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Intermedia

From Academic Kids

Intermedia was a concept employed in the mid-sixties by Fluxus artist Dick Higgins to describe the ineffable, often confusing, inter-disciplinary activities that occur between genres that became prevalent in the 1960s. Thus, the areas such as those between drawing and poetry, or between painting and theater could be described as intermedia. With repeated occurrences, these new genres between genres could develop their own names (i.e. visual poetry or performance art.)

Higgins described the tendency of the most interesting and best in the new art to cross the boundaries of recognized media or even to fuse the boundaries of art with media that had not previously been considered art forms, including computers. With characteristic modesty, he often noted that Samuel Taylor Coleridge had first used the term.

In 1968, Hans Breder founded the first university program in the United States to offer an M.F.A. in intermedia. The Intermedia program at the University of Iowa graduated artists such as Ana Mendieta and Charles Ray. In addition, the program developed a substantial visiting artist tradition, bringing artists such as Dick Higgins, Vito Acconci, Allan Kaprow, Karen Finley, Robert Wilson and others to work directly with Intermedia students.


Intermedia was also the name of the third notable hypertext project to emerge from Brown University, after HES (1967) and FRESS (1969). Intermedia was started in 1985 by Norman Meyrowitz, who had been associated with earlier hypertext research at Brown. The Intermedia project coincided with the establishment of the Institute for Research in Information and Scholarship (IRIS).

Intermedia ran on A/UX version 1.1. Intermedia was programmed using an object-oriented toolkit and standard DBMS functions. Intermedia supported bi-directional, dual-anchor links for both text and graphics. Small icons are used as anchor markers. Intermedia properties include author, creation date, title, and keywords. Link information is stored by the system apart from the source text. More than one such set of data can be kept, which allows each user to have their own "web" of information. Intermedia has complete multi-user support, with three levels of access rights: read, write, and annotate, which is similar to Unix permissions.

As promising as Intermedia was, it used a lot of resources for its time (it required 4 MB of RAM and 80 MB of hard drive space in 1989). It was also highly tied to A/UX, a less popular Unix-like operating system that ran on Apple Macintosh computers; thus, it wasn't very portable. In 1991, changes in A/UX and lack of funding ended the Intermedia project.pl:Intermedia

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