Intermediality: An Introduction to the Arts of Transmission


Intermediality has become a fashionable concept: it appears whenever we speak about what we once referred to easily as the medium or media, of systems and apparatuses, mises en scène and structures. It is used frequently in a number of different traditions, whether European, American or Australian. In some cases it holds the potential to redefine the purpose of an art or a specific medium. Consider the example that cinema provides: “its medium-specific possibility seems to have been well and truly overrun by its tendency to intermediality, its fundamental impurity. That is where its true materiality-effect, today, is situated: in the palpable aura of a mise en scène that is always less than itself and more than itself, not only itself but also its contrary, ever vanishing and yet ever renewed across a thousand and one screens, platforms and dispositifs” (Martin). But it’s important not to reduce intermediality to a simple intersection of mediums or media: “intermediality […] refers to more than simply the sheer fact of a multimedia culture, or the mixing and copresence of many media forms within specific works” (Martin). In this way, theater, according to Kattenbelt, bears “a distinctive capacity to be a hypermedium which ‘stages’ other mediums” (37). Every art or media thus seems to find its means in other arts and media, unsettling the expected borders between them.

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