In 1964 Marshall McLuhan wrote of the photograph as “the brothel without walls” just one year after creating a center for culture and technology at the University of Toronto, where he was a professor for over 30 years. McLuhan described photographs as “dreams that money can buy” which could be “hugged and thumbed more easily than public prostitutes.” The exhibition The Brothel Without Walls considers McLuhan’s metaphor within today’s global village, where it appears that the illusions images create are often preferable to reality.
McLuhan famously proclaimed, “the medium is the message”; in other words, the scope of a medium’s effect on human affairs is a result of how it functions as an extension of ourselves, and the change that it provokes. The advent of television and its subsequent domination over printed forms of communication, the shift from analogue to digital photography and the increasing popularity of image repositories on the Internet are all part of the pressures reshaping photography’s influence today.
Curated by Matthew Brower and Bonnie Rubenstein.
Presented in partnership with the University of Toronto Art Centre.