Patrick Lichty

I've always been interested in concurrent texts and the potential for the layering of meaning in online spaces. It's probably why I find Mark Amerika's work compelling. Since Grammatron, Amerika has created works that have operated on numerous levels regarding media, narrative, and characterization. In PHON:E:ME, we are confronted with this simultaneity that beckons our interaction while the piece's media come at you all at once. You click on the three main sections, but it's no use. A narrative element shifts or an aphorism flies by, causing any hope of linear narrative to slip through my mouse fingers. Amerika has created a literary cloud of information that the "reader" is forced to float through, an aptly named "dreamworld for an (im)material society" (Art Dirt). Although Amerika introduced elements of dimensionality in the VRML-based Holo-X, PHON:E:ME operates in a number of parallel two-dimensional layers, piquing my curiosity about what direction his next work will take. Will it be into the denser layering of characterization and narration as in PHON:E:ME, or into perceptual layering as in Holo-X and Matt Kirschenbaum's experiments in textuality using three dimensions? Regardless, if PHON:E:ME is any indication, Amerika's work will continue to be provocative, entertaining, and will push the reader's perceptual bandwidth.

Patrick Lichty

Eugene Thacker

A large part of so-called interactive services on the web are, despite the high-tech ergonomics of computer and interface design, actually very intimate technologies; the porn industry, IRC, CU-SeeMe, webcams, and other web-tech have shown us how a safe distance of immediacy in bodies can be aided by a transparent technology. Mark Amerika's PHON:E:ME explores this region, though it emphasizes the simultaneous immediacy and total mediation of the voice's body.

In the tradition of avant-gardist inquiries into the sonority and primacy of the voice (Hugo Ball, Kurt Schwitters, the Lettrists), Amerika takes the voice as a network of sounds, always struggling but never quite able to reach the outside of language. And in the tradition of electro-acoustic inquiries into the technical manipulation of voice (Pierre Henry, Henri Chopin), the "natural" voices in PHON:E:ME are never prior to or separate from the digital technologies used to cut and recombine them.

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