We Are All Crew Reader (Introduction)

Introduction to the fourth Blowup Reader We Are All Crew, 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.

About V2_:

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.

About Blowup:

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.

Michelle Kasprzak

Cu­ra­tor, V2_ In­sti­tute for the Un­sta­ble Me­dia

Project Di­rec­tor, McLuhan in Eu­rope 2011

Rot­ter­dam, 03/11/2011

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