Origins of Intermedia
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). 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.
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. In this lesson, we introduce the concept of intermedia and explore it through a hands on project.
* Some venues and presses interested in 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 Review, Psychopomp 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. 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 art form as intermedia rather than multimedia.
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 is 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.
If you are not already familiar with visual and film editing software programs and have favorite programs you feel confident using autonomously, then for this lesson, please create a hard copy intermedia as outlined below. Anyone who wishes to further explore visual and film editing software may register for The Intermedia Workshop, link below.
Intermedia Reading/Viewing Assignments
*You’ll notice that a few of these have already been embedded in the above reading.
EARLY DADISM: Making Sense of Marcel Duchamp
ORIGIN OF INTERMEDIA: Dick Higgins: Obituary, New York Times
POLITICAL REDACTION: New York Times. “Redactions in U.S. Memo Leave Doubts on Data Surveillance Program,”
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)
This week, you will create an intermedia either by hand or digitally, whichever is most comfortable to you. If you are comfortable with Photoshop or any other visual or film editing software programs, feel free to utilize this media; however, if digital and/or film editing is not a familiar skill set for you, please create your intermedia by hand, following the steps below. In this case, you may use a canvas, cardboard or any other firm “canvas” that you wish; however, make sure it is small enough that you can scan it or take a picture and post it to the below comments. Follow the below steps and use the above examples as a guide, though, again, feel free to do something completely your own if you prefer and are already comfortable with visual and/or film editing software. (I regret that we don’t have time to do a full intermedia course within this Hybrid course. Anyone interested in further instruction regarding digital and film intermedia, please feel free to join The Intermedia Course for free. The course is free for students of this course and will focus on visual and textual intermedia and digital editing programs. Just use your Hopkins coupon code from our first lesson.)
- On one of your copies, use a black marker to cross out words and form your own prose or poetry. Begin with the first sentence and choose the words the stick out most to you. Black out words so that the “important words” stand out. Begin forming your own sentences and/or lines. There must be at least five words left that are not redacted, but other than that, feel free to redact as much of the original text as you wish.
- Choose another source, this one with images. This could be a magazine or newspaper, anything. Don’t worry about copyright because you are only going to use pieces of each image. Cut the images out so that you have several smaller images to work with in collage form. As you choose your images, you could choose them based on similar themes or include many different themes. You could choose images of animals or people, farm equipment, sports equipment, vehicles, etc. Whatever suits you.
- On your “canvas,” create a “redacted collage” intermedia. Feel free to cut the redacted text into sections. Place the images over the redacted, blacked out text, around the text, woven into the text… however you like.
- Upload a scanned or photographed file of your redacted collage intermedia to this page.
Below, explain briefly how your chosen text and chosen images generally compare and contrast. What do their juxtapositions on a single canvas mean to you? How will your intermedia allow viewers/readers to form their own reactions to the text, images and their juxtapositions?
- INTERMEDIA 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.
- IMAGES: Images should be uploaded in jpeg, png or pdf format. For more information regarding uploading images to the forums, check out our FAQs. If you do not have a favorite image editing software that you already use, check out the easy, intuitive and free Pixlr. I use Adobe Photoshop Pro version; however, the pro version can be a bit much for new users and the online version of Adobe Photoshop doesn’t offer all the editing tools we need for this course. Within the Pixlr program, there is a Pixlr Help Menu. If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m happy to help.
- CONTACT: Please make sure to contact me directly with any questions regarding assignments and technology. firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.