Marshall McLuhan (Edmonton, Canada, 1911-Toronto, 1980)
Controversial media theorist Marshall McLuhan studied engineering before turning to modern literature, which he was to teach in the late 1930s and 1940s. His first book, The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man, published in 1951, examines the impact of advertising on culture and society. With the anthropologist Edmund Carpenter, he founded the review Explorations dealing with language and the media, and in 1963 he set up the Center for Culture and Technology on the campus of the University of Toronto. The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man (1962) traces the transition from the visual age of writing and typography to the age of electricity, characterized by simultaneity and oral forms of expression. Two years later, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man brought him international recognition. The basic argument of this wide-ranging work is that the essential fact of communications is communications itself: the medium is the message. The media used by a society determine human behaviors within that society. For McLuhan, the media are all extensions of human beings--books, cars, clothing, and any transformation in the communications process thus entails an upheaval in human nature and perception. Such arguments had a great deal of impact, among both media specialists and the general public, but they were also sharply criticized as over-simplifications. In 1973 the Vatican named McLuhan its counselor for social communications.
Bibliography: The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man (New York: Vanguard Press, 1951). The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1962). Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964). The Medium Is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects, with Quentin Fiore and Jerome Agel (New York: Bantam, 1967). Counter Blast (New York: Harcourt, Brace, & World, 1969). Culture Is Our Business (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1970). Take Today: The Executive As Dropout, with Barrington Nevitt (New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1972). Laws of Media: The New Science, with Eric McLuhan (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1988). The Global Village, with Bruce R. Powers (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989).
CD-ROM: Understanding McLuhan, 1988.

Minimal Art
Minimal Art emerged in the United States toward the middle of the 1960s. The term was first used by Richard Wollheim in a 1965 article in Arts Magazine about the works of Marcel Duchamp, Ad Reinhardt, and Pop Art. The same year, Donald Judd published the essay "Specific Objects", where he proposed to call these new productions by that name. The core Minimalists include Carl Andre, Judd, Dan Flavin, Sol LeWitt, and Robert Morris, but such a grouping reflects a common sensibility rather than a common style. These artists worked with geometric figures, variations on determined structures, and problems of volume. By drawing on easily understandable forms, Minimalism reduced the aesthetic processes of producing and receiving the works. The Minimalists were seeking above all to avoid all kinds of formal illusionism and subjectivity. They thus focused on the repetition of the form, seriality, and combinations of elementary components. Sol LeWitt's work, for example, is a variation on the figure of the square, that of Dan Flavin, of neon, and that of Robert Morris, unitary elements, while Carl Andre considers his works as a place and space of transit. The work is only one of the elements in the relationship among the viewer, the space, and the object. The work of art should be neither monumental nor simply decorative, and this requires a human scale, which does not include materials calling for an essentially physical relationship with the senses. Minimalism lies between painting, sculpture, and architecture.
Bibliography: Gregory Battcock (ed.), Minimal Art (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1968).

Electroacoustic Music
In the broad sense of the term, electroacoustic covers all the applications of electricity or electronics to acoustic sound. Electroacoustic music requires a loudspeaker in order to connect electronics and hearing, and more than any precise style, it is defined by the means employed for its production. It is generally divided into two main currents, concrete and electronic, although their divergences diminished during the second half of the 1960s. Concrete music emerged around 1948 in the context of radio art. Pierre Schaeffer, who was both an engineer and a musician, became interested in the expressive power of recorded sounds. He accumulated a number of these sound fragments in the form of studies of nonidentifiable sounds and noises. Composition thus bore on concrete sound objects, but it might also use recordings of musical instruments and fragments of existing musical works. The magnetic tapes were reworked through editing, which allowed the sounds to be modified and combined. A key figure in concrete music, along with Pierre Schaeffer, is Pierre Henri (Variations pour une porte et un soupir [Variations for a door and a sigh], 1963, an homage to the art of Arman). Electronic music was born in 1950, through the efforts of Herbert Eimertin the studios of the Nordwestdeutscher Rundfunk in Cologne. Produced by electronic frequency generators, electronic music is formed by a combination of synthetic sounds based on waves. The initial rationalism of this approach was to evolve with the introduction of a certain margin of indetermination in the composition. The most important of the electronic music composers is Karlheinz Stockhausen (Mikrophonie II). Electroacoustic music is both an art and a science. The three main instruments used are the studio, the synthesizer, and the computer. "In the studio, experience overrides theory. The musicians move away from the notion of interpretation transmitted by instrumental tradition and come closer to a more sculptural notion of concrete music by working on the sound matter itself" (André-Pierre Boeswillwald, "Musique contemporaine, les musiques électro-acoustiques," Encyclopédie Universalis, Paris, 1995).
Bibliography: Robert L. Wick, Electronic and Computer Music: An Annotated Bibliography (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1997).