Characteristics of intermedia art and new media art

A typical feature of one category of new media – intermedia – is the diversion of traditional forms such as painting, sculpture, drawing and graphics (Štofko, 2007, p. 123). The first important initiatory moments of intermedia appeared in the avant-garde in the early 20th century. This was particularly Cubist collage as the definition against the classical painter’s picture format, then the performances and events of Dadaists extending the non-static performative component beyond art, and Marcel Duchamp’s readymades. Those were “let into” the realm of art object categories – three-dimensional media, built on different principles, possessed by then traditional sculpture. Later avant-garde movements in the 1960s, particularly New Realism and Fluxus, completed the process of classifying intermedia into the morphology of fine arts. The term “intermedia” was used for the first time in 1965 by the poet and composer Dick Higgins, a member of the Fluxus movement, in order to define the activities of its members. Fluxus is an international movement (especially in the 1960s) comprised of a group of visual artists, writers, performers, experimental musicians, dancers and designers. The most important principles of the projects and events of Fluxus artists are so-called anti-commercial, the emphasis on experiment and circumventing conventions as the main strategies for developing and applying ideas, so-called total art, the state where all the arts and the boundaries between art and common reality cease to exist (Foster – Krauss – Bois – Buchloh, 2007, p. 456-463). The production of artists from these movements had a hybrid character not given only by the feature that stood out from traditional media formats, but at the same time the linked elements of music, theater, film and poetry. Currently, the term intermedia summarizes two main categories: static intermedia – mainly installations, objects, site-specific art, environment, all forms of kinetic objects and installations as well as so-called action intermedia – performances, events and happenings including their documentation. Intermedia can also include works of conceptual art.
In Slovak art the term intermedia (intermedia arts) began to be exercised more in the early 1990s. Its intensive use is directly related to the then expanding spatial media (objects, installations, site-specific art) and with the penetration of the media based on flowing time and images (video art, video installations). It took a long time to start separating the term intermedia in Slovak visual art and intermedia art from the term multimedia, with which it was frequently identified. Multimedia, such as electronic media based on interactive communication belongs to new media, to which also belongs intermedia art – installations and objects as well as their various fusions with technical images and eventually even video-art itself. What is important is the difference between intermedia and multimedia, which lies in the fact that while the first form is essentially static (not able to update in space-time), multimedia is, on the contrary, capable as it is essentially virtual, and that is why it’s possible for “their used media to digitally synthesize, modify, transform, transpose, combine in different ways, and in these processes possibly use subsequent blending and re-timing” (Štofko, 2007, p. 123). The separation of these terms accelerated the development of techniques and technologies that fundamentally determine the nature of multimedia art.
Currently, the term multimedia, whose application in our environment (especially in the 1990s) appeared as a logical step marking the intermedia category, which integrated technical (analog, then digital) images as well as sound, and was generated based on the software, seems to be overcome (Rusnáková, 2006, p. 19-26, Rusnáková, 2011, p. 20-25, Murin, 2012, p. 101-103). In our text, we will work with the terms new media, new media art, or media arts instead of the terms multimedia and multimedia art along with the term intermedia. New media is founded on technique and technology (in particular electronic, currently digital media), while integrating the element of interactivity and new ways of media communication (Štofko, 2007, p. 195-197).
The concept of new media, despite its (now undeniable) generalizing character, also covers the category of intermedia as one of the earliest forms and currently belongs to the area of digital arts, in particular interactive art, net-art, sound art, digital video art and participatory digital art. The following text is only marginally concerned with video media (digitally generated, analog in the past) – the points of contact with them mainly video installations and video objects. Video art (especially in the form of autonomous video) as part of new media is the most strongly represented in the creation of current artists, but describing its history and specifics goes beyond the scope of the text.