While puffing on a cigar, communications guru Marshall McLuhan – once dubbed the Sage of Aquarius – holds court in April 1973 during one of his famous evening seminars at the Centre for Culture and Technology. The centre (of which he was director) was located in an architectural throwback: a coach house built in 1903. But McLuhan’s theories were forward-thinking and prophetic: he recognized that the world had become a global village in its electronic interdependence and divined the advent of the World Wide Web in The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962). And in Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (1964), he first posited that “the medium is the message,” pointing out that the medium’s structure – how it relays information, as opposed to the information itself – is what shapes society and our perceptions of reality.
Few academics have infiltrated the collective psyche, intellectual realm and pop culture like McLuhan, who worked at U of T for more than 30 years. To celebrate the centenary of his birth (he was born July 21, 1911), the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology, the City of Toronto and Mozilla have arranged a year-long series of events. In October, Nuit Blanche will contain a McLuhan component, and, in November, the university will host the international conference “McLuhan 100: Then, Now, Next” to discuss the professor’s work and influence. The events leave no excuse for anyone to be on the receiving end of the famous McLuhan line in Annie Hall – when he dismisses a phoney intellectual with an exceedingly curt “You know nothing of my work.”
Visit www.mcluhan100.ca for event details.
A U of T lab is working with actors, writers and directors on how they could harness AI and other emerging technologies to generate new ideas and – just maybe – reinvent theatre