Anne Wagner on Vito Acconci

According to Marshall McLuhan, understanding media means grasping that they force our sensory equipment to adapt to technological change. The process may be painful, but it is unavoidable nevertheless. To Acconci, however, this was less apparent. His performances in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s offer small dramas of the body’s failure to adjust. His narratives rehearse the gamut of his fears. As we now experience the recent stages of media transformations, it is worth returning to Acconci’s fears and numbness, as his adaptive failures may hold valuable insights about sensory experience in the present day.