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McKenzie Wark: Mark Amerika's PHON:E:ME web project

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Date: Tue, 13 Jul 1999 10:15:57 +1000 (EST)
From: McKenzie Wark <>
To: Nettime List <>
Subject: Mark Amerika's PHON:E:ME web project

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

---------- Forwarded message ----------


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