Harley Parker’s Reconceptualization of the Museum as a Communication System
In this paper, I probe Parker’s and McLuhan’s ideas on a new mentality they believed was emerging, first by relating these ideas to a revival they believed was occurring, of a forma mentis associated with orality and with mythic thinking (they shared this belief with other members of the Toronto School of Communication). I then turn to explore relations between film and this oral/mythic mentality, by considering Labyrinth, Spiral, and Picnic in Space, works that were, in one way or another associated with the members of the Toronto School and raise issues around the history of mentalities.
Ken Coupland’s Restaurant at Rochdale College
Between 1968 and 1975, Toronto’s Rochdale College was North America’s largest free school. At its foot sat The Same 24-hour Restaurant. Designed by Ken Coupland, this futuristic and sensorial space served as a liminal site between Rochdale’s new society and the world outside. This paper traces the development of the restaurant’s designs and operations through the college’s printed ephemera, considering this material in light of Harley Parker’s exhibition designs. Where Parker was concern with the contemporary relevance of the museum experience in regards to the “participatory wakefulness” of its audience, I propose that Coupland’s futuristic design aimed to advance a utopian project embedded in Rochdale’s contested late-Brutalist form.
Harley Parker’s Struggles at the Royal Ontario Museum
This paper examines Harley Parker’s main achievement as Head of Installation at the Royal Ontario Museum, the “Hall of Fossils” that opened in January 1967; it was dismantled decades later. Parker’s explanations of the decisions he made in constructing the exhibits, as well as deviations from the subject matter proper of paleontology, are considered within an overall critical assessment of the challenge he faced in reaching a very specific audience. His meditations on why it was important to reach a youth and “hippy” countercultural viewership are contextualized in relation to the theories of his colleague and collaborator Marshall McLuhan, and his failures in this regard are exposed and discussed.
Iain Baxter&’s Art Project for Amodern is a new series of language art works encompassing his oral statements through an & (ampersand) speech bubble as tondos – regarding his influences from Harley Parker, Marshall McLuhan, Zen, Bagged Place, SFU, VSI, ECOARTVAN, his ideas about life, art, information, 0s & 1s, teaching, and finally the coming ANTROPOCEANE. The &MANS thoughts & speech is always another &.
Our practice often contextualizes visual art within everyday life while simultaneously referring to and reassessing twentieth century art history – its utopias, and stylistic polemics. Concurrently, our projects discuss contemporary museum modalities within the context of ideological stances compromised by globalizing forces. We seek to expose the tensions arising between the historicity, formalism and politicization of the artwork to produce new meanings. Contained within this visual essay are images of our artwork from our early practice up to the present. Our visual contributions are intended to comment on the changing role of the exhibition – one that has moved beyond specimens, and toward designed and immersive environments.