Posted on April 4th, 2023

Faculty News

Alex Kitnick speaks at the Institute for Contemporary Art

Friday, Apr 14, 6:00 PM–8:00 PM

If the title of artist Rafael Domenech’s experimental publishing pavilion on the ICA’s third floor, The Medium is the Massage, seems familiar, that’s because it’s borrowed from a highly influential 1967 book by trailblazing media theorist Marshall McLuhan.

For anyone curious about the theoretical ghost behind the artwork, on Friday, April 14, at 6 pm, ICA Director of Community Media Chioke l’Anson and art historian Alex Kitnick will come together to draw McLuhan’s vital thinking out into fuller and brighter view.

In an evening of conversation, Chioke and Alex will guide us into McLuhan’s field-defining world of ideas, discussing, for instance, his famous notion that “the medium is the message,” and explaining how that “message” turned into a “massage.” Situating his arguments within the broader context of communication theory, they’ll show us how McLuhan’s writings can be used to understand the modern media landscape. Along the way, they’ll elaborate on McLuhan’s specific and unusual critical voice, one developed to try to account for changing modes of looking and reading, and one that argued that artists can play a part in the shaping of the world to come—and expand on why these notions still urgently matter today.

Location: True Farr Luck Gallery, third floor.

About the Speakers:

Chioke I’Anson is Director of Community Media at the VPM+ICA Community Media Center. He is formerly Assistant Professor of African American Studies at VCU and currently a voice of underwriting at NPR. Chioke has a PhD in philosophy from the University of South Florida and has been heard on podcasts such as Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Everything is AliveLove + Radio, and The 11th.

Alex Kitnick teaches art history and criticism at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, and is a frequent contributor to publications including 4ColumnsArtforum, and October. His book Distant Early Warning: Marshall McLuhan and the Transformation of the Avant-Garde was published by University of Chicago Press in 2021.