Thoughts on Intermediality

Today’s class discussion got me thinking about intermediality not only in the 1890s, but also in postmodern 2020.

Intermediality refers to the point of intersection between/among different media. In relation to the 1890s, this means the interconnection between performance and print, which can look like anything from advertising and interviews to reviews and poems about art. Little magazines sought to cohesively unite and present a homogenized work that not only included both text and images, but had each mode of expression comment and reflexively engage with the other.

I would argue that this process is actually very post-modern and has become ingrained in the visual culture of 2020 that now relies on intertextual cues in things like film and television and on intermedial cues in conversation like memes or emojis. Superhero films like The Avengers have become increasingly popular in the past decade, and in each film, specific images and symbols are visually repeated so as to cue to the audience that something is important or a beloved figure is expected (ie. seeing Captain America’s shield before the character). These images are likewise found in digital conversation, where words are replaced with emoji symbols but expected to invoke the same sentiment, or when the digital term “lol” is said in real life.

Such intermediality pulls from the 1890s the kind of intersection between various forms of media that was so heavily criticized and rebelled against. It is interesting to note how far society has come that we no longer criticize this mode of expression, but actually rely upon it in everyday life.

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