The Pop Scene
Intermedia's Going Places, To Many Worlds, In Fact
By John Gruen 1967
Amazing—the things that can happen! It seems as if only yesterday the word intermedia was a mystifying, alien word—a word implying the bastardization of the arts. Today, intermedia is one of the most-sought-after forms of entertainment—a concept that is not only attracting the world of entertainment, but the industrial, promotional, and educational worlds as well.
A phenomenon of pop-culture, intermedia is proliferating on an international scale, and one of its chief promoters is John Brockman, a 26-year-old business school graduate, well on his way to becoming the S. Hurok of intermedia in all its kinetic environmental splendor.
Brockman tuned in on the intermedia circuit a little over year ago when he organized a series of new cinema events at the Film-makers' Cinematheque when it began its showings down on Lafayette Street. Later, he was hired by Lincoln Center's New York Film Festival to stage a number of special events dealing with expanded cinema. As of several months ago, Brockman has gone on his own to form John Brockman Associates, a one-man company catering to the intermedia needs of industry, education and of pop-culture in general.
l. Describing himself as an entrepreneur-without-portfolio, this wiry, bespectacled, intense young man is currently chin deep in projects that should keep him active for months, if not years.
His intermedia resources are the artists, engineers, and light-works wizards who have already made names for themselves in the intermedia field—people like Gerd Stern, Michael Callahan, and Jud Yalkut of USCO, and "Action Theater's" Ken Dewey.
As of the moment, Brockman has landed the Scott Paper account, for which he has produced a two-hour intermedia sales-meeting show to reintroduce a Scott product to their national sales force; has proposed to Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art an environmental workshop project, to be called "Interface," in which major scientists and artists could explore new technology; will stage a dazzling environment for the Jewish Museum's upcoming "Purim Ball" on April 1; will be consultant on a major festival probing light and film to take place in New York City parks; is in the process of building and organizing "Solux," an environmental community spanning 111 acres of land in Llama, New Mexico (a fantastic project masterminded by USCO); will design and program discotheques in London and in Rome; is producing a show based on the theme "The New Morality" for Princeton University; is staging a department store presentation for a major cosmetics firm; and is producing an environmental program for the Associated Arts Council of America's National Conference to be held shortly at Arley House, Virginia. The theme here to be "Changing Values of the Artist."
This extraordinary array of intermedia projects is ample proof that the experimental noodling of New Bohemia is beginning to pay off—that the prophecies of Marshall McLuhan, the shenanigans of the psychedelic "experience"—that art and engineering—and all expanded art forms, are attracting the hard-core business, advertising and industrial worlds.
They are all waking up to the fact that America's youth-quake is truly a Combine Generation—indeed, a generation of customers who will respond to the environmental and multi-media approach to products, to learning, to leisure, and to entertainment. Men like John Brockman will be the arbiters and impresarios who will guide these four-square worlds into the tastes and thoughts of this youngest and largest of up-coming generations. ■
First published by The Herald Tribune, 1967.