straight up

By proposing that the Dynabook be a "meta-medium" that unifies all media within a single interactive interface, Alan Kay had glimpsed into the future. But he may not have realized that his proposal had roots in the theories of the19th century German opera composer, Richard Wagner.

In 1849, Wagner introduced the concept of the Gesamtkunstwerk, or Total Artwork, in an essay called "The Artwork of the Future." It would be difficult to overstate the power of this idea, or its influence. WagnerÕs description of the Gesamtkunstwerk is one of the first attempts in modern art to establish a practical, theoretical system for the comprehensive integration of the arts. Wagner sought the idealized union of all the arts through the "totalizing," or synthesizing, effect of music drama Š the unification of music, song, dance, poetry, visual arts, and stagecraft. His drive to embrace the full range of human experience, and to reflect it in his operas, led him to give equal attention to every aspect of the final production. He was convinced that only through this integration could he attain the expressive powers he desired to transform music drama into a vehicle capable of affecting German culture.