WEEK 1 | Introductions: Origins, Aesthetics and Divergences of Intermedia and Multimedia

Welcome to The Intermedia and Multimedia Course. By the end of this course, you will have learned how to take a multimedia concept and push it further into a more woven intermedia work. You will create an intermedia video such as the video above with additional film background. Your video will be either character-based (fiction, poetry, etc.) or subject-based (journalism, essay, etc). You will know the essentials of using both Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Premiere Pro and will have access to further development through your lynda.com “textbook.” You will also learn which paid and creative commons resources will be helpful in your toolbox.

In this lesson, we will review a very brief history of intermedia and multimedia and then use what you already know about these forms, and probably didn’t know you knew, then push outside your current boundaries and into a creative space where you can develop innovative skill sets that will be useful for both your innovative work and also your traditional work.

Any students with advanced digital experience, please speak with me, individually, regarding independent projects that will utilize your advanced skill sets.


Origins of Intermedia & Multimedia

Intermedia, like the epic, is the oldest form of literature, predating 2000 B.C. The Epic of Gilgamesh, a Babylonian epic and earliest recorded narrative, used cuneiform language, wedge-shaped forms to create pictorials as meaning and narrative. Readers have been hard-wired for textual and visual interplay from the start of literature. 

Multimedia came later after written narratives turned from pictorials to the alphabetic system we use, today. Around 8th century B.C., the Phoenician’s maritime alphabet found its way to the Greeks, and the Greeks perfected it by adding vowels. Scrolls and eventually folios used text beside images (multimedia) and sometimes incorporated text and images more intimately as unified form (intermedia).

The defining points of intermedia and multimedia can sometimes be gray, but essentially, intermedia weaves individual media into dependent aesthetics. One cannot really exist without the other and still keep its current aesthetic. Multimedia essentially presents two media side by side. Each medium will inform the other, but each individual media can exist on its own without changing the overall aesthetic and effect of the individual work. For this reason, intermedia is often considered a far more complicated and nuanced art form. It is not merely placing text over visual art or adding audio to visual art, it requires working with the overall concept more deeply and in a layered narrative. If a writer/artist finds that an intermedia can easily be broken down into its individual media components, without losing meaning and aesthetic, then the intermedia hasn’t likely been fully explored or pushed to its better form yet.

In this course, we will read, view and define what intermedia and multimedia are, what they are not, and how they compare. We will also dig into the crafting tools of taking multimedia to the creative writing and fine art form of intermedia.

As a writer and reader, you come from a long tradition of text and visual artistry as intertwined and collaborative. We will revisit this organic foundation. We’ll explore it, develop it, critique it and learn how to leverage it within our crafts. We’ll show you how this form, though perhaps minimized or forgotten in your current writing, is in no way foreign to you.


Modern Intermedia & Multimedia: Dadaism, Fluxism, Hybrid & Redaction

Modern multimedia has turned to what NY media professionals call “new media.” The forms are strongly centered on visual images and video, and more importantly, social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Vine and many more social networking apps. Social networking is driving online sales and is here to stay. New social networking apps and services are popping up everyday. College graduates are entering the workforce with ready knowledge and skills in social media. Elementary and high school students are learning to read and navigate social media the way students once read teen magazines. Professional writers are being asked to form content so to leverage social media. Everyone now has Wiki IQs.

Information is a click away in textual, visual and video formats. Learning to navigate this high impact and fast-paced market is essential for all writers. In this journey, multimedia is a “step one” form. Most writers know how to add a photo to their story or article in Microsoft Word. This is multimedia. In this course, we’ll show you how to do this better and faster using Adobe Photoshop. We’ll also show you how to create a video clip to go with your article.

Modern intermedia is a hybrid form and what we call a “step two” form. It is more nuanced, layered and complex. To understand modern intermedia, it is important to understand where it emerged more recently, namely, the dadaists.

The dadaist movement, including Marcel Duchamp, began in Paris and influenced the expats, cubists and surrealists, such as Picasso, Salvador Dali and Man Ray. The dadaists were interested in counterculture and how it could push outside the boundaries of traditional artistic practices and critical theories. One infamous example of true Dada art is Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain (1917) (see above). Duchamp entered the urinal into a show as a joke, a prank meant to taunt his avant guard peers and comment on the show’s lack of juried panels. Learn more about Marcel Duchamp and his work in Making Sense of Marcel Duchamp

Dick Higgins
Dick Higgins

The dadaists, cubists, surrealists and their works made their way from Paris to New York, influencing what would become the 1960’s Fluxus Movement and Happenings, attributed in large part to such figures as Yoko Ono, John Cage and Dick Higgins, a New York writer, performance artist and counterculture activist. Today, Duchamp, Dali, Ray, Cage, Higgins and Yoko continue to leave their lasting influences on a diverse and vibrant community of writers, artists and composers in the New York City arts scene from Manhattan to Brooklyn. Though, this diversity in writing and art has made its way to the South and West Coast, the predominant focus remains in New York City, where the Fluxus movement and John Cage’s theory of indeterminacy, “the ability of a piece to be performed in substantially different ways” (Cage), are still integral foundations in teaching writing, art and music at The New School, New York University and Columbia University. Indeterminacy and modernist minimalism, in a large part, are what laid foundation for the postmodern and post-postmodern movements in literature and art. Intermedia in film and digital explorations is now arguably the cutting edges of writing and artistic practices globally. 

* Some venues and presses interested in hybrid and intermedia and open to newer writers/artists are Derangement of the Senses, Rue de Fleurus Salon, Three Rooms Press, Matter Press, Siglio Press, The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg ReviewPsychopomp and Diagram to name a few. Many literary journals are open to the concept of intermedia, but most publish very little intermedia and/or lack a depth of involvement and understanding in this aesthetic.


What Is the Difference Between Intermedia, Multimedia and Mixed Media?

When first exploring intermedia, many writers and artists will wonder what defines intermedia, multimedia and mixed media. Mixed media is a combination of different media within the same modality. For instance, paint and charcoal on a canvas, together, is mixed media. Paint and calligraphy (text) together on a canvas would be intermedia or multimedia depending upon the artistic depth and aesthetic. Multimedia includes everything from an online news article with short accompanying film or photograph to fine art presentations, and so literary writers and artists more intimately aware of the art movements and foundations will often refer to the fine art form as intermedia rather than multimedia. In this course, we make the distinction.


A Note on Robert Coover and Hypertext

You will probably recognize the name, Robert Coover, from your readings and/or previous course work. Robert Coover is a writer and professor at Brown University and is often accredited for hypertext, the practice of using links within text published online. As contemporary writers and readers we recognize hypertext/linking as a common publishing feature from The New York Times to The Paris Review to blogs. Now, an article published online would appear bare or even strange without a link or more embedded within the text, but this wasn’t always the case. 

Though Coover’s work in hypertext is memorable and interesting, it is predominantly textual and not a focus for the cutting edge artistic weavings of visual, musical and textual media found in the Fluxus and intermedia movements, which both predate and pushed far beyond Coover’s hypertext innovation. It is important to know that Coover contributed hypertext to the general postmodern era but he is not readily considered to be part of the Fluxus and intermedia movements, as hypertext alone and as Coover used it, was a purely structural device, not contextual such as one finds in Fluxus and intermedia. Since Coover’s first hypertext, many Fluxus and intermedia writers/artists have utilized the hypertext/linking device within their own intermedia aesthetics and credit Coover for this structural contribution.


Redaction Collage

It is important to note redaction as an important intermedia and innovative, hybrid form. Political redaction has been used by governments, agencies and lawmakers for centuries. Creative writers and artists have adopted the practice of redaction writing as a form of counterculture expression such as found in the Dada and Fluxus movements. Often, creative writers will choose seemingly banal and informational works as the foundational text, such as in Joseph A. W. Quintela’s “Terms of Use.” In “Terms of Use,” Quintela redacts Facebook’s Terms of Use as a socio-political comment on Facebook, its users and the online issues of sociability and privacy. In the above Eckleburg video, redaction was used to “white out” the face. This then allowed for diversity in character/subject. Redaction can come in many forms, when the writer “thinks outside the box.” We’re going to use both the redaction form and artistic collage form to create an intermedia “video collage” as our final portfolio project for this course.


Intermedia & Multimedia Reading/Viewing

EARLY DADISM: Making Sense of Marcel Duchamp

ORIGIN OF MODERN INTERMEDIADick Higgins: Obituary, New York Times

POLITICAL REDACTION: HYBRID FORMS AS ESSENTIAL PRACTICE: New York Times. “Redactions in U.S. Memo Leave Doubts on Data Surveillance Program,”

ARTISTIC REDACTION: “Terms of Use” by Joseph A. W. Quintela. The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review

INTERMEDIA/VISUAL TEXTUAL: Ogun Ofariogun. The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review

INTERMEDIA/FILM: “The Sounds of Darkness” by David LeGault. Diagram

INTERMEDIA/VISUAL TEXTUAL: Press Art. From the Collection of Annette and Peter Nobel. The Paris Review. #205, Summer 2013. (Above)



  • SYLLABUS: Syllabus: Intermedia Forms Intermedia and Multimedia: Fall 2015
  • READ: Above sections and linked information. 
  • COMPLETE: Complete your bio page by clicking the above MY PROFILE button and adding your information and headshot.
  • SUBSCRIBE: Adobe Photoshop Creative Cloud, Adobe Premiere Pro Creative Cloud, and Lynda.com
  • CREATIVE ASSIGNMENT: Find an example of an intermedia work at DIAGRAM and a multimedia work at The New York Times. Using Microsoft Word, recreate the DIAGRAM work as a multimedia. Using Microsoft Word, recreate the multimedia word as an intermedia. Bring hardcopies of your two recreations to class.



Below, in the comments section, explain briefly your experience with creating intermedia and multimedia in Microsoft Word. Was it liberating to change forms? Were there any frustrations? 



  • DUE DATE: The following class session. If you are being asked to bring hardcopies to class, as well as submit digitally to the forums, DO NOT forget your hardcopies for class. Forgetting your hardcopies will create a serious problem and performance issue for you in class. It will create an issue for your peers. Having digital copies on campus will not be suitable.
  • CONTACT: Please make sure to contact me directly with any questions regarding assignments and technology. rae@raebryant.com. The fastest way to reach me is by text at 301-514-2380. The below question/discussion area is  for student and lesson interaction. I won’t be checking it everyday. There is also a FAQs section that covers a good deal of information.