Welcome to the 'invisible environment'

Our culture, Marshall McLuhan tells us, constitutes an invisible environment. 'Fish don't see water, birds don't see air, and we don't see culture - not our own anyway.' Writes, psychologist Pamela Peck, echoing McLuhan's idea. Artists, tend to see through culture though, because culture isn't just the artist's natural habitat (like a fish in water) it is the environment they have created - culture is art, that has assimilated into everyday life. Art is powerful, therefore, as it acts in ways we are not aware of. We explore these ideas in much greater later, but for now, we must ask for your patience, because what we will show you may not be easy to 'see'. John Maynard Keynes, for instance, said only one in a million will understand, but we know this isn't the case. We know for a fact, that at least one in four can see (and understand the realities that are hidden from most); in fact, we believe that the majority can see (we can demonstrate this too) and we hope you will join us (and help us by supporting us through Patreon) as we continue to explore these ideas.

Exploring our culture's 'invisible environment'

Artists have long had the responsibility of watching over their communities; keeping an eye open (as it were) for dangers that are unseen by most. This was the inspiration for the 'Eyes Of Society' projects. The 'ReEncounter' artists, inspired by the Watchmen of Haida Gwaii (who are not only the guardians of culture but also the ones who, traditionally, 'kept watch for enemies approaching'*) realized that a parallel could be drawn between these 'Watchmen', and the artists in our larger society. Sometime the danger approaching might be visible to all, but often (the most dangerous) threats 'elude easy perception'; as Marshall McLuhan put it.

Why does McLuhan make this comparison in The Medium Is The Massage, between artists and poets, and the little boy at the parade – that 'anti-social brat' who declares 'The Emperor is wearing no clothes' ?

Why would artist and poets (Watchmen and women) see what others overlook (the world that is hidden in plain view, right before our eyes)? According to McLuhan, it's not just artists and poets who can see the 'invisible environment'. To perceive this hidden world though, a different way of seeing is called for; and social commentary may still be the most direct way, as Norman Bethune put it, 'to arouse the sleepers and shake the complacent pillars of the world'.

The 'countersituations' artists and poets create are not always immediately visible, and sometimes encounter staunch resistance; however, as in the story of the little boy at the parade, the spectator's eyes will eventually be opened. This, of course, is the 'moral of the tale'.

The reality of things, in the end, is inescapable.

The 'exploration' of our culture's 'invisible environments' will continue in the form of a monthly commentary. Please sign the mailing list request form below to receive these updates, and notification of future events.

Thank you.