For a second time, York English Professor B.W. Powe, coordinator of the Creative Writing Program, is scholar/writer-in-residence at the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3) at the University of Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain.
Working with professors at IN3, Powe has brought his expertise on Marshall McLuhan to a new audience of students and receptive colleagues this summer. He is currently collaborating with artist and Professor Cristina de Miranda and technologist and Professor Matteo Ciastellardi at IN3 on the development and production of a g-book (g for generative) called Opening Time: On the Energy Threshold.
“Opening Time is an exploration into a new kind of presentation and experience through the development of a process-work that will only exist online,” says Powe. It will not be downloadable. Instead, “its life will be virtual”, he adds. The book, which Powe expects will be complete next summer, will combine text, images, platform design, links, poetry and scholarship. It will be interactive with images that move and shift, along with sound; all of it expanding the themes of the work.
“Those themes,” says Powe, “refer to how we are now on the energy threshold, in an age greater than the Renaissance, in which imagination, technology, spirituality, ideas, history, politics and culture fuse in full throttle, wild-fire combinations and reinventions.[…]So one aspect of Opening Time is observational, reflective, on the experience and expressions of our epoch.”
It also refers to the shift in consciousness patterns; how new technologies are changing the way people think, feel and experience things. But it will also explore closings – darkness, negativity, nihilism and cynicism.
The first presentation of Opening Time, a work in progress that will continue online in virtual space throughout the fall and winter terms, occurred during Powe’s most recent stay in Spain. It has enhanced and expanded the connection between York, the McLuhan Initiative, the Department of English, the Digital Culture Lab and digital humanities programs of IN3, which specializes in the investigation of the network society and the knowledge economy, as well as in the study of network technologies and specific areas of software.
“IN3 is a centre for McLuhan studies in Spain, and draws students from all around the world and operates in Catalan, Spanish and English,” says Powe, who also spoke on McLuhan at the Universidad Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona in a presentation titled “The Invisible School of Communications: Marshall McLuhan’s Vortex of Influence”.
Powe was scholar/writer-in-residence in the autumn of 2012, during which time he gave seminars on McLuhan. He also spoke at the University of Basque Country in Bilbao, Spain, on the influence of the global theatre, McLuhan and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.
It was during these two stays that Powe was able to work on and finish his forthcoming book, Marshall McLuhan and Northrop Frye–Apocalypse and Alchemy, to be published by the University of Toronto in 2014. Another forthcoming book, to be published in 2015 by Guernica Editions, will be Where Seas and Fables Meet, a book of aphorisms, fragments, parables, stories and thoughts.
Powe is the author of Towards a Canada of Light (Thomas Allen Publishers), first published in 1993 and then revised, expanded and updated with a new introduction, which was recently published in Dialogue Magazine. He is also the author of the novella These Shadows Remain: A Fable (Guernica Editions, 2011) and Mystic Trudeau: The Fire and the Rose (Thomas Allen Publishers, 2007), as well as The Unsaid Passing (Guernica Editions, 2006), a book of poems that was shortlisted for the ReLit Prize.
He is currently working on a new collection of poems, a selection of which will appear in an anthology published by NeoPoiesis Press.