terça-feira, junho 17, 2008


Frank Stella, Pagosa Springs, 1960, Copper metallic e lápis sobre tela, 252.3 X 252.1 cm., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.

Foi assim, assumindo o simulacro que não conduz a McLuhan (1911-1980), que utilizámos o famoso "meme" The medium is the message (Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, 1964), em cruzamento com a literalidade desejada por Frank Stella (1936) para a sua pintura. Mas de que falava McLuhan quando falava de "message" e de "medium" e equivalia os dois termos?

McLuhan tells us that a "message" is, "the change of scale or pace or pattern" that a new invention or innovation "introduces into human affairs." (McLuhan 8) Note that it is not the content or use of the innovation, but the change in inter-personal dynamics that the innovation brings with it. Thus, the message of theatrical production is not the musical or the play being produced, but perhaps the change in tourism that the production may encourage.
McLuhan defines medium for us as well. Right at the beginning of Understanding Media, he tells us that a medium is "any extension of ourselves." Classically, he suggests that a hammer extends our arm and that the wheel extends our legs and feet. Each enables us to do more than our bodies could do on their own. Similarly, the medium of language extends our thoughts from within our mind out to others.
But McLuhan always thought of a medium in the sense of a growing medium, like the fertile potting soil into which a seed is planted, or the agar in a Petri dish. In other words, a medium - this extension of our body or senses or mind - is anything from which a change emerges. And since some sort of change emerges from everything we conceive or create, all of our inventions, innovations, ideas and ideals are McLuhan media.
Thus we have the meaning of "the medium is the message:" We can know the nature and characteristics of anything we conceive or create (medium) by virtue of the changes - often unnoticed and non-obvious changes - that they effect (message.) McLuhan warns us that we are often distracted by the content of a medium (which, in almost all cases, is another distinct medium in itself.) He writes, "it is only too typical that the "content" of any medium blinds us to the character of the medium." (McLuhan 9) And it is the character of the medium that is its potency or effect - its message. In other words, "This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium - that is, of any extension of ourselves - result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology."
(Mark Federman, What is the Meaning of The Medium is the Message?)

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