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Comments on Mark Amerika's PHON:E:ME

Patrick Lichty, 1999
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 in regards to 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 he has 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 in regards to what direction Amerika's next work will take us. 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

Patrick Lichty, 1999. First published by Gallery 9/Walker Art Center for PHON:E:ME.