[ISEA96] Poster: Andrea Wollensak & Michael LeBlanc – The McLuhan Probes

Poster Statement


The McLuhan Probes is a web site (www.mcluhan ca) presenting an ongoing sense of visually-organized and hyper-linked documents, made by students at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax, Canada and Connecticut College in New London, USA. The Herbert Marshall
McLuhan Foundation’s goal In supporting hus project is to introduce McLuhan ideologies
(through design projects and readings) to young designers. The authors invite the
internatronal art and design community to participate in the making of a bi-annual electronic
journal on McLuhan.

Keywords: McLuhan Marshall, Design Probes, Media Communication, NSCAD, Connecticut College


The visual world is one of matching, or fragmentation, and of classification. The new multi-sensuous world is one of making in which space is not a cavity to be filled but a possibility to be shaped MM, 1967, Environment as aProgrammed Happening The McLuhan Probes is a web site presenting an ongoing series of electronic, visuallyorganized and hyper-linked documents, made by senior visual communication students at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax and design students at Connecticut College in New London. The Herbert Marshall McLuhan Foundation’s goal in supporting this project is to introduce McLuhan ideologies (through design projects and readings) to young designers who may not yet know of McLuhan and his influence in media theory and to reactivate interest in McLuhan among the generation who remember him as a 1960s guru. In addition, it provides a service to the general public in making McLuhan more immediate and accessible, by focusing the content of the Probes on short the McLuhanesque ‘snippets’ which McLuhan himself called “probes.” The text of the Probes themselves is provided by the Herbert Marshall McLuhan Foundation, a nonprofit Canadian institution which holds the electronic rights to McLuhan’s work. This paper will address the theories and ideologies of Marshall McLuhan within an educational context reinterpreted by a young audience. The outline, design and pedagogical process for the Probes site will be described, with attention to technical elements of the project. In particular, it will discuss the difficulties associated with the Adobe Acrobat Page Description Format when it is placed in the context of HTML-based media; how important is ‘accessibility’ to the average Internet viewer, who may be interested in McLuhan but not have a computer capable of adequately displaying the Probes? Completed Probes (from current student work in progress) will be viewed online during the ISEA presentation. The selected Probes will illustrate interpretative image and hypertext works. The authors extend an invitation to ISEA participants (artists and designers) to submit probes for the 1996 McLuhan Probes project. All entries will be reviewed by the McLuhan Foundation in December. The results will be (funding pending) compiled onto a CD-ROM.

  • Michael LeBlanc, Canada, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax, Canada.
  • Andrea Wollensak, USA, Connecticut College, New London, USA

Full text p.105-107