McKenzie Wark on Tue, 13 Jul 1999 10:17:11 +1000 (EST)

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Syndicate: Mark Amerika's PHON:E:ME web pro

"We no longer have roots, we have aerials."
 -- McKenzie Wark


It's DJ electronica meets Fireside Theater meets Marcel Duchamp.
--Mark Amerika

Novelist, Web publisher, and net artist Mark Amerika, Founding Director of
the Alt-X Online Publishing Network, has created PHON:E:ME, a new Web
project, commissioned by the Walker Art Center's Gallery 9. PHON:E:ME asks
viewer-participants to expand traditional notions of authorship and
narrative and invites them to "re:mix" their own textual-auditory
experience over the Web. The project launches June 30 at

Amerika, using the m.o. "surf, sample, manipulate," remixes sounds and
texts to create an original composition that blurs the borders between
spoken, written, and sculpted artistic forms. Part oral narrative, part
experimental sound collage, and part written hypertext, PHON:E:ME also
addresses the new possibilities of both conceptual and performance art in
network culture.

The sound works associated with PHON:E:ME were developed with Minneapolis-based
sound artist Erik Belgum and composed with a specially programmed speech
synthesizer that uses the artist's own voice. This tailor-made synthesizer
was created by sampling the artist's voice as he speaks all of the phonemes
of the English language as well as mimics other electronica sounds, such as
drum kits and bass lines. Additional sound and interface design were
developed by Anne Burdick, DJ Reset, Cam Merton, and Tom Bland.

Joe Tabbi, editor of Electronic Book Review, who contributes an essay
"Amerika, Ink" to the project, writes of Amerika's earlier, critically
acclaimed GRAMMATRON project: "What distinguishes Mark's project, its claim
to priority as a work of imagination, is that it stands as the first
substantial literary work created to exist on the Web."

According to Amerika, "With PHON:E:ME  the emphasis is on sound-writing,
with hypermediated text . . . and very little attention placed on imagery
per se," adding "I've always thought of writing as filtering, in the
mediumistic sense. Writer as techno-shaman: filtering the white noise
exploding in his skull and digitally editing it all into some on-the-fly

Amerika is the author of two novels, The Kafka Chronicles and Sexual Blood.
The Philadelphia Inquirer has said: "the real counterculture is not gone
and Mark Amerika is proof of that . . . his work is not so much a book as
it is a Dadaist demonstration, once again honoring the dictum that it's the
artist's sacred duty to destroy what commerce has made common." His
GRAMMATRON project ( was developed while he was a
Creative Writing Fellow and Lecturer on Network Publishing and Hypertext at
Brown University. Released in June 1997, it is one of the most widely
accessed art sites on the World Wide Web. He is also the creator of
Hypertextual Consciousness, a breakthrough study in electronic writing and
publishing. Amerika frequently gives lectures, performances, and
demonstrations on Web publishing, hypertext fiction and theory, avant-pop
literature, and the future of narrative art in network culture.

PHON:E:ME was commissioned by the Walker Art Center's Gallery 9 with
additional support from the Australia Council for the Art's New Media Fund,
the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art, and the Jerome Foundation.

The Walker Art Center is located one block off Highway I-94 at the corner
of Lyndale Avenue South and Vineland Place in Minneapolis. For public
information, call 612.375.7622; TDD: 375.7585. Gallery hours: Tuesday,
Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, 10 am-5 pm; Thursday, 10 am-8 pm; Sunday, 11
am-5 pm; closed Monday

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