The Interart/Intermedia conference took place on 12th and 13th April 2019 at Royal Holloway. It was organised by the Interdisciplinary Italy team and hosted some excellent speakers from the UK, Ireland, the US, Canada and Italy.
The conference focused on intermediality and interartistic practice in Italy. We looked at the way borders between the arts have been shifting over time, and why they shift. We explored creativity within borders and across a plurality of crossings. We discussed methodologies for dealing with hybrid art forms and looked at many and diverse examples and case studies: relationships between literature and film; photographs, performance and architecture in Rome; visual poetry; theatre and narrative and so on. While the majority of papers addressed the latter half of the 20th century and the 21st century, we also had some interesting papers addressing earlier interartistic practice from the Renaissance. The keynote speech was delivered by Prof Massimo Riva, from Brown University. Entitled ‘Virtual Heritage and Virtual Futures: Interart and Immersive Experiences’, it argued that attention must be focused on the ‘in-between of media’. Using some intriguing examples, he showed how, in the era of virtual reality and AI, experimental interart practice is ‘the informing principle of modern culture’. Prof Riva was a lively and stimulating interlocutor throughout the conference.
In the spirit of Pierre Levy’s collective intelligence, conference participants were active in pooling their multidisciplinary knowledge in order to get to grips with the complexity of intermedial and interartistic production. Thanks to the participants’ openness and creativity, the conference quickly became a lively forum for debate and a wonderful showcase for this young, emerging field in Italian Studies.
While it would be impossible to try to sum up the richness and diversity of the papers and discussion, some general points emerged: (1) while one shouldn’t overstate the role of technology, it’s clear that it must be a major player in discussions of interart/intermedia (2) engaging in intermedial research must lead to a questioning of our methods both of presenting research (typically presented verbally or through written speech) and teaching (3) that more research is needed in the pre-20th century, where intermedial and interartistic research is less well established (4) that we need to investigate the position of female artists and creative practioners in the increasingly technological field of contemporary interart/intermedia production.
The Interart/Intermedia conference falls under the umbrella of the Interdisciplinary Italy project, an AHRC-funded project which has been running since 2012. The project has organised 6 workshops (in London, Rome and New York), a graduate summer school (last year in Trinity, Dublin) and an exhibition at the Estorick gallery, as well as running the lively interdisciplinary Italy blog (www.interdisciplinaryitaly.org). We are grateful to the Society for Italian Studies for funding this event.
Dr Clodagh Brook