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believe t hat this is a historical fact.

The
fixed form is obsolete. This is the age
of the opera aperta, of "open form." The
creators of the intermedium, as Tomas
Schmit says, want "s.imply to do things
that can't be judged in art-categories
any more! ! !" We critics who have been
brought up on art-categories are clearly
incompetent in this field and must
disqualify ourselves from crWcal judgment
unless we retrain ourselves and learn
to accept t he fact that the arts can
always be "something else" rather th.an
that to which we are accustomed. Since
most critics need the appui of history
-and of a tradition if they can find one
- it seems to me that a good way to
begin is by immersing one's self in
the history of Dada (which I have just
been doing), and to a lesser extent in
that of Futurism and Surrealism. Speaking
for myself, I must say that I think Dada
holds the key for an understanding
of the new movements, although the
It is true that in his Foreword to
latter are, as Dick Higgins affirms,
The Four Suits (New York, 1965), a book
much vaster, and more inclusive. This
of lntermedia, Dick Higgins said, "This
huge, immensely open situation is not, after all, Dada." Granted, since Dada as though the whole universe were simply a
is alleged to have died around 1924
vast opera aperta- is clearly implied in
we might call it Dada Redivivus, or Neo-Dada; Mcluhan's dictum that, "We approach
a time when the total human situation
but all th is is quibbling about names.
I am more impressed by a question
must be considered as a work of art."
that Higgins asks in his Something
If Mcluhan is right- and I believe this is
Else Newsletter (Vol. 1, No. 1, February,
the essential meaning of lntermedia1966): "Is it possible to speak of the
use of lntermedia as a huge and inclusive
then it follows that we can no longer
movement of which Dada, Futurism
accept as valid not only the distinctions
between categorie.; of art, but also the
and Surrealism are early phases preceding
dividing line between the "arts" (for want
the huge groundswell that is taking place
now?" I believe it is not only possible,
of a better term!) and other aspects of
the human condition. As stated by
but reasonable and useful, to think in
Higgins: " The social context and symbols
such terms. After all, the main issue, as
in this kind of work are very often
I see it, is to develop a critical apparatus
considered by the artist to be part of
for dealing with "Happenings and
the subject matter .. . and so the
lntermedium Experiments in the Arts."
critic of these pieces is to be a moral
Obviously, the traditional frames o~
critic. Because they are moral pieces. As
reference won't do. One may agree
or disagree with Dick Higgins' dictum that well as social. As well as political."
Hence, "The art critic who faces this
"The age of the form is over," but I

Am I for or against the exploration of outer


space, the widespread use of computers,
the ubiquity of television? To say "yes"
or "no" is to be equally fatuous. No
expres&ion of personal opinion will have
the slightest effect on these developments.
Once set in motion they are forces to
which no one can set a terminus ad quem.
It is the same, I believe, with movements
whereby man expresses his reaction to his
environment, his destiny, his human
and social situation -call it art, or antiart, or intermedia, or simply "something
else" (to borrow a convenient term from
Dick Higgins of The Something Else Press).
Even when such movements appear to
come to an end- as in the case of Dada,
proclaimed "dead" over forty years agothey may simply undergo a metamorphosis,
merge with the changing shape of time,
and emerge in the transfigurations of
another age. This is what happened
with Dada.

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sort of work must then also become a


social critic." This dictum I accept as
valid. One may take it or leave it, but if
one wants to come to grips with intermedia
-and I think this is the largest challenge
facing the critic today- one must do so on
grounds that are relevant and premises
that are applicable. Thus far there is little
indication of a developing body of
informed, openminded and perceptive
criticism in this area. My own position is
exploratory, tentative, and potentially
receptive, since thus far my opportunities
for actually experiencing Happenings and
other types of lntermedia have been,
alas, extremely limited. I am acquainted
with some of the published works of
Alison Knowles, Dick Higgins, Benjamin
Patterson, Philip Corner, Tomas Schmit,
George Brecht, Guiseppe Chiari, David
Reck, and a few others who are doing
lntermedia. I hope there will be increasing
opportunities to hear and see these works,
and a regular forum for serious criticism
of specific pieces. Perhaps this issue of
ARTS IN SOCIETY is a step in
the right direction.

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