Intermedia are interdisciplinary art forms that fuse two or more genres into one work. Both intermedia and multimedia pieces mix visual, sound, performance and digital art into one piece. However, multimedia pieces juxtapose various mediums whereas intermedial pieces seek to “become new medium[s]” (241). Ultimately, when seeking to define “intermedia,” it’s helpful to remember its roots in Fluxus, an art movement that championed experimentation and a lack of fixity to preconceived. Like Fluxus, the word “intermedia” resists a fixed meaning.
In 1965, Dick Higgins, founder of Fluxus and the Something Else Press, coined the term “intermedia” to describe fusions between art forms that he both witnessed and created during the 1960s. The “spirit of play” and “experimentalism” were particularly important concepts to Higgins and other members of the Fluxus movement. This willingness to play with the boundaries of genre is integral to the creation of intermedia art: “virtually all Fluxus works are intermedial by their very nature: visual poetry, poetic visions, action music and musical actions, Happenings, and events that are bounded, conceptually, by music, literature, and visual art, and whose heart lies in the midground among these” (97). For example, Marta Minujin’s La Menesunda (1965), is an immersive space that blends performance art, video montage, painting, sculpture and sound to create a multisensory experience that recreates the sensation of being on the frenetic streets of Buenos Aires.
In the 1980s, a hypertext project designed at Brown University was named “Intermedia.” (The project lost funding and therefore momentum in 1991.) Perhaps due to the influence of this hypertext project or perhaps due to the increasingly digitized world, the digital has become integral to conceptualizing and creating intermedial art. As of 2019, over 100 art schools worldwide offer intermedia as a discipline with a digital emphasis.
Higgins, Dick. “Fluxus: Theory and Reception.” Intermedia, Fluxus and the Something Else Press: Selected Writings by Dick Higgins. 88-114.
Higgins, Dick. “Some Poetry Intermedia.” Intermedia, Fluxus and the Something Else Press: Selected Writings by Dick Higgins. 240-241.