A Field Trip to the Exhibit – Feedback 4: Marshall McLuhan and the Arts

Alethea Song
Windsor Law, Copyright Law Course Student
J.D., 2020


Going on field trips is not common in law school; however, on Tuesday March 5, 2019, Professor Pascale Chapdelaine’s Copyright Law class was able to go on a cross-border expedition to experience Feedback 4: Marshall McLuhan and the Arts,” including a guided tour from Professor Michael Darroch (University of Windsor, School of Creative Arts). The exhibition is the fourth installation of this cross-border series. Its first presentation was held at The Hague in 2017. Marshall McLuhan was an academic, an historian, a professor, and a communications theorist.[1] Although his ideas about communication and mass media may have seemed outlandish to some, he was seen as a visionary to many others. While his ideas were popularized in the 60s, his approach to media still holds many truths in today’s world of technology and media, which was the inspiration behind the artists of the exhibitions and their works. 

“Free Texts 2014-2019 (ongoing) tear-off advertising for online text resources” by Stephanie Syjuco

The first part of the exhibit took place at the University of Windsor’s School of Creative Arts (SOCA), while the second part of the exhibit took place at the College for Creative Studies (CCS) in Detroit, Michigan. As our class gathered in anticipation to commence our experiential learning expedition, I couldn’t help but notice all of the different installations that were crammed into the presentation space. Just like our everyday experiences of being bombarded by various forms of media, I was unsure of where to start until I noticed what looked like a screening of a videogame. This instillation was, “The Council on Gender Sensitivity and behavioral awareness in World of Warcraft: We Actually Met in World of Warcraft” by Angela Washko. As the title suggests, this installation was a replay of encounters that the artist had with real players in the popular videogame, World of Warcraft. It was interesting to watch conversations within the game unfold, with Washko asking players why they chose to be female avatars, and how the game-space may be used to perpetuate misogyny and oppressive views of women. Like many other pieces within this exhibit, artists were making connections between the messages they conveyed and the medium in which they were being conveyed. 

“The Council on Gender Sensitivity and behavioral awareness in World of Warcraft: We Actually Met in World of Warcraft” by Angela Washko

The second exhibit took place at CCS and featured some of the same installations that were featured in the Windsor exhibit. One of the main differences between the two exhibitions was the physical space itself. The CCS was originally General Motors’ first research and design studio[2], which meant that the open-concept space allowed for installations to be displayed on a larger scale without encroaching on another installation’s space. The larger space allowed for more visual flow between each installation in comparison to the Windsor exhibit. However, as pointed out by some of my colleagues, the downside of having such an open and expansive space meant that all of the sounds emitting from the installations started to blend into each other. As my peers and I tried to discern which sounds belonged to which installations, it occurred to me that this may have been a deliberate choice made by the curators in order to analogize yet again, the bombardment of media that we face on a daily basis through sounds.

Panorama view of the CCS exhibit

Another difference between the two exhibits was the emphasis that the Detroit exhibit had on warfare. With Richard Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” playing in the background of the dimly-lit exhibition space, a single name was projected onto a screen. Projected adjacent to this screen was the picture of a boy, accompanied by information pertaining to his death provided by Airwars. Airwars is a not-for-profit project that tracks the effects that international military action has on conflict zones such as Iraq, Syria and Libya.[3]This powerful installation is “Complex and Consequential Data” by Lizzie Malcome and Dan Powers. A great observation made by my colleague, Ilia Sumner, was that although there was a focus on warfare in the Detroit exhibit, Windsor’s SOCA was originally the Windsor Armoury. Having the warfare installations exhibited in the Armoury could have been an opportunity to connect the art with the physical space in which they were presented.  

Although this was a refreshing break from routine, there was an educational purpose behind the excursion. Students will write a short paper to make further connections between what we experienced at these educational institutions and copyright law. Students may either write a legal memo regarding the best practices that need to be taken into consideration when preparing and holding exhibits, or write a legal essay identifying specific topics in copyright law and how particular pieces and themes from the exhibit relate to the law. Attending these exhibits in person has already had an impact on my level of engagement with this assignment and I believe this experience will continue to leave an impression on me throughout the course. 

As a 2L student, this class excursion to the exhibits was the first time I experienced learning outside of the classroom during my time in law school. While field trips are not common in law school, I really enjoyed this experiential learning opportunity and I truly believe that we need more hands-on learning in law school. As an Ontario Certified Teacher myself, it is common knowledge amongst teachers that students learn best when Howard Gardiner’s Multiple Intelligencesare fully engaged in the learning process. Through this experience, Professor Chapdelaine was able to engage visual, auditory, musical, and physical learning styles. I was highly engaged with the material that was being presented at the exhibits and am able to apply what I learned to the field of copyright law because I was fully immersed in the learning experience. Overall, the visit to the exhibitions was a success: students were given an opportunity to apply copyright law to real-world settings, we were able to engage multiple senses throughout the learning process, and no one forgot to bring their passports to cross the border! This is why I want to thank Professor Chapdelaine for organizing this amazing opportunity for our class, as well as Professor Darroch for delivering such an informative and engaging guided tour. 


[1]FrankZingrone, “Marshall McLuhan”,online: The Canadian Encyclopedia <https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/herbert-marshall-mcluhan>.
[2]“About Us”, online: The College for Creative Studies <https://www.collegeforcreativestudies.edu/about-us/history>.
[3]“Who We Are”, online: Airwars <https://airwars.org/about/team/>.[









SHARE

Comments are closed.