{Marshall McLuhan} - 'Hot' or 'cold'?

The man who coined the phrase "The Medium is the Message" was born 100 years ago on July 21st. McLuhan's views on the changes in society based on media consumption have turned out to be quite prophetic. He was the first to see the far-reaching impact of television when many dismissed it as a phase.
McLuhan saw television as a 'hot' media; that cut through our cognitive filter and activated our nervous system in a way that 'cool' print could not. It was such terminology however that left some critics decidedly 'cool' towards McLuhan's ideas: dismissing him as more charlatan than a philosopher. But time has proved him correct in light of the overwhelming influence of television as our primary mode of consuming news and information and now of course the internet age.
For McLuhan, this was similar to the shift in Western culture from an oral society to a literate society with the invention by Gutenberg of the printing press. For McLuhan, televsion was the death-knell for the written word and that image-based media would be the governing choice for many. He was not, however, a cheerleader for this development, simply an observer.
I was asked to create a caricature of McLuhan for the Toronto Star which appeared with Phillip Marchand's column titled the "Fall and Rise of Marshall McLuhan"
With assignments such as these, it is a choice of whether to draw him as a young man or when he was older and also how much can I push the features from 'portrait' to 'caricature'. So I did two versions- a more 'portrait' version; and then one that was a little more exaggerated. The Star opted for the more exaggerated version which you see at the left. The more portrait version is on the right.
Color became a last minute option so I added cool blues and warm oranges which symbolize McLuhan's division of media into 'hot' and 'cold' but also to indicate the 'fall and rise' of McLuhan's insights over time.
For Phillip Marchand's retrospective visit the link:


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