The “new level” of art

A 2012 film Nema Aviona za Zagreb (No Flights to Zagreb) by Louis van Gasteren includes a scene shot in 1964 in which McLuhan opens an art exhibit in Toronto of ‘New Style Painting’. Some work by van Gasteren was included in the exhibit. A blurb for the film informs that “van Gasteren began filming Nema Aviona in 1964 but did not complete it until 2012, making it the longest film in production of all time.” Further: “The film includes the only professional color sound motion picture footage ever filmed of Meher Baba.”

McLuhan’s remarks in the film were featured on the cover of Tele-Creation, Auto-Sculpture by Louis van Gasteren, the catalogue for a 1964 exhibition of van Gasteren’s work at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

In the film, McLuhan stands in an elevator before television cameras and says:

Painting now moves from representation to a direct encounter with the environment. And this involves a certain amount of violence. The artist thereby helps us to a new discovery of identity by this means. When the new electric environment goes around the old mechanical one, the old mechanical environment, the road, the car, the auto, these forms become art forms. Just as when satellites go around the planet, the planet itself becomes an art form, in fact ceases to be nature in the old sense at all. I now declare this exhibition open — and I am going to move on to another level.

The elevator door then closes on McLuhan: he is indeed moving on to ‘another level’, leaving the exhibit to the crowd.