The Medium is the Message


Residences in Da Nang, Vietnam

Residences in Da Nang, Vietnam

"The Medium is the Message" was a statement by Marshall McLuhan (appearing in  his widely known book, "Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man", published in 1964), meaning that the form of a message (print, visual, musical, etc.) determines the ways in which that message will be perceived. McLuhan argued that modern electronic communications (including radio, television, films and computers) would have far-reaching sociological, aesthetic and philosophical consequences, to the point of actually altering the ways in which we experience the world.

Discounting the work of street artists and the phenomenon of graffiti, I have begun to amass a collection of images of walls ,from my experience living and traveling in Asia. The majority of these images are mainly from China and Vietnam.  The walls, although not considered a form of media like painting or sculpture, advertising or TV become a kind of imitation (or parody) of these more familiar forms of media. So that, to me, when they have been photographed they seem to embody the spirit of McLuhan's theory. The photographs themselves are the medium - yet so too are these walls in their own right.

What makes photography so exciting for me- is it's ability to adapt and change along with us, as we strive to record our experiences and hold up a mirror to our humanity, society and culture. Just as the walls, whether through long periods of time, modification, erosion or attrition (or within a fleeting moment as a shadow passes over them, thereby completing a tableau of change), communicate their quiet message, so too does the act of photographing and sharing them. Change can be incremental and the effects of it often overlooked or ignored until its results are suddenly revealed before us.