Tufte with his book Beautiful Evidence, and completed a doctoral dissertation on the origins of the catalogue raisonné in early print albums. As a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University he battled for academic freedom and taught classes in the histories of collecting, print and landscape representation. in Ottawa he has reinstalled the national collection of European and American Art, expanded his department to include art of the 20th century, and greatly enhanced the commitment to provenance research. His exhibition on pop art pioneer Richard Hamilton runs from 27 May through 28 August at The Rooms in St. John’s, Newfoundland. His next project surveys the Canadian reception of postwar American art during the 1960s.
29 May 2011: RETOUCHING McLUHAN - THE MEDIUM IS THE MASSAGE Conference Lecture Abstract
Topic: McLuhan As Media Practitioner
In a 1959 talk and a 1964 book McLuhan famously declares that “the medium is the message.” By 1967 the title of a typographically adventuresome book turns “message” into “massage." In each case McLuhan is urging his audience to care less about the apparent content of communication (what happens to be “on” TV or “in” a book) and more about the psychodynamics of the particular medium (the effects of television or the book per se). Ironically, later interpreters have viewed the medium=message/massage tenet as central to McLuhan’s thinking, yet have given remarkably short shrift to the ways in which his own messages are embedded in particular media. A truly McLuhanite approach to McLuhan would attend to his mastery of many forms of inscription, publication and broadcast, and would show how this media practice both constitutes and exemplifies his media theory.