This exposition introduces and analyses the work of IOU through the lens of emergent cognition. Fauconnier and Turner’s (2002) notions of conceptual space and the creative process of conceptual blending provide tools for analysing IOUs singular – yet exemplary – creative technique and vision.

It is our intention that, in analysing examples of IOUs creative output through the lens of emergent cognitive processes, we will shed light not only on a specific body of complex and sophisticated artistic output but also on artistic process and its reception more generally.

IOUs intermedial theatre induces in its audience a perceptual experience and creative mode of spectatorship that we discuss in relation to conceptual blending. In this exposition we explore a model that we suggest illuminates and helps us to comprehend IOUs creative process and the subsequent experience offered to audiences.

The authors have had varying degrees of contact with the company since 1988: Middleton, initially as an audience member at a number of productions over the years and as a collaborating artist in 2014; Moss, first as an audience member and then from 1993 to the present as a performer, deviser, maker, and trustee of the company. We include personal accounts to reflect our own cognitive experiences within IOUs work.