Table of Con­tents | http://​dx​.doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​7​7​4​2​/​I​M​A​G​E​.​M​A​.​8​.​3.3 | PDF


Abstract | Mansaram is an Indo-Cana­di­an artist who immi­grat­ed to Cana­da in 1966 with a pri­or inter­est in the media ideas of Mar­shall McLuhan, sparked by read­ing about him in LIFE Mag­a­zine. In Toron­to the media guru soon intro­duced him to Av Isaacs at his Yonge Street gallery, which led to a 1967 Hap­pen­ing there called East-West Inter­sect, influ­enced by McLuhan’s ideas. Between 1966 and 1972 Mansaram worked on his Rear View Mir­ror series of paint­ings and col­lages, to one of which McLuhan con­tributed sev­er­al items of tex­tu­al con­tent. Col­lage with its mosa­ic struc­tures appealed to McLuhan because he thought it bet­ter rep­re­sent­ed the post-lit­er­ate “alla­tonce­ness” of elec­tron­ic media and acoustic space, which bet­ter inte­grat­ed the full human sen­so­ri­um and called for pat­tern recog­ni­tion for com­pre­hen­sion. McLuhan had a high regard for artists for their inte­gral aware­ness and sen­si­tiv­i­ty to changes in sense per­cep­tion, enabling them to act as a dis­tant ear­ly warn­ing (DEW) line against poten­tial­ly harm­ful effects of tech­nol­o­gy. He viewed their art as anti-envi­ron­ments to the elec­tron­ic media mael­strom. Mansaram has enjoyed increas­ing recog­ni­tion through recent exhi­bi­tions, but some of Canada’s pre­mier art gal­leries have yet to acquire or rec­og­nize his art, although the Roy­al Ontario Muse­um is plan­ning to do so.

Résumé | Mansaram est un artiste indo-cana­di­en qui a immi­gré au Cana­da en 1966 pos­sé­dant un intérêt antérieur pour les idées médi­a­tiques de Mar­shall McLuhan, sus­cité par la lec­ture d’articles à son sujet dans LIFE Mag­a­zine. À Toron­to, le gourou des médias l'a rapi­de­ment présen­té à Av Isaacs à sa galerie de Yonge Street, ce qui a mené à un « hap­pen­ing » en 1967 appelé East-West Inter­sect influ­encé par les idées de McLuhan. Entre 1966 et 1972, Mansaram a tra­vail­lé sur sa série de pein­tures et de col­lages Rear View Mir­ror, dont une à laque­lle McLuhan a apporté plusieurs élé­ments textuels. Le col­lage, avec ses struc­tures en mosaïque, plai­sait à McLuhan parce qu'il trou­vait qu'il représen­tait mieux la « con­cor­dance » postlit­téraire des médias élec­tron­iques et de l'espace acous­tique, qui inté­grait mieux l’ensemble du sen­so­ri­um humain et appelait à la recon­nais­sance des formes pour la com­préhen­sion. McLuhan avait un grand respect pour les artistes en rai­son de leur con­science inté­grale et leur sen­si­bil­ité aux change­ments dans la per­cep­tion des sens, leur per­me­t­tant d'agir en tant que réseau d’alerte avancé (DEW, pour « Dis­tant Ear­ly Warn­ing ») con­tre les effets poten­tielle­ment néfastes de la tech­nolo­gie. Il con­sid­érait leur art comme des antien­vi­ron­nements au tour­bil­lon des médias élec­tron­iques. Mansaram est de plus en plus recon­nu à tra­vers les expo­si­tions récentes, mais cer­taines des plus grandes galeries d'art du Cana­da n'ont pas encore acquis ou recon­nu son art, bien que le Musée roy­al de l'Ontario ait l'intention de le faire.


Alexan­der Kuskis | Gon­za­ga Uni­ver­si­ty

Mansaram and Marshall McLuhan: Collaboration in Collage Art

 The West shall shake the East awake … while ye have the night for morn …
—James Joyce, Finnegans Wake

Mar­shall McLuhan’s cor­pus of pub­lished work includes many col­lab­o­ra­tions with asso­ciates, includ­ing Quentin Fiore, Harley Park­er, Wil­fred Wat­son, Bar­ring­ton Nevitt, Kathryn Hutchon, Bruce Pow­ers, McLuhan’s son Eric, and oth­ers. He pub­lished more col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly writ­ten books than self-writ­ten ones. Anal­o­gous to his favourite method of dis­cov­ery, which he called prob­ing, col­lab­o­ra­tion offered McLuhan a means or method of dia­log­i­cal per­cep­tion that is “dis­con­tin­u­ous, non­lin­ear; it tack­les things from many angles at once” (McLuhan and Car­son 403). This essay describes a dif­fer­ent kind of artis­tic col­lab­o­ra­tion for McLuhan, one that demon­strates his eager­ness to under­stand and exper­i­ment with unfa­mil­iar and new media: his col­lage art with Indo-Cana­di­an artist Pan­chal Mansaram. This essay describes the col­lab­o­ra­tion and its artis­tic out­come, Rear View Mir­ror 74 (RMV 74), con­sid­er­ing what attract­ed McLuhan to the work as well as his more gen­er­al views on art and artists.

Accord­ing to Mansaram in a per­son­al inter­view by the author of this essay, McLuhan act­ed with “innate kind­ness and gen­eros­i­ty” in help­ing him get start­ed in Cana­da as a new­ly land­ed Indi­an artist.  McLuhan was like­ly attract­ed to work­ing on one of Mansaram’s Rear View Mir­ror col­lages for a cou­ple of rea­sons. First, from his read­ing of mod­ernist writ­ers such as Charles Baude­laire, James Joyce, and T.S. Eliot—whose works in some ways antic­i­pate sub­se­quent East-West artis­tic inter­ac­tions and exchanges includ­ing The Bea­t­les’ pil­grim­age to India and Ravi Shankar’s pop­u­lar­i­ty in the West—McLuhan was keen­ly inter­est­ed in the pro­posed theme of the inter­sec­tion of East­ern and West­ern cul­tures. These per­ceived cul­tur­al inter­ac­tions were a sub­set of McLuhan’s “glob­al vil­lage” metaphor: the peo­ple of India and the West com­ing to know each oth­er through media and mutu­al vis­i­ta­tions. Sec­ond, col­lage art appealed to McLuhan because he asso­ci­at­ed it with the ancient mosa­ic form, which inte­grat­ed the whole human sen­so­ri­um of vision, hear­ing, taste, smell, and even touch, and could bet­ter reflect the simul­tane­ity of post-lit­er­ate elec­tron­ic tech­nol­o­gy, the out­put of which would require pat­tern recog­ni­tion to appre­hend.

Pan­chal Mansaram, known pro­fes­sion­al­ly as P. Mansaram or some­times just Mansaram, immi­grat­ed to Cana­da from India with his wife and daugh­ter in 1966. He had a spe­cial inter­est in the work of Mar­shall McLuhan, ini­tial­ly inspired by read­ing an arti­cle about him in LIFE mag­a­zine. The Feb­ru­ary 25, 1966 issue of LIFE had pub­lished an arti­cle titled “Ora­cle of the Elec­tric Age,” which men­tioned that artists, musi­cians, crit­ics, and the­atre peo­ple, par­tic­u­lar­ly those in the avant-garde, found McLuhan’s media the­o­ries to be artis­ti­cal­ly rel­e­vant and excit­ing, so much so that there had been a Mar­shall McLuhan-themed Fes­ti­val of the Con­tem­po­rary Arts at the Uni­ver­si­ty of British Colum­bia the pre­vi­ous year (Howard 91). Intrigued and excit­ed by McLuhan’s ideas on tech­nol­o­gy and cul­ture, Mansaram wrote the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to Eng­lish pro­fes­sor to con­vey his admi­ra­tion for his work.

In 1966, Mansaram immi­grat­ed to Cana­da with his wife Taruni­ka and their three-month-old daugh­ter Mila. Arriv­ing in Mon­tre­al, they ini­tial­ly explored the city and its Expo 67 World’s Fair site, then under con­struc­tion, before set­tling in Toronto—initially liv­ing at the Wal­dorf Asto­ria Hotel on Charles Street. He soon con­tact­ed Mar­shall McLuhan, who invit­ed him to meet him at his office at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to, where he was about to be inter­viewed for French Tele­vi­sion. After wit­ness­ing the tap­ing of this inter­view, Mansaram went with McLuhan and a writer friend to The Isaacs Gallery at 832 Yonge Street, where he was intro­duced to its own­er, the now leg­endary and recent­ly deceased Av Isaacs. This intro­duc­tion led to a Hap­pen­ing in 1967 at the Isaacs Gallery titled East-West Inter­sect, pro­duced by Mansaram and influ­enced by McLuhan.

Early Life in India[1]

Mansaram was born in Mount Abu, a hill­side town in Rajasthan, India, where the Mahara­jas owned sum­mer palaces (McGov­ern, “Col­lab­o­ra­tive Col­lage Paint­ing”). His father encour­aged him to study engi­neer­ing for its greater employ­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties, but after spend­ing four years in a sci­ence col­lege, he enrolled instead in the Sir Jam­set­jee Jee­jeb­hoy School of Art (often short­ened as Sir J.J.) in Bom­bay (now Mum­bai), from 1954 to 1959.

His artis­tic tal­ents enabled him to secure free tuition, includ­ing free res­i­den­cy in a school hos­tel and even­tu­al­ly a gold medal and fel­low­ship to teach at the Art School. He also met his future wife Taruni­ka, who is also an artist, at the School. In 1959, he won the high­est cash prize at the Bom­bay State Art Exhi­bi­tion, in com­pe­ti­tion with numer­ous pro­fes­sion­al artists. In Bom­bay, Mansaram took full advan­tage of the cul­tur­al life of this cos­mopoli­tan Indi­an city, befriend­ing art crit­ics, the edi­tors of sev­er­al mag­a­zines, and attend­ing lec­tures by the world-famous philoso­pher, Jid­du Krish­na­mur­ti, who lec­tured at the Art School com­pound. After art school, he moved to Cal­cut­ta for his first job, where he met Satya­jit Ray, the world-famous film­mak­er. Watch­ing Ben­gali films cre­at­ed an ambi­tion in Mansaram to become a film­mak­er him­self.

He won a Dutch gov­ern­ment schol­ar­ship at the State Acad­e­my of Fine Arts in Ams­ter­dam dur­ing 1963-64, where he start­ed to exper­i­ment with col­lage art. In 1964, Mansaram dis­cov­ered inscrip­tions on a rock sur­face while vis­it­ing Greece, which inspired him to intro­duce writ­ing into his col­lages. His own col­lage style lat­er includ­ed pages of print­ed text, hand­writ­ten man­u­script pages and notes, and even hand-drawn scrib­bles jux­ta­posed with can­vas fig­ures and images.

Back in Del­hi, he met the Eng­lish art-crit­ic George Butch­er, who had come to India to research his PhD the­sis on Mod­ern Indi­an and Folk Art; he lat­er moved to Mon­tre­al. It was George Butch­er who showed Mansaram the LIFE mag­a­zine arti­cle that intro­duced him to the Cana­di­an media the­o­rist and led him to seek out McLuhan after arriv­ing in Cana­da.

Working with Marshall McLuhan

In Toron­to, Mansaram’s fam­i­ly were befriend­ed by and social­ly engaged with the McLuhan fam­i­ly. Mar­shall McLuhan some­times per­son­al­ly drove over to pick up the Mansarams at their hotel to host them at his home at 29 Wells Hill Avenue. Cor­rine McLuhan baked cook­ies for Mansaram’s daugh­ter, while Mar­shall enjoyed tend­ing the fire­place while they chat­ted.

Dur­ing 1966 and 1967, Mansaram paint­ed sev­er­al pic­tures for McLuhan, includ­ing a por­trait of the schol­ar as a media guru. In the late 1960s, he also cre­at­ed a col­lage that was used as the cov­er art for two McLuhan-authored high-school Eng­lish text­books: Voic­es of Lit­er­a­ture, Part 1 and Part 2. In 1994, he designed the cov­er art for Who Was Mar­shall McLuhan? by Bar­ring­ton Nevitt, a col­lab­o­ra­tor of both Mar­shall and his broth­er Mau­rice McLuhan. Mar­shall asked Mansaram to cre­ate col­lages on their fur­nace in the base­ment of their fam­i­ly house; two of the daugh­ters, Eliz­a­beth and Teri McLuhan, rec­ol­lect play­ing in front of these works with their broth­ers when they were chil­dren. (McGov­ern, “Col­lab­o­ra­tive Col­lage”).

In 1967, Mansaram made an impor­tant career move when he accept­ed a posi­tion as a high school art teacher with the Hamil­ton Board of Edu­ca­tion, and moved to the Hamil­ton-Burling­ton area, west of Toron­to. He began his teach­ing career at Hamilton’s Cen­tral Sec­ondary School with its spe­cial art pro­gram, which employed eight art teach­ers. The stu­dents spent half of each day study­ing art and the oth­er half on aca­d­e­m­ic sub­jects. After two years, his whole school was moved to a new build­ing in down­town Hamil­ton, Sir John A. Mac­don­ald Sec­ondary School. After lat­er trans­fers to Glen­dale Sec­ondary, then Bar­ton Sec­ondary, he took ear­ly retire­ment from teach­ing in 1989, allow­ing him to con­cen­trate on his artis­tic endeav­ours full time.

Mansaram became involved with sev­er­al work­shops at McLuhan’s now famous Mon­day Night Sem­i­nars at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to. From one of these unstruc­tured and inter­ac­tive group dis­cus­sions came the idea of a Hap­pen­ing with the inter­sec­tion of East­ern and West­ern cul­tures as its theme.

The East-West Intersect Happening 1967

Pop­u­lar dur­ing the 1960s, Hap­pen­ings were inspired by the ideas and tech­niques of Futur­ists, Dadaists, and Sur­re­al­ists, with the Amer­i­can painter and art his­to­ri­an Allan Kaprow being a prin­ci­pal pro­po­nent of this new the­atri­cal form (Brock­ett 625). Hap­pen­ings appealed to McLuhan’s inter­est in new artis­tic forms that engaged in Figure/Ground analy­sis of arti­facts in their every­day envi­ron­ments. Kaprow was also inter­est­ed in the envi­ron­ments sur­round­ing art works, argu­ing that, par­tic­u­lar­ly with per­for­mance art, audi­ences should be giv­en assign­ments and com­prise part of the total con­text. Such per­for­mances were typ­i­cal­ly non-lin­ear nar­ra­tives, with audi­ences involved in the action, and would usu­al­ly include impro­vi­sa­tion­al ele­ments. McLuhan encour­aged Mansaram to pur­sue this ini­tia­tive, despite being unable to attend him­self, as he was going to be a vis­it­ing pro­fes­sor at Ford­ham Uni­ver­si­ty in New York dur­ing the 1967-68 aca­d­e­m­ic year as the Albert Schweitzer Chair in the Human­i­ties.

Before leav­ing for New York, McLuhan sat down with Mansaram for a short inter­view dur­ing which the artist sought the media scholar’s advice about the pro­duc­tion of his East-West Inter­sect Hap­pen­ing. McLuhan dis­cussed issues such as the con­ver­gence of West­ern and East­ern cul­tures in the glob­al vil­lage; East­ern ele­ments in the lit­er­ary works of T.S. Eliot and James Joyce; the strong East­ern influ­ence on West­ern cul­ture in the 1960s; the trib­al­ism of hip­pie cul­ture in Toronto’s Yorkville dis­trict at that time; time and space in the Elec­tric Age; and the effects of TV on oral cul­tures. The pre­vi­ous­ly unpub­lished inter­view is avail­able online on the McLuhan Galaxy blog (Mansaram “An Unpub­lished Inter­view with Mar­shall McLuhan”), the offi­cial blog of the McLuhan Estate.

The most impor­tant cul­tur­al take­away from Mansaram’s inter­view with McLuhan and his sub­se­quent East-West Inter­sect Hap­pen­ing is McLuhan’s dis­cus­sion of the con­ver­gence of East­ern and West­ern cul­tures. He was aware of that con­ver­gence from his knowl­edge of how mod­ernist writ­ers such as Charles Baude­laire, James Joyce, and T.S. Eliot as well as artists such as Paul Cézanne and Pablo Picas­so includ­ed Indi­an ele­ments in their works. He would have been aware of the hip­pie movement’s embrace of East­ern reli­gions and its emer­gence in pop­u­lar cul­ture. Toronto’s focal point for hip­pies dur­ing the 1960s was the Yorkville area. Yorkville Avenue was just six blocks north of St. Michael’s Col­lege, where McLuhan taught.

McLuhan’s obser­va­tions about East-West con­ver­gence antic­i­pate such pop cul­tur­al events as the Bea­t­les 1968 trip to India (Swan­son “His­to­ry of the Bea­t­les”) and the grow­ing fame of Ravi Shankar in the West. McLuhan told Mansaram:

Well, the sim­ple fact of the mat­ter is the whole world is an East/West hap­pen­ing, and while the West­ern world is going Ori­en­tal, the Ori­en­tal world is going West­ern. This has been going on for a cen­tu­ry, and so what could be a big­ger East/West hap­pen­ing than that?  See, all the West­ern artists have gone Ori­en­tal since Baude­laire, and all the painters, all abstract art is Ori­en­tal art. (“An Unpub­lished Inter­view with Mar­shall McLuhan”)

McLuhan lat­er con­nect­ed East-West con­ver­gence to the hip­pie move­ment, with its predilec­tion for psy­che­del­ic drugs, elec­tron­ic tech­nol­o­gy and media:

I think the prob­lem about the East/West Hap­pen­ing is that it is very dif­fi­cult to find a dif­fer­ence between the East and West. The West is so eager to appear East­ern in every­thing and is so keen on the inner trip. In the Elec­tric Age, by the way, in the Elec­tric Age the whole world is tak­ing the inner trip; because of the cir­cuit, the feed­back, the elec­tric tech­nol­o­gy is psy­che­del­ic. So the West­ern world is going East­ern in that sense of inner trip. (“An Unpub­lished Inter­view with Mar­shall McLuhan”)

The East-West Inter­sect Hap­pen­ing was pro­duced for two nights in 1967 at the Isaacs Gallery. Ele­ments that Mansaram pro­posed to include in it were a danc­ing go-go girl jux­ta­posed with anoth­er woman doing a West­ern con­cert dance in a cage; a five-minute 16-mm film of McLuhan speak­ing; a Dic­ta­phone-record­ed inter­view of McLuhan by Mansaram; talks by a hip­pie leader, a theosophist, and a Bud­dhist monk; taped Indi­an-influ­enced West­ern music as well as West­ern-influ­enced Indi­an music; por­tions of West­ern films; Indi­an films with lit­tle nar­ra­tive line, but using music, dance, and cir­cus ele­ments; and an instal­la­tion by Peter Sepp and Mansaram. The Hap­pen­ing was cov­ered on tele­vi­sion by the prime-time CBC pro­gram The Way It Is on Sat­ur­day night. Sur­viv­ing media arti­facts from that event include: the five-minute 16-mm film of McLuhan, the record­ed inter­view, the tran­script of the Mansaram inter­view (Mansaram, “An Unpub­lished Inter­view with Mar­shall McLuhan”), and Mansaram’s pho­tographs and doc­u­men­ta­tion of the event.

All the above media arti­facts of the orig­i­nal Hap­pen­ing of 1967 were res­ur­rect­ed, or in McLuhan ter­mi­nol­o­gy, retrieved, in June 2012 by Ed Video Gallery in Guelph, Ontario for an exhi­bi­tion of Mansaram’s col­lages, paint­ings, and media art, includ­ing his col­lab­o­ra­tion with McLuhan. The theme of East-West Inter­sect was reca­pit­u­lat­ed under the title Inter­sec­tion: Mansaram & McLuhan, described on the poster as “Col­lages, paint­ings, and media art by P. Mansaram inspired by and in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Mar­shall McLuhan from 1966 to 2012” (Beed­ham, “Medi­um = Mes­sage”).

At around the same time, Mansaram start­ed work­ing on a series of paint­ings which he titled Rear View Mir­ror, which became a sus­tain­ing focus from 1966 to 1972. He pro­duced a film on the same sub­ject in 1966, lat­er re-edit­ed in 2011 for screen­ings at Ed Video in Guelph, Ontario in 2012 and the Exper­i­men­ta 2013 Film Fes­ti­val in Ban­ga­lore, India. Mansaram described this project: “As in the case of ‘Rear View Mir­ror’ we are con­stant­ly cre­at­ing our past, while liv­ing in the present. Past appears in present in var­i­ous forms; paint­ings, draw­ings, pho­tos, mem­o­ries, words, sculp­tures, films. I have woven some of those rem­nants thru this medi­um” (“Fes­ti­val Pro­gramme 2013”). The title refers to a McLuhan meme, the idea that we dri­ve into the future using only our rear view mir­rors: “We march back­wards into the future. Sub­ur­bia lives imag­i­na­tive­ly in Bonan­za-land” (McLuhan and Fiore 74-75). Ini­tial­ly, the paint­ings were dis­played at George Rackus’s Pic­ture Loan Gallery, one of the old­est art gal­leries in Toron­to.

Mansaram also made oth­er exper­i­men­tal films, includ­ing Inter­sect (1967), inspired by the films of Satya­jit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak, and reflect­ing his col­lage work, which com­bined radio and tele­vi­sion com­mer­cials with film con­tent. His lat­er film Devi Stuffed Goat and Pink Cloth (1979) is anoth­er col­lage made in Mum­bai; it explores the gaze of an Indi­an artist in Cana­da look­ing back at his nation of ori­gin (“Fes­ti­val Pro­gramme 2013”). Com­ment­ing on Mansaram’s work in a per­son­al let­ter sent to Mansaram in 1973, Mar­shall Mcluhan wrote that, “Mansaram is a kind of two-way mir­ror, liv­ing simul­ta­ne­ous­ly in the divid­ed and dis­tin­guished worlds of the East and West.”  

The Mansaram-Mcluhan Collaborative Collage

The title of the col­lage to which McLuhan added his touch is Rear View Mir­ror 74 (RVM 74) [Fig. 1], part of Mansaram’s Rear View Mir­ror series cre­at­ed between 1966 to 1972. Mansaram start­ed RVM 74 in 1969 and added sev­er­al addi­tion­al ele­ments over four decades lat­er in 2011. It was recent­ly acquired by the Roy­al Ontario Muse­um in Toron­to (ROM), along with many of his oth­er paint­ings, col­lages, prints, and sup­port­ing doc­u­ments.

To appre­ci­ate RVM 74, it is nec­es­sary to iden­ti­fy and inter­pret the approx­i­mate­ly two dozen images and tex­tu­al pas­sages intro­duced by Mansaram and McLuhan. McLuhan added the six Eng­lish-lan­guage pas­sages. Start­ing at the top of the col­lage and mov­ing counter-clock­wise, McLuhan’s con­tri­bu­tions are as fol­lows:[2]

1. NOW THAT LADER’S GONE,
MUST LIE DOWN AGAIN
WHERE ALL LADDERS START IN THE FOUL RAG & BONE SHOP OF MY HEART

This is a quo­ta­tion from W.B. Yeats’s The Cir­cus Animal’s Deser­tion, which, accord­ing to Eric McLuhan in a per­son­al email to the author of this essay, is often cit­ed in From Cliché to Arche­type. There are errors, no doubt inten­tion­al, in the way it appears on the col­lage. In a per­son­al email to the author of this essay, Mansaram stat­ed that McLuhan wrote the quotes on the col­lage in pen­cil and then Mansaram high­light­ed the let­ters with a mag­ic mark­er to make them leg­i­ble.

2. HOW PIERCEFUL GROWS
THE HAZY YON
HOW MYRTLE PETERED [unclear]
THOW UP [unclear]
FOR SPRING HATH
SPRUNG THE
CYCLOTRON,
HOW HIGH BROWSE
THOU,
BROWN
COW?

In a per­son­al email to the author of this essay, Eric McLuhan iden­ti­fied this as being one of the Songs of Pogo on a record by Walt Kel­ly, an Amer­i­can ani­ma­tor and car­toon­ist who ini­tial­ly worked for Walt Dis­ney and lat­er cre­at­ed the Pogo com­ic strip for Dell Comics (Stern “We Have Met the Ene­my”). The text con­tains errors, as Mansaram’s inten­tion was to com­mu­ni­cate the idea that “the medi­um is the mes­sage”: that the over­all form and ground of an arti­fact are its trans­for­ma­tion­al ele­ments far more than its con­tent. The last line — “HOW HIGH BROWSE THOU, BROWN COW?”— is a take on a speech exer­cise used in the U.S. South In the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry, to train a speak­er in form­ing vow­els: “How now brown cow?” Again, as Mansaram informed that author of this essay dur­ing a per­son­al inter­view, McLuhan wrote the quotes on the col­lage in pen­cil and then Mansaram high­light­ed the let­ters with a mark­er to make them leg­i­ble.

3.      HELP
BEAUTIFY
JUNKYARDS
THROW
SOMETHING
LOVELY
TODAY

As Eric McLuhan informed this author in a per­son­al email, McLuhan saw this writ­ing on a bill­board adver­tis­ing a junk­yard in Toron­to. In cor­rect gram­mar, it would read: “Help beau­ti­fy junk yards. Throw some­thing love­ly away today.” The quote comes up else­where in a mod­er­at­ed con­ver­sa­tion between McLuhan, Mal­colm Mug­geridge, and Nor­man Mail­er, the for­mer telling the oth­ers that “There’s a won­der­ful sign hang­ing on a sign in Toron­to, which says, Help beau­ti­fy junkyards—throw some­thing love­ly away today. I think this is a thought that con­ser­v­a­tives need to con­sid­er” (Lennon 134). McLuhan insert­ed the phrase in oth­er con­texts as well; in this case, Mansaram applied this McLuhan-sup­plied phrase to the col­lage in his hand.

4. THE
PARANOIDS
ARE
AFTER
ME

This was a wise­crack that Mar­shall McLuhan thought up, as relat­ed to this author by Eric McLuhan in a per­son­al email. Again, McLuhan pen­ciled the quote onto the col­lage and then Mansaram high­light­ed it.

5. “H M McLuhan” on the right side of the col­lage and a lit­tle above half way up, tilt­ed ver­ti­cal­ly, is Mar­shall McLuhan’s sig­na­ture which he added him­self.
6. Time wounds all heals heels

This appears on the right side, just above McLuhan’s sig­na­ture, but the phrase is upside down to the view­er; “heals” is crossed out and “heels” is sub­sti­tut­ed above it. The phrase is a rearrange­ment of the apho­rism “Time heals all wounds.” Accord­ing to the online Quote Inves­ti­ga­tor Gar­son O’Toole (“Time Wounds All Heels”), Grou­cho Marx deliv­ered the phrase in the 1940 film Go West, but the expres­sion had already been in cir­cu­la­tion at least since 1934.

Mansaram pro­vid­ed the rest of the col­lage images, as well as the non-Eng­lish texts—almost two dozen ele­ments. The dark strip of fab­ric along the top, with its motif of birds and flow­ers, occu­pies about 20 per­cent of the col­lage, rep­re­sent­ing nature or, in the artist’s words, the “mas­ter con­troller of the world.” Far­ther down on the right side are a pea­cock, a pot­ted plant, and anoth­er flower, once again sym­bols of the nat­ur­al ecol­o­gy; anoth­er flower occu­pies the cen­tre of the col­lage, to the right of the dome. There are sev­er­al sym­bols of the divine: at bot­tom cen­tre is a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the pre-Vedas Indi­an god of the wind, Varun; to its left is a gener­ic image of a god; to its left is a 3-D post­card of Jesus Christ; final­ly, the dome just to the left of cen­tre rep­re­sents tem­ples, syn­a­gogues, or church­es. Mis­cel­la­neous ele­ments include a sword or dag­ger, which might rep­re­sent defense, jus­tice, or punishment—all of which guard civ­i­liza­tion; at the bot­tom, to the right of cen­tre, is a seg­ment of text from a Toron­to Greek news­pa­per; imme­di­ate­ly above the dome, and slight­ly to its right, is a large colour­ful lot­tery poster from India, depict­ing pic­tures of two well-known Indi­an actress­es of the time, with rows of lit­tle envelopes con­tain­ing rewards to be won by shoot­ing a pel­let gun at bal­loons mount­ed on a board; there is a man­u­script with an X through it to the right of HELP BEAUTIFY JUNKYARDS, with the X sig­ni­fy­ing the irrel­e­vance of con­tent, in oth­er words, that “the medi­um is the mes­sage.”

The irrel­e­vance of con­tent is also rep­re­sent­ed by the text that looks like Hin­di or oth­er East­ern script, but is mean­ing­less scrib­bles, just below the right-hand sec­tion of the dark bird/flower motif band along the top. The same applies to the upside-down scrib­bles, just above the dagger’s han­dle. The tex­tu­al images in Eng­lish, pseu­do-Hin­di, and Greek rep­re­sent the Guten­berg era of print lit­er­a­cy. In 2011, Mansaram added rep­re­sen­ta­tions of elec­tron­ic media to sig­ni­fy a new com­mu­ni­ca­tion era: the brown cir­cle below the cen­tre and slight­ly to the left is a com­pact disk (CD), below it and to the left is the first iPhone, and to its left is a pre-Xerox blue­print used by archi­tects. Above the blue patch and the com­pact disk are four TV sets in a row. The first and third from the left dis­play flower images, a jux­ta­po­si­tion of nature and tech­nol­o­gy; the sec­ond has side doors closed over the pic­ture tube, and the fourth has a black X over it, again sug­gest­ing the irrel­e­vance of the pro­gram­ming that appears on it—“the medi­um is the mes­sage.”

Final­ly, there is a pho­to­graph of Mar­shall McLuhan in the cen­tre, smil­ing and with his right hand in a pock­et while his left hand clutch­es a book. Mansaram took this pho­to near McLuhan’s Coach House, behind what is now the Kel­ly Library at St. Michael’s Col­lege, Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to. Mansaram has signed his work ver­ti­cal­ly, almost in the cen­tre of the col­lage, with his start­ing and com­ple­tion dates indi­cat­ed by “69/2011”—spanning almost a half cen­tu­ry.

Fig­ure 1. Rear View Mir­ror 74 (RVM 74) – Col­lage by Mansaram and Mar­shall McLuhan (1969, with new ele­ments added in 2011)

Mcluhan’s Take on the Collage Art Form

On a page that is unti­tled and unpag­i­nat­ed, pre­ced­ing page one of the Pro­logue to The Guten­berg Galaxy (1962), McLuhan wrote of his “mosa­ic or field approach,” stat­ing that it rep­re­sents “the galaxy or con­stel­la­tion of events” in a “mosa­ic of per­pet­u­al­ly inter­act­ing forms that have under­gone kalei­do­scop­ic transformation—particularly in our own time.” That is an apt descrip­tion for Mansaram and McLuhan’s Rear View Mir­ror 74, which rep­re­sents ele­ments from the con­verg­ing cul­tures of India and the West, includ­ing aspects of their nat­ur­al ecolo­gies, media ecolo­gies, and reli­gious sym­bols. Ele­na Lam­ber­ti argues that mean­ing from such a mosa­ic assem­blage is acquired:

… through the inter­play with its own ground. By doing so, a pat­tern gets cre­at­ed and in turn revealed through our active obser­va­tion. Pat­tern recog­ni­tion is the way we approach all mosaics: we look for the over­all design that the assem­blage of the var­i­ous tesser­ae brings to light, some­thing which tran­scends their mere sum. (xxvi­ii)

Such mosa­ic struc­ture forces view­ers to employ pat­tern recog­ni­tion, to pay atten­tion to the total design, and to par­tic­i­pate in the process of deriv­ing mean­ing from what they are expe­ri­enc­ing. It pro­motes active engage­ment, rather than the pas­sive and detached obser­va­tion that is char­ac­ter­is­tic of rep­re­sen­ta­tion­al art.

McLuhan appre­ci­at­ed col­lage art and sup­port­ed this aspect of Mansaram’s artis­tic expres­sion because he sensed that this art form bet­ter reflect­ed the post-lit­er­ate “alla­tonce­ness” (McLuhan and Fiore 63) world of elec­tron­ic media and tech­nol­o­gy. As Mar­gari­ta D’Amico argues, “In his own pub­lished work if McLuhan was not the first to have used col­lage, [but] it is he who has best cap­tured the total­ly new char­ac­ter of the new mass means of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and the social impact of new tech­nolo­gies” (Nevitt and Mau­rice McLuhan 232). The super­seded Guten­berg era of wide­spread lit­er­a­cy based on the dom­i­nance of writ­ing and print media in the form of rel­a­tive­ly inex­pen­sive books, mag­a­zines, jour­nals, and news­pa­pers favoured visu­al space. Yet what McLuhan called “new media” favoured the ear via tech­nolo­gies such as radio, movies, TV, record­ed music, and satel­lites, which replaced visu­al space with acoustic space. The visu­al aspect still exist­ed in film and TV of course, but sight was no longer the most dom­i­nant of the sens­es in the new elec­tron­ic media.

Mar­shall McLuhan and Bar­ring­ton Nevitt opined that:

Our world … is an invis­i­ble Rim Spin—all the com­mu­ni­ca­tion that sur­rounds us. It is like a cyclone, a vor­tex that has trans­formed the old world of visu­al con­nec­tions into a new world of audile-tac­tile res­o­nances: a glob­al the­atre of instant aware­ness. (Nevitt and Mau­rice McLuhan 231)

In a col­lab­o­ra­tive text with Mar­shall McLuhan first pub­lished in Span­ish in Venezuela, D’Amico linked col­lage and mosa­ic using McLuhan’s ter­mi­nol­o­gy:

We live in an acoustic space … like dis­car­nate minds float­ing in the mag­net­ic cities of radio, tele­vi­sion and satel­lites. …Our world is a great mul­ti­me­dia poem. To under­stand this world we must study its process­es, inves­ti­gate their effects to rec­og­nize their caus­es: to pro­gram our future … Per­haps our one pos­si­ble approach may be of mosa­ic type or col­lage, rather than a lin­eal one of log­i­cal demon­stra­tion. (Nevitt and Mau­rice McLuhan 231)

The art of the pre­vi­ous Guten­berg era of print had been most­ly rep­re­sen­ta­tion­al: street scenes, nat­ur­al land­scapes or seascapes, and por­traits that were iden­ti­fi­able as such. The intro­duc­tion of per­spec­tive, around the same time in the mid-15th cen­tu­ry as Gutenberg’s inven­tion of move­able type, enhanced the life­like­ness of this rep­re­sen­ta­tion­al­i­ty (McLuhan, Guten­berg Galaxy). Just as the lin­ear­i­ty of type­set print­ed pages endowed read­ers with a fixed point of view, per­spec­tive in art made “the sin­gle eye the cen­tre of the vis­i­ble world” with every­thing con­verg­ing on it “to the van­ish­ing point of infin­i­ty” (Berg­er 16).

Yet elec­tron­ic media sub­sti­tut­ed simul­tane­ity or all-at-once­ness for lin­ear­i­ty and ABC-mind­ed­ness, and acoustic space for visu­al space, thus elim­i­nat­ing per­spec­tive and the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a fixed point of view. Rep­re­sen­ta­tion­al art was no longer reflec­tive of elec­tron­ic media, satel­lites, space flight, and new con­cep­tions of space/time that they stim­u­lat­ed. Abstract art in its non-rep­re­sen­ta­tion­al­i­ty pro­vid­ed one solu­tion, and the ancient art of col­lage pro­vid­ed anoth­er. D’Amico explains why mosa­ic and its appli­ca­tion to col­lage art appealed to McLuhan:

Mosa­ic empha­sizes that all ele­ments togeth­er cre­ate the total effect. As for col­lage, the asso­ci­a­tion, arrange­ment and jux­ta­po­si­tion of objects, phras­es, dif­fer­ent con­cepts, both het­ero­ge­neous and absurd, that com­ment upon and influ­ence each oth­er, all of this has very close affini­ties with con­cepts of chance, acci­dent or “serendip­i­ty” (mak­ing acci­den­tal dis­cov­er­ies of valu­able, but unsought, knowl­edge), impor­tant con­cepts in present sci­ence and cul­ture. (Nevitt and Mau­rice McLuhan 231-232)

Mar­shall McLuhan, a cul­tur­al medieval­ist by train­ing, was espe­cial­ly inter­est­ed in the low­er three of the sev­en lib­er­al arts of the medieval edu­ca­tion­al cur­ricu­lum: gram­mar, rhetoric, and log­ic. He was aware of medieval artis­tic expres­sion beyond the lit­er­ary, includ­ing the pre-Renais­sance mosa­ic art that fol­lowed the Byzan­tine prac­tice of dec­o­rat­ing walls and ceil­ings with tesser­ae. Art his­to­ri­an Alexan­der Nagel explains that the medieval mosa­ic rep­re­sent­ed for McLuhan “a mode of appre­hen­sion” that inte­grat­ed the full human sen­so­ri­um of vision, hear­ing, taste, smell, and even touch, where­as West­ern rep­re­sen­ta­tion­al art biased per­cep­tion in favour of the eye and sequen­tial vision:

Mosaics engaged an inte­grat­ed medieval “sen­so­ry ratio” where the visu­al was not dis­con­nect­ed from the oth­er sens­es and if any­thing was sub­or­di­nat­ed to the “audile” and “tac­tile” forms …  [In] The Guten­berg Galaxy, [he wrote that the mosa­ic is] “a mul­ti­di­men­sion­al world of inter struc­tur­al resonance”—in con­tra­dic­tion to mod­ern per­spec­tive, which was “an abstract illu­sion built on the intense sep­a­ra­tion of the visu­al from the oth­er sens­es. (160)

Indeed, McLuhan found “the mosa­ic mode of being rel­e­vant in the new age of elec­tron­ic media, which were explod­ing the bounds of a mechan­i­cal­ly under­stood world, putting things once again into mul­ti­ple rela­tion across space and time” (Nagel 160) .

Mansaram also relat­ed a rel­e­vant side note to this essay’s author: at the open­ing of his 2012 exhi­bi­tion of col­lages at the J.M. Gallery, now the Ashok Jain Gallery in New York, Teri McLuhan, a doc­u­men­tary film­mak­er and daugh­ter of Mar­shall McLuhan, com­ment­ed to Mansaram, “That is how my dad spoke, just like your col­lages.” Those who are still mys­ti­fied by some of McLuhan’s cryp­tic and non-lin­ear pro­nounce­ments might pos­si­bly agree.

Final Remarks: McLuhan’s Take on Mansaram’s Art

Mar­shall McLuhan fol­lowed the mod­ernist writ­ers that he great­ly admired—especially Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, and Wyn­d­ham Lewis—in hold­ing artists in high esteem for their per­cep­tu­al acu­ity and “inte­gral aware­ness” (Under­stand­ing Media 65), which equipped them to be what Ezra Pound called the “anten­nae of the race.” In his intro­duc­tion to the sec­ond edi­tion of Under­stand­ing Media, McLuhan explained that art is a kind of radar or “ear­ly warn­ing sys­tem” that enables the alert to antic­i­pate social and psy­chic effects before their poten­tial­ly harm­ful con­se­quences (x) and to devel­op appro­pri­ate con­trols. He con­sid­ered art to be par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant in the tech­no­log­i­cal era that he lived in because the effects of the new elec­tron­ic tech­nolo­gies were sub­lim­i­nal but had the effect of alter­ing human “sense ratios or pat­tern of per­cep­tion” (Under­stand­ing Media 19); users had no resis­tance because of their lack of aware­ness. How­ev­er, what he called the “seri­ous artist” can “encounter tech­nol­o­gy with impuni­ty, just because he is an expert aware of the changes in sense per­cep­tion” (19). This idea of the arts as being defen­sive and prophet­ic ele­vates the impor­tance of the arts well above the com­mon idea of its being mere self-expres­sion for artists and aes­thet­ic enjoy­ment for view­ers.

McLuhan devel­oped his art-as-ear­ly-warn­ing-sys­tem metaphor into the Dis­tant Ear­ly Warn­ing sys­tem, or DEW Line, refer­ring to the defen­sive sys­tem of radar sta­tions installed across Canada’s Arc­tic north dur­ing the Cold War. Art as a DEW Line was a pow­er­ful metaphor dur­ing the Cold War with North Amer­i­cans as well as the rest of the world. McLuhan lat­er applied the DEW Line metaphor to his Mar­shall McLuhan DEW-LINE newslet­ter, pub­lished from 1968-1970 by Eugene M. (“Tony”) Schwartz in New York. The off-shoot DEW-LINE play­ing card deck (1969) sim­i­lar­ly intend­ed to stim­u­late prob­lem-solv­ing in a “think­ing-out­side-the-box” man­ner.

Just as he had adopt­ed a broad view of what con­sti­tutes a medi­um, McLuhan con­sid­ered an artist to be any per­son “in any field, sci­en­tif­ic or human­is­tic, who grasps the impli­ca­tions of his actions and of new knowl­edge in his own time” (Under­stand­ing Media 65), includ­ing busi­ness schol­ars such as Peter Druck­er and futur­ists like Buck­min­ster Fuller. How­ev­er, McLuhan held cer­tain mod­ernist writ­ers and painters in espe­cial­ly high regard for their capa­bil­i­ties in the train­ing the per­cep­tion of read­ers and view­ers. “Inte­gral aware­ness” implies an inte­grat­ed human sen­so­ri­um in which the oth­er sens­es are not sub­or­di­nat­ed to the visu­al sense, a sen­si­bil­i­ty that McLuhan attrib­uted to James Joyce espe­cial­ly, whom he ref­er­enced prob­a­bly more than any oth­er artist in his own work. He sought this Joycean sen­si­bil­i­ty in the work of visu­al artists as well, espe­cial­ly in the painters and design­ers in Toron­to at the time such as Sorel Etrog, Harley Park­er, René Cera, and, of course, Mansaram.

McLuhan also viewed the arts as cog­ni­tive and social cor­rec­tives to the harm­ful aspects of elec­tron­ic media. Artists could help peo­ple adjust their per­cep­tu­al capa­bil­i­ties to the new envi­ron­ments result­ing from new media by cre­at­ing anti-envi­ron­ments with their art works:

Art as an anti-envi­ron­ment is an indis­pens­able means of per­cep­tion, for envi­ron­ments, as such, are imper­cep­ti­ble. Their pow­er to impose their ground rules on our per­cep­tu­al life is so com­plete that there is no scope for dia­logue or inter­face. Hence the need for art or anti-envi­ron­ments. (E. McLuhan and Gor­don 3-4)

Influ­enced by Edward T. Hall, McLuhan held that the “ground rules, the per­va­sive struc­ture, the over­all pat­tern eludes per­cep­tion” by those liv­ing in it, “except in so far as there is an anti-envi­ron­ment or counter-sit­u­a­tion con­struct­ed to pro­vide a means of direct atten­tion” (qtd. in E. McLuhan and Gor­don 4). In oth­er words, those liv­ing in any envi­ron­ment are obliv­i­ous to it, as the one thing they can nev­er see is the ele­ment through which they move: “we don’t know who dis­cov­ered water, but we’re pret­ty sure it wasn’t a fish” (qtd. in S. McLuhan and Staines 106).

Anti-envi­ron­ments are impor­tant for their capac­i­ty to raise sub­lim­i­nal and hid­den envi­ron­ments to con­scious aware­ness, the first step in “under­stand­ing media” and there­by gain­ing con­trol over them. In a Play­boy inter­view (1969), McLuhan urged: “The cen­tral pur­pose of all my work is to con­vey this mes­sage, that by under­stand­ing media as they extend man, we gain a mea­sure of con­trol over them.” Alice Rae notes McLuhan’s use of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” to illus­trate the man­ner in which only some­one on the out­side of an envi­ron­ment can see it for what it is. McLuhan’s inter­pre­ta­tion of the Hans Chris­t­ian Ander­sen sto­ry was that:

Well-adjust­ed” courtiers, hav­ing vest­ed inter­ests, saw the emper­or as beau­ti­ful­ly appoint­ed. The “anti­so­cial” brat, unac­cus­tomed to the old envi­ron­ment, clear­ly saw that the Emper­or “ain’t got noth­in’ on.” The new envi­ron­ment was clear­ly vis­i­ble to him. (qtd. in McLuhan and Fiore 88, orig­i­nal empha­sis)

Today, as through­out his­to­ry, artists are often out­siders to the pow­er and mon­eyed inter­ests of those who man­age, own, and ben­e­fit from the glob­al high tech­nol­o­gy cor­po­ra­tions. Like the “anti­so­cial brat” of Andersen’s sto­ry, artists can see the down­sides and the losers of the tech­no­log­i­cal mael­strom. While new tech­no­log­i­cal exten­sions of our­selves gen­er­ate what McLuhan called “Nar­cis­sus nar­co­sis” (Under­stand­ing Media 41), numb­ness, and som­nam­bu­lism, artists sharp­en our per­cep­tions, mak­ing us aware of sub­lim­i­nal tech­no­log­i­cal envi­ron­ments and aid­ing us in over­com­ing the dis­ser­vices of new tech­nolo­gies.

How much of what has been described in this the­o­ret­i­cal dis­cus­sion of McLuhan’s views on the rela­tion­ship between artists and soci­ety did the media schol­ar see in the artis­tic work of Mansaram? Clear­ly, he prin­ci­pal­ly saw it as a con­ver­gence of East­ern and West­ern cul­tures and sen­si­bil­i­ties, a sub­set of his glob­al vil­lage idea that he described in The Guten­berg Galaxy: “The new elec­tron­ic inter­de­pen­dence recre­ates the world in the image of a glob­al vil­lage” (31). As in a vil­lage, peo­ple were becom­ing more aware of each oth­er because of tele­vi­sion, movies, radio, tele­phones, and afford­able glob­al trav­el:

Ours is a brand-new world of all-at-once-ness. “Time” has ceased, “space” has van­ished. We now live in a “glob­al vil­lage” … a simul­ta­ne­ous hap­pen­ing. Infor­ma­tion pours upon us, instan­ta­neous­ly and con­tin­u­ous­ly. As soon as infor­ma­tion is acquired, it is very rapid­ly replaced by still new­er infor­ma­tion. Our elec­tri­cal­ly con­fig­ured world has forced us to move from the habit of data clas­si­fi­ca­tion to the mode of pat­tern recog­ni­tion. (McLuhan and Fiore 63)

Mansaram’s art is an anti-envi­ron­ment to the increas­ing­ly tech­nol­o­gized cul­ture of North Amer­i­ca, which Neil Post­man, a New York Uni­ver­si­ty col­league of McLuhan, would lat­er term tech­nop­oly: a state of mind that “con­sists in the deifi­ca­tion of tech­nol­o­gy, finds its sat­is­fac­tion in tech­nol­o­gy, and takes its orders from tech­nol­o­gy” (Post­man 71). Mansaram’s col­lages are anti-envi­ron­ments to rep­re­sen­ta­tion­al art and its rec­og­niz­able images of exter­nal real­i­ty. McLuhan espe­cial­ly appre­ci­at­ed Mansaram’s col­lages, which he insist­ed bet­ter reflect­ed the “all-at-once­ness” of elec­tron­ic com­mu­ni­ca­tion and infor­ma­tion. McLuhan lat­er showed his approval by writ­ing the fol­low­ing appre­ci­a­tion of Mansaram’s col­lage art in a per­son­al let­ter:

The work of Mansaram presents a nat­ur­al dia­logue between the cul­tures of the East and of the West. His Ori­en­tal frame of ref­er­ence and sen­si­bil­i­ty … brings many forms and many media to par­tic­i­pate in one anoth­er. Mansaram’s cos­mopoli­tan per­cep­tion enables him to enter­tain West­ern leit­mo­tifs eas­i­ly and nat­u­ral­ly. As the West los­es its intense visu­al pref­er­ence and enters the icon­ic world of sculp­tur­al and acoustic val­ues, the painter­ly and graph­ic idiom of India gains steadi­ly in West­ern habits of accep­tance. The work of Mansaram brings the mosa­ic forms of T.S. Eliot and James Joyce to the Ori­ent in the very moment and by the same means that Mansaram enables us to con­tem­plate the Ori­ent as a vari­ant modal­i­ty of The Waste Land. In short, Mansaram is a kind of two-way mir­ror, liv­ing simul­ta­ne­ous­ly in the divid­ed and dis­tin­guished worlds of the East and West.

Mansaram has enjoyed dozens of exhi­bi­tions of his art in gal­leries in both Cana­da and India. Since 2012, he has been gain­ing greater recog­ni­tion with major exhi­bi­tions in Mum­bai, Ban­ga­lore, Guelph, Mis­sis­sauga, Hamil­ton, Toron­to, and New York. Although impor­tant gal­leries have acquired some of his paint­ings and col­lages, the Nation­al Gallery of Cana­da and the Art Gallery of Ontario have not yet been among them. Recent­ly the Roy­al Ontario Muse­um (ROM) under­took a major acqui­si­tion of over 700 of his works. Accord­ing to Dr. Deepali Dewan, a Senior Cura­tor in the Depart­ment of World Cul­ture at the Roy­al Ontario Muse­um, item­ized in a per­son­al email to the author of this essay, this acqui­si­tion was com­prised of 94 works on paper, 11 large paint­ings or col­lages, 216 prints from his Image India series, 13 black-and-white or hand-paint­ed pho­tographs, and 125 sup­port­ing doc­u­ments includ­ing exhib­it posters, post­cards, and pam­phlets, with more items to be assessed and count­ed. Why this recog­ni­tion from a muse­um, rather than Canada’s major art gal­leries? The ROM clear­ly acknowl­edges and declares its pur­pose in its mis­sion state­ment: “to be a cham­pi­on for the nat­ur­al and cul­tur­al worlds; to serve as a forum for our diverse com­mu­ni­ties; and to cre­ate knowl­edge that con­tributes to a bet­ter future” (“Pur­pose and Strate­gic Objec­tives”). Canada’s major art gal­leries might still need to do more to acknowl­edge Canada’s mul­ti­cul­tur­al diver­si­ty through their col­lec­tions, or so it seems by exam­in­ing the exam­ple of Mansaram’s hereto­fore neglect.

Fig­ure 2. Mar­shall McLuhan & P. Mansaram at the open­ing of Mansaram’s “Rear View Mir­ror” Exhi­bi­tion at the Pic­ture Loan Gallery in Toron­to, 1974

Works Cited

Ander­sen, Hans Chris­t­ian. “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, http://​www​.ander​sen​.sdu​.dk/​v​a​e​r​k​/​h​e​r​s​h​o​l​t​/​T​h​e​E​m​p​e​r​o​r​s​N​e​w​C​l​o​t​h​e​s​_​e​.​h​tml.

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Image Notes

Fig­ure 1. Rear View Mir­ror 74 (RVM 74) – Col­lage by Mansaram and Mar­shall McLuhan (1969, with new ele­ments added in 2011)

Fig­ure 2. Mar­shall McLuhan & P. Mansaram at the open­ing of Mansaram’s “Rear View Mir­ror” Exhi­bi­tion at the Pic­ture Loan Gallery in Toron­to, 1974

Notes

[1] Pre­vi­ous­ly unpub­lished bio­graph­i­cal infor­ma­tion by Scott McGov­ern of Ed Video, Guelph from notes sup­plied by Mansaram. McGov­ern, Scott. “Col­lab­o­ra­tive Col­lage.” McLuhan Galaxy, 6 Aug. 2012, mcluhangalaxy​.word​press​.com/​2​0​1​2​/​0​8​/​0​6​/​c​o​l​l​a​b​o​r​a​t​i​v​e​-​c​o​l​l​a​g​e​-​p​a​i​n​t​i​n​g​-​m​a​r​s​h​a​l​l​-​m​c​l​u​h​a​n​-​m​a​n​s​a​r​am/

[2] Eric McLuhan kind­ly assist­ed in iden­ti­fy­ing the quo­ta­tions on the col­lage that are in Eng­lish and were con­tributed by his father.


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