Mark Amerika is an American artist and author.
Amerika received his MFA from Brown University. After publishing two cult-novels, The Kafka Chronicles and Sexual Blood, he turned his energy towards net art. His goal is to expand the concept of writing so that it includes writing in and with new media technologies. He is the founder of the Alt-X Online Network, one of the oldest online art and literary networks. Originally founded as a Gopher site by Amerika in late 1992, it features the art, fiction, poetry, and critical theory of over 500 international contributors. In 1993, Amerika published the widely translated Avant Pop Manifesto on Alt-X.
Amerika is also the creator of GRAMMATRON, "a virtual writing machine that translates your experience for you as you experience it." The experiential aspects of hypertext fiction were thoroughly investigated in GRAMMATRON. GRAMMATRON, released on the web in 1997, was the first of three major net art works that Amerika created between 1993 and 2001. The second work in the net art trilogy is PHON:E:ME, an mp3 concept album with hyper:liner:notes that premiered as a newly commissioned artwork at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Whereas GRAMMATRON explored the nature of multilinear narrative in cyberpace, PHON:E:ME, released on the web in 1999, looked back at the influence of conceptual art on new media culture. The work deals with the interrelationship between writing, sound, and hypermedia narrative, and features Amerika's unique vocals (he was the former lead vocalist for the now defunct art-rock band, Dogma Hum). The final work in the new media trilogy is FILMTEXT which premiered in 2001-2002 at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London as part of Amerika's HOW TO BE AN INTERNET ARTIST retrospective, the first-ever European net art retrospective (Amerika's "Avant-Pop: The Stories of Mark Amerika" net art retrospective in Tokyo, was the first net art retrospective in art history). FILMTEXT is an exploration into digital narrative across new media platforms and incorporates a Flash art website, an mp3 concept album, an experimental artist ebook, and a series of live audio-visual performances. These live performances eventually morphed into Amerika's international tour as "VJ Persona."
Amerika's major collection of artist writings from 1993 to 2005 is entitled META/DATA: A Digital Poetics (The MIT Press/Leonardo Books). In 2011, he released a second major volume of contemporary art theory entitled remixthebook (University of Minnesota Press). remixthebook is a hybridized form of digital art performance, Internet art work, and print book publication that investigates the way artists remix source material in both their practice and research into new forms of theory.
His latest artworks are a series of feature-length "Foreign Films" made in various media formats including HDV and mobile phone video. The first of the series is entitled "My Autoerotic Muse" and the second is entitled "Immobilité". A solo exhibition of "Immobilité" premiered at the Chelsea Art Museum's Project Room for New Media in April/May 2009. "Immobilité" was featured at the Tate archived website as part of their Intermedia program. Since its initial release, "Immobilité" has appeared internationally including an extended solo exhibition at the Denver Art Museum.
On October 22, 2009, UNREALTIME, a comprehensive retrospective exhibition of Amerika's diverse portfolio of artworks, opened at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens, Greece. The show ended on January 10, 2010.
Soon after releasing remixthebook, Amerika was commissioned by the UK-based arts organization Abandon Normal Devices to create an artwork in conjunction with the London 2012 Olympics. On June 22, 2012, the day the Olympic torch passed through Manchester (headquarters of Abandon Normal Devices), Amerika released Museum of Glitch Aesthetics, an expansive transmedia narrative about the life and work of the eponymous The Artist 2.0. The work includes multiple videos, animated GIFs, net art, and a full-length comedy album titled The Comedy of Errors featuring the voice of Amerika. Various works from the online version of the site have since been remixed by curators such as Omar Kholeif (now curator at Whitechapel Gallery), The Harris Museum, and furtherfield gallery in London.
In 2014, Amerika published Locus Solus: An Inappropriate Translation Composed in a 21st Manner. Amerika refers to the work as an "auto-translation and remix" of French surrealist writer Raymond Roussel's novel also titled Locus Solus. Amerika, who does not speak or write in French, used online translation programs to pieces together his version of the story. The book was published 100 years afte Roussel's initial publication and was announced as a "centenary edition."
In January 2015, Amerika released his newly commissioned net art work Crapshoot. The work, a freely downloadable web app that remixes the stylistic poetics of Stephané Mallarmé's Un Coup de Des Jamais N'Abolira Le Hasard, was commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art at the Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie in Karlsruhe.
Amerika is a Professor of Art and Art History at the University of Colorado at Boulder where, in 2014, he helped found a new doctoral program in Intermedia Art, Writing and Performance.
Awards and honors
Amerika has been named a "Time Magazine 100 Innovator," and his digital artwork has been shown at museums around the world, including five major retrospectives, one each at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, the Media Arts Plaza in Tokyo, Ciberart Bilbao, FILE (Electronic Language International Festival) in São Paulo, and most recently the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens. He has received art commissions from venues such as the Walker Art Center, the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, IBM, Sony PlayStation, and the Machida City Museum of Graphic Arts in Tokyo. His net art work PHON:E:ME was nominated for a Webby Award in 1999. Amerika has delivered many keynote addresses at a variety of interdisciplinary conferences and festivals including the "Disrupting Narratives" symposium at Tate Modern, the "Visionary Landscapes: Electronic Literature Organization 2008 Conference" in Vancouver, Digital Art and Culture in Bergen, Norway, Ciber@rt Bilbao, the "Buddhism and New Media" conference at Dongguk University in Seoul, Transmediale 2001 in Berlin, and the UNESCO-sponsored WSIS Summit on "ICT and Creativity" in Vienna.
- The Kafka Chronicles (FC2/University of Alabama Press, 1993)
- Sexual Blood (ISBN 978-1-57366-000-6), (FC2/University of Alabama Press, 1995)
- Degenerative Prose (FC2/University of Alabama Press, 1995)
- In Memoriam to Postmodernism: Essays on the Avant-Pop (San Diego State University Press, 1995)
- How to Be an Internet Artist (ISBN 1-931560-03-X) (Alt-X Press, 2001)
- META/DATA: A Digital Poetics (The MIT Press/Leonardo Books, 2007)
- 29 Inches (Chiasmus Press, 2007)
- remixthebook (University of Minnesota Press, 2011)
- Locus Solus: An Inappropriate Translation Composed in a 21st Century Manner (Counterpath Press, 2014)
- "The Author Got Hyper About It". Time Magazine. January 15, 2001. Retrieved 2009-09-21.
- Personal website
- Alt-X Online Network
- META/DATA: A Digital Poetics
- Amerika's "Professor VJ" blog
- UNREALTIME: Amerika's retrospective at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens, Greece
- Video Interview at Tate Britain (2008)
- Interview with Mark Amerika at Interview magazine (2009)
- Interview with Mark Amerika on Word Riot (2008)
- Archive of keynote address at Tate Modern (2007)
- Time Magazine 100 Innovator (2001)
- Interview with Amerika at 3ammagazine.com (2001)
- Interview (1995)
- OK Texts