by Lauren Festa
Marshall McLuhan, Canadian-born professor and philosopher, notably popular for coining the expression the medium is the message and for predicting the World Wide Web almost thirty years before it was invented, is the subject of Daniel Savage’s new short animated film commissioned by Al Jazeera. Running a little over 2 minutes, the film brings the viewer back to the 1960’s–long before iPhones could be thought of as currency for health care–exploring the ways in which we consume information. From books to radio to television and the internet, Daniel’s animations lend a stark black and white backdrop to McLuhan’s powerful words, narrated by Alex Chow. The media has the power to transform human nature and furthermore, no matter how powerful or persuasive the message, it’s the media that has changed our thought patterns and behavior. What does this mean for the “electronic environment” we inhabit? How do we decipher what media is fact and which is fiction? Discerning the difference is crucial now, more than ever.
“A producer at Al Jazeera had seen my last film Look-See and invited me to work on a series they were producing about various philosophers” says Savage. “I pitched the idea of combining drawings with abstract halftone patterns. The patterns were to represent content while the medium could be more obvious. The message is important and I think the timing couldn’t be better. Hopefully it inspires people think about our medium and how it shapes us.”
If you don’t understand the medium, you don’t understand the message.
Narrated by Alex Chow, a social activist in Hong Kong and prominent figure in the Umbrella Movement.
Directed and animated by Daniel Savage
Produced by The Listening Post
Music by Flako
McLuhan recordings courtesy of marshallmcluhanspeaks.com