lunes, 16 de marzo de 2009


I just read the chapter "Visual and Acoustic Space" from the work The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man, by Canadian scholar Marshall McLuhan, and would like to make some notes here in the blog - specially in relation to the previous post, and also as a way to foster ideas for my phase 3 project.

In "The Global Village", McLuhan proposes a detailed conceptual framework through which we can understand the significant technological changes carried out during the past decades. One of the main points of his theory is that technology users are "trapped" by two different ways of perceiving the world. On the one hand we have what he calls "visual space" (the linear perception, a characteristic of the Western world); on the other, the acoustic space (the holistic reasoning, from the Eastern world). The author argues that the printed media stimulates and mantains the perception of visual space; however, important changes in communication media (tv, technology database, satellite networks, global media...) are leading the users towars a more dynamic and multi-axial "acoustic space".

I found a very interesting (and brief) article about this same text, that would like to share with all of you. It is very useful, since it summarizes the main ideas of the McLuhan's article:

- Western history has been dominated by the perception of the world as a linear thought: everything has a beginning, a middle, and an end. The result is a world view dominated by linear logic and the symbolic abstraction of meaning.
- The alphabet and writing strongly biases our communication towards the world of visual space. Our discourse about our environment is constricted into ideas of lines, planes and grids. The universe is perceived as having a beginning, and at some point an end; time is constructed as a line.
- In contrast with the linear biases of visual space, acoustic space is analogous to the natural environment. Acoustic space surrounds us.

-Writing and publishing are the main technologies that have focused Western society on the visual; however, McLuhan claims the counteraction of two "acoustic" technologies (cash money and the compass), have kept us with some balance. Acoustic technologies focus on the intangible and the global.



Left hemisphere of the brain.

Linear, sequential; based on the line, plane, grid, perspective. Heightens response of the eye. Linear conceptualization, causality.


Right hemisphere of the brain.

Gyroscopic, 360 degrees, reflective, reverberant, simultaneous. Heightens response of the ear (balance). Oral culture, myth, time as a cycle.


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