This dissertation maps the emergence of intermedia art practices in relation to mid-20th century U.S. social conditions and media technologies, focusing on John Cage and Black Mountain College, Gertrude Stein and the Judson Poets Theater, Ray Johnson and the Something Else Press, and Yoko Ono and Fluxus. The dissertation argues that these artists and sites of art practice perform a queer art, not necessarily through expressive content but rather through a queer temporality that embraces what is preliminary, incomplete, and outmoded. The queer sensorium developed in these works questions and provides alternatives to culturally-privileged modes of the auditory and the visual.
Chapter 1 looks at John Cage’s Untitled Event at Black Mountain College. Chapter 2 looks at the Judson Poets Theater’s adaptation of Gertrude Stein’s “A Circular Play” as a musical theater performance called In Circles. Chapter 3 looks at Ray Johnson’s book The Paper Snake published by Dick Higgins and the Something Else Press. Chapter 4 looks at Yoko Ono’s book Grapefruit and the form of the Fluxus event score. A coda to the dissertation looks at a recent artwork by the artist William Pope.L, Another Kind of Love:John Cage’s ‘Silence,' By Hand, an artwork that returns to the mid-century emergence of intermedia with questions regarding the mediation of race.