Adaptation and Convergence of Media. ‘High’ Culture Intermediality versus Popular Culture Intermediality, in Leonardo Book Reviews

A review of our latest book, Adaptation and Convergence of Media. ‘High’ Culture Intermediality versus Popular Culture Intermediality, edited by Lily Díaz, Magda Dragu, Leena Eilitta, Aalto ARTS Books 2018 was published in Leonardo Book Reviews, October 2019.

“One can only welcome the decision of the editorial team to reopen the aesthetic discussion on intermediality and to broaden the purely mediatic and/or semiotic study of intermediality in light of Dick Higgins’s critical and artistic work on “intermedia”, a notion coined by this Fluxus artist and theoretician in 1966 –at a moment when the critical discourse on media issues was still strongly dominated by Clement Greenberg’s Modernist belief in medium specificity. As the introduction by Magda Dragu and the first chapter by Ken Friedman and Lily Díaz, both superbly written and based on an excellent, although narrowly Anglo-Saxon and German literature review, help understand, it makes much sense to go beyond the formalist point of view and to tackle media issues in historical, political, and artistic terms as well. The enlarged historical and cultural frame is then illustrated with the help of 11 case studies, which are all the more stimulating since they present and analyze work from less known cultural traditions and languages (Scandinavia, Eastern Europe)…” Jan Baetens, Professor of Literary Theory and Cultural Studies, KU Leuven.


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The book edited by Lily Díaz, Magda Dragu, Leena Eilitta, proposes that intermedia is a gathering of combinatorial possibilities and hybridity leading to heterogeneity and complexity. The work is a collection of carefully selected peer-reviewed articles. Rather than arguing for an impending disappearance of traditional media, the book embraces contemporary plurality of media forms, advocating a more comprehensive approach.

Many of the authors are creative media practitioners. Their work gives the reader a look at contemporary media landscape providing relevant social and cultural commentary to a variety of media genres. For example, Hollywood films such as Bar Luhman’s The Great Gatsby and Adam McKays’ The Big Short are brought into discussion in the context of contemporary politics and media. The ecological debate and issues of hybridity are scrutinized through the lens of Isabella Rossellini’s Green Porno Youtube series. C.S. Lewis, Pavel Hošel and Frederick Jameson’s perspectives of social utopia and ideology enables a critical discussion of popular youth media in Eastern Europe.

Among the works we also encounter theoretical essays exploring multiple historical origins and possible media futures. The craft of weaving, issues of gender and oral poetry are brought into a metaphorical relation through an examination of the Finnish Kalevala tradition. From a critical perspective, diverse origins and possible paths of development of the intermedia traditions are examined.