3rd International Colloquium – International Society for Intermedial Studies
Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada
May 18-20, 2017
The Center of Intermedial Research in Arts, Literatures and Technologies (CRIalt) of Université de Montréal will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2017. It will host of ISIS 3rd International colloquium Authetic Artifice.
Intermedial studies were born in the wake of the “digital revolution” but they investigate phenomena that extend back well beyond the 1980s, in some cases to the very dawn of media. So while the field is relatively new, the intermedial dynamics it explores are more than a thousand years old. The main contribution of intermedial studies has been to open up radically new perspectives on questions that have occupied Western thought since its classical origins.
The paradoxical title of this conference, “Authentic Artifice,” reflects this new take. It calls into question the systems of oppositions that still largely define our approach to media practices, which from the intermedial point of view include artistic and, more generally, communicative practices.
While technology is embedded in every aspect of daily life and is even insinuating itself into the human body, our culture remains strangely haunted by a conception of authenticity rooted in the myth of liveness. Liveness may be understood as the convergence of time and space, the confluence of the here and the now. It is regarded as the touchstone of authenticity, assuming a kind of moral value, ineffable and yet evident to all. Liveness is bound up with immediacy, naturalness, truth.
But liveness quickly came to be defined in opposition to mediation and, more generally, to any form of technological intervention. Far from resisting this conception, the technological reproduction industries, and particularly the recording industry, made it the basis of their marketing strategies, touting the “fidelity” and “high fidelity” (hi-fi) of their products.
Their efforts sought to efface any trace of technological mediation and give the listener or viewer the impression of actually being in the presence of the work that had been reproduced, creating the sense of immediacy that Bolter and Grusin call “transparency.” The cult of liveness therefore spawned practices aimed at the erasure of any hint of mediation: the more mediation is concealed, the greater the transparency and the closer we are to real, authentic, “natural” liveness.
But the end of the monopoly of the representational mode in the arts in the 20th century, the development of intermedial thinking and the rise of performativity at the turn of the 21st century challenge all these concepts and their ideological foundations. They also lay bare mediation processes that produce another form of authenticity, one that is hypermediated. For example, some Brechtian techniques can be seen as ways to distance the workings of a theatrical performance from authenticity. Hence the need to redefine authenticity, liveness and the values attached to them.
The Authentic Artifice conference will consider the complex relationship between authenticity and mediation, the values and uses that historically have been associated with them, and those joined to them today in mediatic, artistic and literary practice.
This discussion will be organized around the following four themes:
- Theoretical and historical perspectives: intermedial analyses of discourses about authenticity and mediation. What are the philosophical, moral and socioeconomic underpinnings of thinking about liveness and authenticity? What interpretive systems are deployed? What ideologies come into play?
- Changing perspectives: the question of authenticity and the paradigm shift from representational to performative. What are the theoretical alternatives to the mediation / immediacy opposition?
- Aesthetic perspectives: manifestations of liveness and pathways of mediation. Analysis of artistic experiments and aesthetic practices that embrace or defy the ideology of authenticity, from the use of filters in digital images and recordings to hypermediacy and all the varieties of artifice that may be foregrounded or concealed.
- Magical perspectives: The modern magic show, or the “deceptive arts / arts trompeurs,” appeared in the second half of the 19th century thanks to technological progress and continues drawing crowds to this day. It could be categorized under aesthetic perspectives but is such a limit case of authentic artifice that it is worthy of a separate theme. Magic shows revolving around artifice and illusion play on the “truth of experience” and the paradox of witnessing a mediation that always eludes the spectator’s gaze.
Deadline for proposals for papers or demonstrations: September 12, 2016
Scientific Committee decision: October 1st, 2016
Papers are theoretical presentations; demonstrations include a practical dimension.
Proposals should include:
- A 300-word abstract (2,000 characters)
- A brief CV listing professional affiliation, recent positions, highest degree earned (with date), recent publications.
Please send proposals to:
For more details, please visit: