Alum Rita Leistner GS'01 presents her project Looking for Marshall McLuhan in Afghanistan.
In 2011, Rita Leistner embedded with U.S. Marines in Afghanistan as a team member of the experimental social media initiative Basetrack, which used social media and smartphones to report on the war. That experience was the jumping off point for her book, Looking for Marshall McLuhan in Afghanistan, which Leistner wrote as a reaction to the clash of technologies playing out in the theatres of war and beyond, inspired by Marshall McLuhan’s most famous aphorism—”The medium is the message.”
This exhibition is an extension of a key concept of the book: that the retro apps in smartphones are a symptom of our yearning for historical permanence and human connection in an increasingly digitized, remote-controlled world.
Leistner teams-up with Canadian Master Printer Bob Carnie, assisted by Paulette Michayluk, to create a series of monotypes in palladium with applied pigment—the most permanent color process known.
The experience of the exhibition, which also includes text panels from the book and a series of “didactic panels” that illustrate the process from smartphone to palladium, is like walking through Leistner’s own journey of process and discovery about communication, photography, technology, and war.