Ten Reflections on Mark Amerika’s PHON:E:ME .09

Or consider the play, throughout PHON:E:ME, between ownership (copyright) on one hand, and unrestricted proliferation ("copyleft") on the other. Digital technologies allow both for the uncontrolled replication of data (as in the current frenzy surrounding MP3) and for an unprecedented degree of tracking and control of those same data (as in the proposed Secure Digital Music Initiative). Amerika zeroes in on the points at which these alternatives blur and cross over. Does unlimited digital proliferation mean that the artist, like the multinational corporation, attempts to corner the market, making everything into a clone of his or her own viral meme? Or does it mean that the artist must do everything to protect his or her trademark from unauthorized replication and corporate appropriation? Or does it mean, instead, that the art producer must be a quick-change artist, continually mutating himself or herself at a frantic rate? Becoming a brand name, selling one’s "phony me" to the public, might ironically turn out to be the best way for the artist to keep a step ahead of the inevitable forces of co-optation and standardization.

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