Extreme fragmenting of activities and thinking, enormous social and cultural changes, excessive rituals of watching, have all been evoked by media and was foreseen by Marshal McLuhan, a philosopher and scholar of media theory and communications, in 1967. In The Medium is the Massage, McLuhan discusses the power of electric technology and how it is altering our environment and leaving no part of us untouched. Media completely surrounds us and touches all of our senses, immersing us into a community that is fed information instantly and continuously.
The Medium is the Massage, discusses how media fosters and encourages unification, participation, and involvement via television. Electric technology presents a means to vote, protest, revolt, and consume while sitting in our living room. Privacy has been eliminated when everyone becomes more involved with everybody else. There are no longer ‘others’ as they cannot be contained or ignored in this media rich culture. Even your thoughts have been altered and rearranged by electric technology. McLuhan’s analysis of how chaotic society has become and will continue to become, is a call for awareness of technological change. Society is affected by all aspects of media; written, aural, and visual, affecting the human sensorium causing a change in thoughts and actions in a media rich environment.
McLuhan discusses how the introduction of a variety of mediums has changed society; how we manage our time and how we work, from the development of the alphabet, to the introduction of mass production by the letter press, to radio, television, and design. Media rich cities will become like a World’s Fair where technology is put on a pedestal and shown off – not a place of business or residence. It will be preserved and created into living monuments where the technology elicits a simulacra of society. Much like the Epcott Center at Disney World where we are shown the progressions of human technological evolution by touring the amusing spectacles of the past to the eases of life presented by technological advancements of the future.
According to McLuhan, antisocial artists and poets have a strange ability to see this media induced environment for what it really is. (88) Artists today are encouraged to view society and represent it in a way that the audience has not considered. All information, cultural practices, rituals, life, etc., have facades. Hidden underneath is decay, light, darkness, anything that has long since being analyzed and deconstructed in a way that is unique, informational, enriching, or catastrophic. The artist has an uncanny ability to re-visualize through metaphors, symbolism, and sarcasm in order to articulate a subject that was there all along. The artist’s observation is formed into metaphorical or creative representations to emphasize avoided issues. McLuhan stated that the artist is rarely “well-adjusted” and cannot go along current trends. An artist definitely cannot fall into the rituals of modern society if she is to have a critical view. An artist must be able to theorize and analyze what is going on around her in order to present a deeper understanding of the obvious. If societal blemishes or embellishments are ignored by the artist, then she does ‘go along current trends’ in that she becomes absorbed by media and unconscious of her surroundings.
The artist must be able to see things at an angle. But in order to do that, an artist must first understand what is represented head on. McLuhan presents his angled message with graphical and typographic playfulness, sarcasm, and metaphors, eliciting a variety of emotions as if to affect the reader with a dazzling display of media on media. Perhaps since we are so engulfed in an electric environment, the designer, Quentin Fiore, needed to present information in a unique way to proclaim McLuhan’s angled message. Therefore, a distinct presentation could be the only way to get attention where attention is lacking. Yet, Fiore intentionally presents the message in a way that utilizes media’s strengths by its ability to alter our thoughts and actions by dazzling the viewer with images, shapes, and forms. Fiore’s design methods are an attempt to affect the reader like most media is already affecting us by overloading us with information. This angle presents a method to present a message with in a medium that is the culprit. Media offers the message in the most efficient way; by affecting the senses, encouraging and fostering unification, involvement, and the specialism of confronting and addressing media.