Indexing Vancouver: Image Bank’s International Image Exchange Directory


The Image Bank International Image Exchange Directory claims to have been published by Talonbooks in 1972, but it does not feature in histories of that quintessential west coast press. As a response to this absence, this article explores the intermedial practices and social scenes surrounding the press, Vancouver’s Intermedia Society (1967-1972), and related sites where the city’s countercultures and neo-avant-garde came into contact. A visual analysis of two photographic images printed in the Directory, one urban, one rural, reveals a social imaginary for Vancouver in which the city flips into different registers of semiotic coding at local, national and transnational levels. The city features in the imaginary geographies of a neo-avant-garde interested in the psychological and cultural impact of media technologies, as per Marshall McLuhan’s “global village,” of transnational media space. Conversely, given a context of post-Centennial cultural nationalism, the Directory also indexes the city within a counter-environment where a utopian state of queer futurity could thrive.

This article “Indexing Vancouver: Image Bank’s International Image Exchange Directory” originally appeared in Concepts of Vancouver: Poetics, Art, Media Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 235 (Winter 2017): 51-69.

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