Intermedia: The Future of Contemporary Art Practice?

Written by Arabella Bradley (@arabella_luisa)

Intermedia art is something I was slightly ignorant of before university. Obviously I was aware of the existence of performance art and interdisciplinary practises but I didn’t realise there was a category reserved purely for these types of artworks, or that a course of such a broad nature existed. Coming from a fine art background myself, studying art at A-Level in a place that told you painting was the only way to achieve the top grades, I struggled to find a discipline that I felt I fitted into (which was part of the reason I chose to study History of Art). My work consisted of a bit of everything: painting, drawing and textiles, or ‘mixed media’ as it was labelled by my tutors. Ultimately it was still within the realms of fine art, because it was entirely visual. Intermedia goes beyond that. It doesn’t just involve visual arts, which was why I was keen to find out more.

Artist Georgia Gardner is a first year student at Edinburgh College of Art; she chose intermedia as her discipline because she feels it is “unrestricting: it allows for multiple possibilities and paths to communicate the statement/question”. We discussed at length how the pressure to conform to one medium seems a bit outdated, which was when I began to question whether intermedia is the future of contemporary art practice. Whilst the more traditional fine art practises still play a part in intermedia, Georgia tells me that you can essentially do whatever you want, and that sounds very appealing to someone as indecisive as me.

17888707_1410169135708552_962205070_n  ‘Incoherent Narrative’. Multi-sensory immersive piece including drawing, film and spoken word performance. 

Georgia’s work spans everything from drawing to textiles, to spoken word and music. However, she doesn’t like to think of her work as containing these individual elements because when brought together in a piece, these multiple features are what makes the art what it is. For example in Georgia’s work her poems, or ‘posies’ as she refers to them, are not stand-alone pieces of writing; they often act as the starting point for a piece of work and are therefore deeply embedded in the piece, whether or not the outcome includes them visually or orally.

Process is important for Georgia, and it’s a key part of the practice of intermedia. Georgia doesn’t have a set process for creating. “It absolutely depends on the piece. Although I will usually have a general idea in mind, it is never set in stone. The development and experience of trying things is just as interesting and is often hugely influential to the outcome”. What motivates Georgia most to create is the support of her family, friends, and peers at ECA. “Being surrounded by so many like minded people is inspiring, you’re able to engage in conversation about work and share excitement”.

image  Georgia recording for a piece. 

To give you an idea of the nature of Georgia’s work, she explained her latest piece – ‘Cyclical Process of Intimacy – for me. The piece was based on the mundane nature of breathing, which may seem bizarre without explanation. But when you delve deeper into the concept behind the piece you can fully appreciate the lengthy process she went to in order to arrive at the final performance. The piece “explores our relationship with the planet, thinking about how it endures us rather than living with us. Everything we do manipulates the planet and vice versa. The performance tests my endurance through playing a 7 minute-long piece of music that I composed, which shows my physical strength deteriorating whilst at the same time becoming more and more part of the planet“.

17841795_1410169379041861_1541731285_n Image by Keziah MacNeill. From ‘Cyclical Process of Intimacy’; a performance piece in two parts (indoors and outdoors). 

Cynicism surrounding the practise of intermedia was something we discussed; people are quick to judge and claim that something is not art because it’s not a tangible object like a sculpture or a painting… but why not? Perhaps I’ll save the question for another post. If anything I think the complexity of the ideas behind conceptual art is often more awe-inspiring than seeing a perfectly executed perspectival drawing (no disrespect to all the architecture students out there).

With stigma to face such as this, can intermedia really be the future of contemporary art practice?

I doubt that all the painters, sculptors and photographers out there are suddenly going to change their direction, but intermedia practices – maybe even subconsciously – are creeping into many disciplines. This is most probably due to the desire to create new, hybridised outcomes that challenge traditional, single-medium results. During our discussion, we came to a conclusion that Georgia very eloquently voiced: “I think intermedia is definitely important to the art of the past, present and future; although there is not a direct window of what the future of art will look like, by looking at the way artists today attempt to create a shift in paradigm through manipulating multiple mediums and disciplines, I think it indicates that these discoveries and ideas are likely to be significant to the development of contemporary art.”

What do you think about intermedia art? Could it be it the future of contemporary art practise?

Find out more about Georgia’s work via

Facebook: GeorgiaGardnerArt

Instagram: @georgia.gardner.art

 

 

All images courtesy of Georgia Gardner.

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