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Spring 2008

| v.04 n.01|

Posted: March 11, 2008


Originally associated with Fluxus, and used by Fluxus artist Dick Higgins in the 1960s to describe interdisciplinary art forms and practices, the term Intermedia appears to have resurfaced now with new impetus, as a way to talk about contemporary practices beyond New Media. This edition explores the resurfacing of the term, and its new usage.

There is no dictionary definition for Intermedia. The word "intermediate" meaning: "being or occurring at the middle place or between extremes" (Merriam Webster Online), has an interestingly dissimilar meaning. Intermedia is now being used to describe practices that, by contrast, can spread out in many directions; network-like, forming connections that create new entities rather than simply gluing existing things together or finding the middle ground. Its current usage seems to have a dynamic property, permitting overlapping boundaries, inclusiveness, integration and hybridization, and a state of evolution, not fixity.

While New Media focused on the experimental use of computing in art practice, Intermedia is becoming a more widely used term for defining something beyond New Media, but evolving out of it. It refers to the inclusion or merging of New Media with other, relatively more established (often physical) media, such as a merging of digital, interactive or network based practice with the more traditional practices of sculpture, installation, video, performance, dance, music, etc. in new hybrids. Intermedia does not emphasize any one form or medium; rather it describes a multiplicity of possible cohabiting methods or practices: physical/virtual, linear/non-linear, and various manifestations of interactivity. Because of this, these hybrids created from Intermedia practice present conceptual and physical experiments that push beyond the limits of media definition. Intermedia itself becomes the thrust, emphasizing collaborative/integrated practice over product or object. As such, there is no hierarchy or absolute method. Intermedia does not attach to any one practice, and with the inclusion of New Media, a more dynamic and shape-shifting art than ever before is made possible.

This edition does not attempt to define the term, but rather to ask those who use it what it means to them. Anna Byzsksi explores the historical and contemporary taxonomy of art terms and media types (such as ancient, modern, new, inter, trans, etc.) and discusses where Intermedia is located within this taxonomy. She argues for the flawed nature of all media-specific categorization within art practice, suggesting that contemporary practice is ahead of this terminology. She posits the idea of transcending media definitions in future discourse.

Jon Winet outlines the conceptual principles of Intermedia and describes its practical application within an institutional framework as a graduate (MFA) program within the School of Art & Art History at the University of Iowa. Hans Breder created the first Intermedia Program at the University of Iowa' School of Art and Art History in 1968, so the school has a long history with Intermedia definitions and practice.

Daria Tsoupikova describes her VR project, Rutopia 2 as an Intermedia convergence of real and virtual world experience, integrating traditional folk-art forms with new technology.

Through their Toolbox of Intermedia Terms, Paul Hertz and Jack Ox outline a system of equivalences for understanding and describing the structures and patterns in diverse artworks that unify them formally, irrespective of media specificity. They apply their Intermedia Toolbox system to both historical and contemporary examples, finding equivalency or correspondence that they describe as Intermedia practice.

We'd like to thank our contributors and hope this edition adds to the understanding and evolution of Intermedia. Perhaps we should consider changing our name to Intermedia-N!


Rachel Clarke, Editor-in-Chief, media-N

Please also check out our Call for Papers link.


New Media, Old Media, Inter-Media, Trans-Media: A Historic Perspective
by Anna Brzyski

Intermedia @ IOWA (a conversation in progress)
by Jon Winet

Aesthetics as a Tool: the Resurgence in Virtual Reality
by Daria Tsoupikova

Intermedia Patterns: Notes for Building a Toolkit
by Paul Hertz and Jack Ox

Conference Review

Beyond Boundaries, Digital Change and Revolution: iDMAa Conference, November 8-10, 2007
by Rebecca Gallagher


Science Museum or Gate to Expanded Perceptions: Conversation with Kurt Hentschlager
by Nevena Ivanova