I first met the phrase “interstitial art” at a World Fantasy Convention two or three years ago, and at the time it seemed at once a well-intentioned and extremely vague concept.

I read this Introduction to Interstitial Arts today, and found myself pondering why. The short definition of interstitial art seems to be that it’s what falls between the cracks of the niches marketing departments are all so fond of. Not work that fits into more than one niche, but work that fits into no niche.

At that World Fantasy Convention, I remember never getting a clear idea of what was and wasn’t considered interstitial. Music that draws elements from two radically different cultures, yes. Short stories in poetry form? People seemed more uncertain about that. And no one seemed to be talking about different mediums–an interstitial work was entirely music, or entirely prose, or entirely whatever medium it was, rather than being a little of each. Yet to me, writing work that falls somewhere between mystery stories and fantasy stories, say, is a fairly tame thing–but writing work that falls, say, between sculpture and dance, or fiction and song–that’s getting more interesting.

But reading the essay now, I find myself arguing from a different direction. I think maybe all art is interstitial, and that none of it is. I think nearly every work out there falls between the cracks in some ways, and fits within genre conventions in others. The degree to which both these things are true for a given work will vary–but I’m not sure there’s really such a thing as “stitial” work in the first place.

I mean, how many writers do you know who say, with confidence, “Oh yes, I knew all alone my work would fit into Genre X perfectly, so I never worried about selling it–I was offered a contract immediately, and marketing knew exactly how to promote it, and all my readers were pleased that they got exactly what they were expecting, and bought hundreds of thousands of copies as a result.”

Maybe a few. But in my admittedly anecdotal experience they’re not in the majority.

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