Thursday, January 03, 2008

As the Page Turns II

The new year opens with META/DATA being the Book of the Month reviewed at The Resource Center for Cyberculture Studies edited by David Silver and run out of the University of Washington San Francisco. RCCS is generally one of my favorite review venues for cybercultural books and features writing by emerging artists and scholars in the new media scene.

Here's an excerpt from the review by artist and scholar Vika Zafrin:
META/DATA is both a retrospective and a series of arguments all meant to be made today, with histories of varying duration. Amerika is a remixologist, he re-presents arguments born in early writings over and over, adding to and rephrasing them; META/DATA gives a strong sense -- and record -- of theory's evolution through practice.


Amerika presents himself to us as a "Tech*know*mad whose fluid Life Style Practice captures consciousness in asynchronous realtime and is forever being remixed into One Ongoing Text Exactly" (56). Thinking too hard about the precise terms Amerika uses, many of which he doesn't quite define, is detrimental; such passages seem to create a certain mood rather than expect the reader to follow an academic argument. The artist accomplishes the very difficult task of giving readers a sense of his internal state and its constantly morphing interplay with external stimuli. He proposes that the fluid creativity and responsiveness he clearly achieves consistently is more widely available than one might think: "Being avant-garde may be the primal state we all live in but are conditioned to ignore so that we can slog away inside the bureaucratic superstructure of consumer culture and its devout attempts to keep us aware that we are ON THE CLOCK" (70). To combat this, we are invited to consider the words of Henri Michaux, himself both writer and visual artist: "There isn't one me. There aren't ten mes. There is no me. ME is only a position of equilibirum. An average of 'mes,' a movement in the crowd" (74).

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

As the Page Turns

With all of the nonstop postproduction on both of my feature-length "foreign films," the new book on remix culture, and some of my longest posts yet on the Professor VJ blog, I forgot to post links to two recent reviews of META/DATA.

This very smart, totally with it review of META/DATA that recently came out in Afterimage is entitled "Writing New Media." The online link at The Free Library is here.

An excerpt:
Groundbreaking multimedia artist Brion Gysin famously uttered, "Writing is fifty years behind painting. I propose to apply the painter's technique to writing; things as simple and immediate as collage or montage." (1) In sensing this gap during the 1960s, Gysin attempted to push writing into the present with his cut-up compositions with William S. Burroughs. Mark Amerika's book, META/DATA, works from an even more radical premise that writing not only lags behind avant-garde visual composition but fails to encounter the literary potential of new media that experimental writers are only beginning to survey.

Yet, despite the perceived lag, Amerika's book stands in 2007 at the crest of over thirty years of innovation in the digital humanities and experimental literature, such as word processing, hypertext, and digital library architecture. Also, writing itself certainly should not be taken as the laggard falling behind media. For decades it has served as the spark plug and driving wheel of film production and has cut across every aspect of contemporary media production from literary adaptation and scripting to criticism. In this more inclusive sense--writing as an embedded, communicative process--Amerika's book stands at a critical juncture where we can take stock of how far writing has come in the age of new media and how far it has yet to go. The book itself demonstrates how Amerika's diverse style over the past decade stands in anticipation of many unexplored avenues of writing. META/DATA offers lucid opinions and demonstrations of the practical and theoretical potential of writing in relation to new media. It may even show the way toward a new condition of "new media writing." As such, Amerika reimagines writing as a hybrid media/textual spectacle in an attempt to rewrite writing itself through media-inflected methods of composition and distribution, the fictional identity of the writer, and the paradoxical status of the book itself within media culture.
Another very insightful and engaging review from Australian media theorist and VJ Andrew Murphie recently appeared in Realtime. Entitled "Extreme Writing: Digital Lifestyle Practice," the online link is here.

An excerpt:
Mark Amerika’s book META/DATA turns writing into VJ-ing and vice versa, signalling as it does how sophisticated digital culture has become. META/DATA’s success lies partly in Amerika’s ability as a writer and thinker, and partly in the fact that he has been there for so much of the development of a sophisticated digital culture — not only as an artist, but also as an adventurous editor, publisher, curator, and educator.

Yet META/DATA is not only theory or reflection. The theory is contaminated throughout—in the best possible way—by stories, as many here as there are “pseudoautobiographical” narrators. In one story, a homeless courier in New York—really an aspiring experimental novelist who loves Henry Miller and the avant-garde—reads Derrida in the library between jobs. He realises that the world is being changed by computers and networks. He works to live out the changes, give them substance, make something of them.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008


In 2006, the active word-thought triggering my creative advances was improvisation.

In 2007, improvisation gave way to intuition.

In 2008, we're passing the torch to illumination.

May the prophets be forewarned.

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