Cultural Practices of Intermediality explores the role of print within the wider media ecology. The exhibition takes as case studies the stage and the visual arts, as they were figured and refigured through print. The items in this exhibition thematize the interactions of print with a broad range of media and contexts, in what is known as the media ecology. Media ecology, as theorized by Marshal McLuhan, Neil Postman and other scholars of communication, is a twentieth-century concept. It pertains specifically to new media like television, video, and the Internet. However it can also provide a useful framework with which to understand historical media interactions.

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, print did not work in isolation from other media. Rather, it operated within a rich and complex media ecology. It connected, engaged with, and renegotiated these different communicative tools. At the same time, print’s effects on culture were dependent upon and strengthened by this intermedial relationship. The decreased costs of printing resulted in a growing presence of print in people’s daily lives. Printed materials produced for or about events like plays, operas or art exhibitions were disseminated along various avenues, weaving print into the fabric of social spaces.

This exhibition aims to show how print entwined stage performance and the visual arts into various social contexts, while simultaneously reinterpreting them. Using the items in this exhibition, we have attempted to demonstrate some of the ways in which print was being taken up in not only new formats, but alongside different media in this period as well. Cultural Practices of Intermediality makes the interconnections between what might at first seem to be disparate printed objects explicit.

“Cultural Practices of Intermediality” was curated by Marianne Halpert-Cole and Asia Harvey under the supervision of Ersy Contogouris. Professor Tom Mole oversaw the project. The items shown here were displayed for three weeks in March 2012 in Rare Books and Special Collections at McGill University.