McLuhan’s Massage Parlour

Immersive and participatory installation using an immersive display and sound system, a computer, a router and an iPhone omnidirectional controller.

Created by Luc Courchesne, in collaboration with Mike Wozniewski, Benjamin Bergery, Luc Martinez and David Duguay, in co-production with the SAT (Society for Arts and Technology), and with support from Université de Montréal.

McLuhan’s Massage Parlor was commissioned by the City of Toronto under the curatorship of Shirley Madill. It was premiered on October 1st at the Metropolitan Hotel Toronto’s Ballroom (108 Chestnut Street, Toronto) as part of Nuit Blanche 2011. This video was recorded at the second showing in Montreal’s SAT large dome, November-December 2011.

Contents from the book “The Medium Is The Massage” (McLuhan/Fiore/Agel) are re-deployed in a navigable 3D space as if they had escaped the printed page. People familiar with the book will recognize the contents, others will discover this amazing masterpiece (1967). The soundscape is composed of elements from the text and from other sound bites illustrating McLuhan’s love for aural culture and the human voice. The result is an immersive and interactive mash-up both historical with references to McLuhan’s ideas and writings and contemporary in connecting McLuhan’s insights with today’s Internet culture and society.

The original version of the installation was composed of 4 large rear projection screens creating an inner space where people could stand after having approached from the outside. Other presentations have occurred in spheric displays including the Panoscope 360° and the Satosphère (an 18 meter 360° x 210° dome) at SAT.
Visitors venture on their own in the 3D space using a handheld controller (iPhone). The Massage Parlor is thus a sort of virtual media garden, a form that McLuhan would most probably have delected in.

The concept could be extended to connect a number of locations allowing remote audiences to share the same virtual garden experience with the possibility of live encounters. This would give new strength and reality to McLuhan’s idea of a global village where connected inhabitants interact in real-time.

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