While channel-surfing my 100+ satellite TV, I stumbled across Much Music which was featuring the latest hiphop videos of near-naked females gyrating to pulsing electronic beat. This reminded me of Marshall McLuhan’s amazing predictions about impacts of the “global village”, which he made over 50 years ago…
According to Wikipedia : “Global Village” is a term closely associated with Marshall McLuhan, popularized in his books The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man (1962) and Understanding Media (1964). McLuhan described how the globe has been contracted into a village by electric technology and the instantaneous movement of information from every quarter to every point at the same time. In bringing all social and political functions together in a sudden implosion, electric speed heightened human awareness of responsibility to an intense degree.
Marshall McLuhan predicted the Internet as an “extension of consciousness” in The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man thirty years before its commercialization.
So what? Why does this matter, and how is it related to art in public places?
Well, McLuhan predicted that the modern electric-age of internet would connect everyone so that only the best of the best (super experts) would count, leaving the rest of us disempowered and undervalued. Feelings of disconnection and angst would result, leading to addictive and self-deprecating violent behaviours among the vast majority of non-experts in the global village.
Art can help to fight the depersonalizing forces of the global village, by creating more self-awareness (for art-viewers) and self-worth (for art-makers). By breaking the hypnotizing spell of the internet and other TV-based media, art can raise consciousness and reduce feelings of alienation in this increasingly violent and hyper-sexed world.
So, turn off the TV and internet, go for a nice walk in your neighbourhood to explore some art and sculpture near you. Better still, pick up a pencil and draw something — it doesn’t have to be world-class — it’s simply a consciousness-raising exercise about seeing and feeling connected. McLuhan would approve 🙂