(in homage to McLuhan’s DEW Line playing cards c. 1969)
<RCID 812 seminar tell/e-gram – by Cynthia Haynes>
Forty years ago this month, in November 1969, Marshall McLuhan adopted as metaphor a ‘line’ from the cold war—he re-materialized the DEW line as artistic practice. The DEW line, short for Distant Early Warning system, consisted of a chain of 63 radar and communication stations stretching 3000 miles across Arctic Canada at the 69th parallel. It was completed in 1957 during the height of the cold war. “The DEW line became a perfect metaphor for McLuhan on the role of art and the artist at a time of rapid technological and social change” (Kuskis) According to McLuhan, “I think of art, at its most significant, as a DEW line, a Distant Early Warning system that can always be relied on to tell the old culture what is beginning to happen to it” (Understanding Media; Kuskis).
In McLuhan and Baudrillard: The Masters of Implosion (Routledge 1999), Gary Genosko remarks in an end note that Marshall McLuhan’s Dew-Line Newsletters (published between 1968-70) were often accompanied by supplementary materials such as posters, slides, or playing cards (15; see also Trexler). As a complement to McLuhan’s Dew-Line cards (issued with the Nov-Dec 1969 newsletter), students in the RCID 812 seminar on “Cultural Critiques of Mechanical Reproductions” have created a series of Baudrillard “DEW Line” cards to be randomly applied to a critical/cultural/economic/ethico-political problem in the manner McLuhan envisioned playing with his cards.
According to Genosko, the cards served as a “brainstorming device. Each card contained an aphorism in relation to which problems could be discussed, stormed, bounced off, etc.” (15). Given the nomination of Baudrillard as the “French McLuhan,” it is time to play the game of post-cold-war techno/shuffling and deal the Baudrillard cards to the RCID blog . . . one at a time. Here is our first card in the series. What problems do you think it suggests?
[image remix by Curtis Newbold and Sergio Figueiredo] . . .
Genosko, Gary. McLuhan and Baudrillard: The Masters of Implosion. London: Routledge, 1999.
Kuskis, Alex. “The Distant Early Warning (DEW) Card Deck (1969)” McLuhan.ca Global Research Network (3 Nov 2009).
Trexler, Jeff. McLuhan DEW Line playing cards. 2006. (3 Nov 2009).