Marshall McLuhan

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Physical and Psychic extension of the Person

Marshall McLuhan was the visionary theorist best known for coining the phrase “the medium is the message.” His work prefigures and underlies the themes of writers and artists as disparate and essential as Andy Warhol, Nam June Paik, Neil Postman, Seth Godin, Barbara Kruger, and Douglas Rushkoff, among countless others.

"A technology is not an independent or alien object, it complements integrally our sensory and cognitive system; as a medium, it conditions not only communication modes but also the way we perceive and conceive our environment. When these ratios change People change."
Electric Age Effects on Societal Behavior

McLuhan uses the four laws of media, framed as appositional questions, to understand the actions and effects that technologies and artefacts exert on the human mind. McLuhan frames the questions of enhancement, obsolescence, retrieval, and reversal in a tetradic schema to observe the effects of various technologies on the psyche.

We found that everything mankind makes and does, every procedure, every style, every artefact, every poem, song, painting, gimmick, gadget, theory, technology – every product of human effort – manifested the same four dimensions.

Complex ideas made accessible.

The Medium is the Massage is first book coordinated by a “producer,” Jerome Agel, who takes credit for orchestrating the sound and music. But most important was the close conceptual relationship between the designer and writer—like El Lissitzky and Mayakovsky, Heartfield and Tucholsky, Guylas Williams and Robert Benchley. Though Fiore and McLuhan were not in constant contact with each other during this period, Fiore was in sync with McLuhan’s thinking, so much so that the visual or concrete presentation of McLuhan’s sometimes complex ideas was made totally accessible.

“Our laws of media are intended to provide a ready means of identifying the properties of and actions exerted upon ourselves by our technologies and media and artefacts”

The portability of the book, like that of the easel painting, added much to the new cult of individualism.

The importance of Marshall McLuhan and his communication theories cannot be overstated, but his written works—dense, at times even daunting— are more often cited than read. Nonetheless, his predictions have been borne out: in the early 1960s, McLuhan wrote that visual, individualistic print culture would be replaced by what he called "electronic interdependence," creating a new "global village" characterized by a collective identity with a tribal base.