We Are All Crew Reader (Introduction)
Introduction to the fourth Blowup Reader We Are All Crew, by Michelle Kasprzak.
BY MICHELLE KASPRZAK
This e-Book, the fourth in the series of Blowup Readers released by V2_, explores the intellectual legacy of Canadian communications and media guru Marshall McLuhan, in the Centenary of his birth. This e-Book was released alongside a three day celebration that included an art exhibition, film screening, and keynote lecture.
V2_, Institute for the Unstable Media, founded in 1981, is an interdisciplinary center for art and media technology in Rotterdam (the Netherlands). V2_ conducts research at the interface of art, technology and society. V2_ presents, produces, archives and publishes about art made with new technologies and encourages the debate on these issues. V2_ offers a platform where artists, scientists, developers of software and hardware, researchers and theorists from various disciplines can share their findings. Art and culture play an essential role in the social embedding of and attitude towards technological developments, and V2_ creates a context in which technological issues are explored through critical reflection and practice-oriented research.
Blowup, launched in 2011, is a series of events and exhibitions that explore contemporary questions from multiple viewpoints. Blowup zooms in on ideas, bringing into focus clear pictures of how art, design, philosophy, and technology are transforming our lives -- or reinforcing the status quo.
Each Blowup event will provide a deeper understanding of a theme relevant to this moment in time. Some events will ask you to be hands-on, and some will involve just listening or looking. No two events will be the same: Blowup events mix artists and theoreticians; mix formats; challenge assumptions; and take risks. Investigating topics ranging from art for animals to speculative designs for future objects, each Blowup will surprise and inform.
Alongside each event, a Blowup Reader exploring the theme with texts from a wide range of sources will be released in e-Book format. Blowup is curated by Michelle Kasprzak.
Blowup: We Are All Crew
To acknowledge the 100th anniversary of Marshall McLuhan’s birth, this edition of Blowup will present the Strategic Art Initiative 2.0 exhibition of re-created early telematic artworks; the worldwide premiere of Them F*ckin’ Robots, a documentary on the work and influence of electronic art pioneer Norman White; a keynote lecture by Dutch thinker and author Arjen Mulder, examining the things we love and love to hate about McLuhan; and a closing party for the exhibition featuring a custom cocktail by Alex Falk.
The events occurred on November 3 - 5, 2011 and were streamed live. Archived footage of the event will be made available at http://www.v2.nl
Artists in the Strategic Arts Initiative 2.0 exhibition:
Doug Back, Laura Kikauka & Carl Hamfelt, David Rokeby, Graham Smith, Norman T. White, Derrick de Kerckhove
Directors of Them F*ckin’ Robots:
Ine Poppe, Sam Nemeth
Arjen Mulder, Derrick de Kerckhove
Notes from the Curator:
“There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We are all crew.”
— Marshall McLuhan
This e-Book is comprised of numerous pieces of archival text and newly commissioned texts which reflect the nature of our Blowup event which was held November 3-5, including contributions from Wired Magazine (which famously proclaimed Marshall McLuhan to be its “patron saint”), the V2_ archive, and many other sources.
The first section of this e-Book deals with the Strategic Arts Initiative 2.0 exhibition, an ambitious re-creation of the original telematic art exhibition that linked Toronto to France and Italy twenty-five years previous. We have an introduction from Laura Berazadi, the new Executive Director at our exhibition partner Interaccess in Toronto; the programme notes of the original Strategic Arts Initiative exhibition; and a new text by Derrick de Kerckhove reflecting on the exhibition then and now. Thanks to both Laura and Derrick for their insights in these texts.
At this point I should also mention two very special partners in this celebration of McLuhan. McLuhan in Europe 2011, supporter of this Blowup event, is a project which was initiated by Stephen Kovats, former Artistic Director of the transmediale festival in Berlin (and before that, a Curator at V2_!). Stephen approached me to work alongside him to deliver an ambitious cultural network that would cultivate and celebrate McLuhan-related events across Europe in this year marking the 100th anniversary of McLuhan’s birth. We exploited the significant momentum and interest that was already there, and developed projects of our own, resulting in producing and highlighting over 40 events in dozens of cities across Europe this year. We had a major series of McLuhan events in Berlin with the Canadian Embassy, transmediale, and other partners earlier this year, and it is immensely rewarding for me to bring this project to my home base as the Centenary nears its close, and present this homage to McLuhan at V2_. Stephen has provided a text explaining a bit about the particular context that McLuhan has in Europe and the McLuhan in Europe project.
As well at this point I’d like to acknowledge the role that the McLuhan 100 has played, especially as a supporter of the Strategic Arts Initiative 2.0 exhibition. Sincere thanks to Dominique Scheffel-Dunand and her collaborators for tirelessly working to produce and promote Canadian events for the Centenary and supporting us working in Europe on Centenary-related activities as well.
The other texts in this e-Book relate to other parts of this dynamic Blowup programme, including an English translation of a text by writer and film director Ine Poppe on Norman White, who is the subject Poppe’s documentary Them F*ckin’ Robots. Also we have a very relevant excerpt from Arjen Mulder’s book, From Image to Interaction, which not only references McLuhan, but has relevance when looking at the telematic artworks in the Strategic Arts Initiative 2.0 exhibition as well.
Last but definitely not least, I am delighted to include in this reader a text from the V2_ archive by Mark Dery, which mentions McLuhan as well, and through the exposition of the relationship between man and machine, provides a new lens for considering the art that V2_ promotes and produces in collaboration with artists. Marshall McLuhan is also represented well by two texts, originally published in Wired Magazine and written by Gary Wolf.
Please enjoy and spread the word about this reader and the archived footage of the public presentations that were part of this programme, at www.v2.nl. The next Blowup event will be a special edition produced jointly with V2_’s renowned Test_Lab programme. On December 1, Test_Lab will present Who Wants To Be?, a raucous game show wherein visitors to V2_ will collectively decide how to spend a pool of their own money; and on the following evening, December 2, Blowup will present Show Me The Money, a discussion of the results of the previous night’s game show, as well as tackling what we might mean by the “cultural economy”. It promises to be two action packed and intellectually stimulating evenings here at V2_, and we look forward to welcoming you in December.
Curator, V2_ Institute for the Unstable Media
Project Director, McLuhan in Europe 2011