McHale, John

Read here pertinent facts about someone whose work is critical to a proper comprehension of scale.


John McHale collaborated with Fuller in the late 1960's to produce a broad set of superscale surveys. These diagrams were unique in their scope and also the inclusion of humanity's sensory capabilities, or receptors, within the surveys themselves.

Selected Superscale Survey Diagrams

Below are some of the superscale diagrams that the McHales rendered for the World Design Science Decade series of publications.

Periodic Element Discovery Rate

Profile of the Industrial Revolution in terms of Periodic Element Discoveries, diagram by Fuller and McHale

World Population, Creatures and Plants

World Population of Mature Creatures and Plants, diagram by John McHale

Time of Activities

Time Spent in Various Activities, diagram by John McHale

Earth-Man Time Scale

Time Scale Earth-Man, diagram by John McHale

Element Abundance

Relative Abundance of Elements, diagram by John McHale

Man and EM Spectrum

Relationship of Man to Electromagnetic Spectrum, diagram by John McHale

Life of Products

Primary Useful life of Products, diagram by John McHale

Vertical Mobility

Man's Increasing Vertical mobility, diagram by John McHale

Man’s Ecological Sweep-out

Man’s Ecological Sweep-out, diagram by John McHale

Industrial Regenerative Cycle

Industrial Regenerative Cycle, diagram by John McHale

Earth’s Surface Per Capita

Earth’s Surface Per Capita, diagram by John McHale

Biography of John

John McHale (1922--1978) was an artist and sociologist. He was a founder member of the Institute of Contemporary Arts, and a founder of the Independent Group, which was a British movement that originated Pop Art which grew out of a fascination with American mass culture and post-WWII technologies.
John McHale coined the phrase 'pop art' and was an early and enduring advocate of Buckminster Fuller. McHale wrote about Fuller in Architectural Design, The Architectural Review, Arts Magazine and The New York Times.

Biography of Magda

Magda Mchale, born Lustigova to a prominent family of grain merchants in Hungary, Magda fled to Egypt and then Palestine as a refugee during World War II to escape Nazi persecution. Here, she found work as a translator for British intelligence and met her first husband, Frank Cordell, who was also working for British intelligence. According to British architect Peter Smithson, Magda was “a force who had the capacity to turn her willpower to anything.” After the war, Lustigova and Cordell returned to London, where they established an artistic atelier at 52 Cleveland Square in Paddington London, which they shared and artistically collaborated with the British Modern artist John McHale. She and her husband rapidly became an integral part of the avant-garde artistic milieu that congregated around the Institute of Contemporary Arts. They were actively involved in the Independent Group (IG) (1952–56), a cross-cultural discussion group that included artists, writers, architects and critics who rejected the traditional dichotomies of high and low culture. The IG challenged the official Modernist assumptions of British aesthetics and pioneered a progressive, interdisciplinary, consumer-based aesthetic of inclusiveness. The three artists collaborated on a variety of projects, and Magda McHale soon became indispensable to the activities of the IG for her writings as well as her archiving and organisation. She was closely involved with the exhibition This is Tomorrow at the Whitechapel Gallery in 1956, a multi-disciplinary show retrospectively credited with launching British Pop art.

The McHale/Cordell atelier occupied three floors in a large Georgian row house in Cleveland Square. Frank used the top floor with his piano and large windows overlooking the park as his music composing studio. John McHale occupied the large sky lit studio at the back of the atelier on the ground floor. Magda used the other large painting studio downstairs, which was also used by all three artist as a film studio. McHale used the downstairs film studio to produce his photograms for his Telemath collage series. There was also a separate downstairs workshop and photographic dark room. The living room on the ground floor was used for entertaining guests such as: Reyner Banham and other members of the ICA group, musicians, writers such as Eric Newby, dramatists such as Arnold Wesker, and international guests such as Buckminster Fuller, and Picasso's son, Paulo. Cordell made numerous tape recordings of Fuller.

Magda later recalled the significance of McHale’s return from his formative visit to America laden with imagery culled from American sources. “We all sat around on the floor for hours and looked through this unbelievable trunk of materials,” she said.
In 1961, Magda divorced Cordell and left for America with McHale, where they immersed themselves in academia. Encouraged by their dialogue with the American intellectual Buckminster Fuller, the McHales dedicated themselves to sociological research and published extensively on the impact of technology and culture, mass communications and the future. They moved from university to university propounding their ideas, teaching and publishing. During this time Magda published five books (three in collaboration with her husband) on future trends, and sat on numerous editorial boards.


McHale 1963. World Design Science Decade 1965-1975, Phase I 1963 Document 1 Inventory of World Resources Human Trends and Needs, World Resources Inventory, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois, USA, Research Professor R. Buckminster Fuller, Research Associate and Executive Director, Project John McHale. 120 pages. PDF version.
McHale 1965. World Design Science Decade 1965-1975, Phase I 1965 Document 4 The Ten Year Program, World Resources Inventory, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois, USA, by John McHale, 127 pages. PDF version.
McHale 1967. World Design Science Decade 1965-1975, Phase II 1967 Document 6 The Ecological Context: Energy and Materials, World Resources Inventory, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois, USA, by John McHale. 150 pages. PDF version.


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