On thursday we also had the pleasure of listening to a talk from the enigmatic Mark Amerika, the best way to describe him is as follows :-

‘Mark Amerika is an internationally renowned “remix artist” who not only reconfigures existing cultural content into new forms of art, but also mashes up the mainstream media forms and genres that most commercial artists work in. For example, his body of remix artworks includes published cult novels, pioneering works of Internet art, digital video and surround sound museum installations, large scale video projections in public spaces, live audio-visual/VJ performance, and most recently, a series of feature-length “foreign films” shot with different image capturing devices in various locations throughout the world. One of the leading pioneers of early Internet art, Mark Amerika’s art and writing has influenced a new generation of artists using digital processes to create emerging forms of art that intersect at the boundary of visual art, live performance, cinema, and experimental literature.’ (taken from http://markamerika.com/who-is-mark-amerika-html)

Mark Amerika - taken from his website - http://www.markamerika.com

The guy appeared on the screen in a half lit environment, lit from behind, wearing dark glasses that didn’t allow you to see through to his eyes – that in itself would give ample material for an essay all about this guy, i think! However, he was amazing to listen to – maybe that was the intention…that the dark glasses would make you focus only on the narrative? who knows, but what he had to say was very beneficial.

Mark started off by saying that he was interested in ‘transmedia narrative’, which i thought was an excellent description of a product that is created by using many different types of media – something that i would have referred to in the past as ‘multimodal’. He said that in his ‘pre internet’ days he was influenced mainly by the avant guarde, but in 1992 he went online and his writing changes into multi media. He now works with sound, text, code and film, he said that in the end his writing became ‘more like publishing’ as it was a compilation of many different aspects. He even went as far as to say that he couldn’t write ‘without an internet connection’ as this was his ‘source material’.

He asked the question ‘what does it mean to read in an age of new media?” and in response to his own question he mentioned the term ‘riff reading’, where the reader is the co conspirator, and the post production medium’ – this to be would describe the readers involvement in the narrative, where they contribute their own understanding , which then becomes a part of its existence perhaps? It does beg the question as to whether it is not what we see, but what we perceive that is the important factor here, and that Mark Amerika seems to like to challenge our perception in order to increase our understanding.

He talks about ‘re-mixology’ and says that we are all born remixers .He also makes a good point when he says that a lot of people think that writing has to be ‘linear’ and that that is the traditional way that writing would be constructed where it would automatically move from one point to another – however he says that narrative is a multi media form where things can happen ‘simultaneously and continuously’, there doesn’t have to be the rigid structure and order  that there was before. He mentions that narrative is a ‘multi layered’ experience, that ‘manipulates our notion of time’ and because of that it can no longer be linear.

“dys- narrative” is a phrase he uses, ‘dys’ meaning to throw into confusion, as in dyslexia – the confusion of the words etc. He said that when he uses a dys-narrative it makes it more like an active memory. He posed a question of ‘is the novel dead or is it transitory?’, in reply to this question he said that he views the novel as a ‘publication format’ and refers to the website http://www.remixthebook.com, whose format can best be described in the writing of Mark Amerika below :_

‘In addition to being a print book published by the prestigious University of Minnesota Press, remixthebook expands the concept of scholarly writing and publishing to include multimedia art forms composed for networked and mobile media environments. Theremixthebook.com website is the online hub for the digital remixes of many of the theories generated in the print book and features the work of artists, creative writers and scholars for whom the practice and theory of remix art is central to their research interests. Since one of the primary aims of the project is to create a collaborative and cross-disciplinary approach to the way contemporary theory is performed, and to anticipate future forms of art and writing that challenge traditional modes of scholarly production while still taking on the philosophical issues of our time, the remixthebook project could be considered an open content platform for others to use as source material for their own art work, literary creations, 21st century multimedia theory, and/or innovative coursework.’ (taken from http://www.remixthebook.com – by Mar Amerika)

He describes the following type of work shown in this youtube clip as ‘an art form and a literary intervention’