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The Gesamtkunstwerk as a Synergy of the Arts


Edited By Massimo Fusillo and Marina Grishakova

Conceived by Wagner as a way to recover the synthesis of arts at the core of Greek tragedy, the Gesamtkunstwerk played a significant role in post-Romantic and avant-garde aesthetics. It was designed to regenerate and defend the public function of art against mass culture and technology, yet at the same time depended on them in an ambivalent relationship manifested by its various realizations. The book reconceives the "total work of art" as a variation of intermediality, a practice that subverts any essentialist vision of artistic languages through complex interplay and blending of perceptions, amplified by new media and the syncretic nature of the cyberspace. The Gesamtkunstwerk can no longer be considered a Hegelian synthesis of arts or a Romantic and Wagnerian fusion of languages: it involves a synergy of different arts and media and captures the digital age’s principle of open textuality without any hierarchy and any organicist connotations. This book reveals the vitality of modern and contemporary Gesamtkunstwerk by mapping its presence in various arts and media.

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Chapter 12 The Intermedia Fiction in the Age of Convergence Culture: An Endless Travel within the Polytextual Dimension of S. by J.J. Abrams and D. Dorst: (Mirko Lino)


The Intermedia Fiction in the Age of Convergence Culture: An Endless Travel within the Polytextual Dimension of S. by J.J. Abrams and D. Dorst

Mirko Lino

This chapter discusses S., a most unusual novel written by J.J. Abrams, the renowned Hollywood sci-fi filmmaker (Star Trek, Star Trek – Into the Darkens, Star Wars: The Force Awakens), together with Doug Dorst, an adventure-fantasy novelist (Alive in Necropolis, The Surf Guru). The singularity of S. does not lie so much in the collaboration between an infamous filmmaker and a less well-known novelist, as in the creative use of digital print techniques in the overall graphic design of the book.

S. is based on the expedient of a “book within a book” (Fig. 1). It presents the reader with an illusion of having, in his/her own hands, an old book printed in 1949, The Ship of Theseus, by V.M. Straka. The novel is an adventure story set on a mysterious sea-going vessel, in which an amnesiac man, called S. by the crew, undertakes a drawn-out journey to discover his real identity. This old book and its author are fictive, but the illusion of reality is achieved through certain printed effects, such as: yellowing and moldy pages, the presence of the Dewey code on the spine, the library readers’ list, the extensive presence of handwritten commentaries, underlined sentences, circled words, drawings, diagrams sketched clearly in the margins, the whole of this allegedly put together ←217 | 218→by two young...

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