Planet as art-form before the satellite

McLuhan frequently attributed to satellites the translation of the physical environment of the earth into an art-form:

The McLuhan DEW-LINE, 1:5, November 1968
From the first moment of the satellite [in 1957], the earth ceased to be the human “environment”. Satellites automatically enclose the old Darwinian “Nature” environment by putting the planet inside a man-made environment. They are just as much an extension of the planet as is clothing an extension of the skin.

But he himself had seen this transformation before the satellite:

modern technology is so comprehensive that it has abolished Nature(The God-Making Machines of the Modern World, Commonweal, March 19, 1954) Culture Without Literacy, 19531
But the fact that with with modern technology the entire material of the globe as well as the thoughts and feelings of its human inhabitants have become the matter of art and of man’s factive intelligence means that there is no more nature. At least there is no more external nature. Everything from politics to bottle-feeding (…) is subject to the manipulation of conscious artistic control.

The God-Making Machines of the Modern World2
modern technology is so comprehensive that it has abolished Nature

Notes on the Media as Art Forms, 19543
technology has abolished ‘nature’ in the old sense and brought the globe within the scope of art…

Radio and Television vs. The ABCED-Minded, 1955
Today, a new technology of great delicacy and precision has created an image of ourselves which invites us to swallow nature. The gap between man and the world, [between] art and nature, has been abolished. 

Nihilism Exposed, 19554
And now in the twentieth century when nature has been abolished by art and engineering, when government has become entertainment and entertainment has become the art of government, now the gnostic and neo-Platonist and Buddhist can gloat: “I told you so! This gimcrack mechanism is all that there ever was in the illusion of human existence.”


  1. In Explorations 1.
  2. Commonweal, March 19, 1954.
  3. In Explorations 2.
  4. In Renascence, 8, Winter 1955.