Mark Amerika

Mark Amerika

Mark Amerika, who has been named a “Time Magazine 100 Innovator” as part of their continuing series of features on the most influential artists, scientists, entertainers, and philosophers into the 21st century, has had two large-scale retrospectives of his digital art work. The first-ever net art retrospective was held in the summer of 2001 at the ACA Media Arts Plaza in Tokyo, Japan, and was called “Avant-Pop: The Stories of Mark Amerika [an Internet art retrospective].” Amerika’s first European net art retrospective enjoyed two exhibition runs at the Institute for Contemporary Arts in London and was entitled “How To Be An Internet Artist.” Both shows covered the years 1993–2001.

Amerika’s new cross-media art project and the third part of his new media trilogy is entitled FILMTEXT. FILMTEXT is a hybridized online/offline digital narrative created as a net art site, a museum installation, an mp3 concept album, an artist ebook, and a series of live performances. The first version of this work was commissioned by Playstation 2 for Amerika’s “How To Be An Internet Artist” retrospective exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, and the 2.0 version was released in conjunction with his exhibition at SIGGRAPH 2002 in San Antonio. Other recent and forthcoming exhibitions of FILMTEXT have taken place or will take place in many international venues including the Centre for Contemporary Photography (Melbourne, Australia), F I L E (Sao Paulo, Brazil), ISEA (Nagoya, Japan), EMAF (Osnabruek, Germany), SF Camerawork (San Francisco), the American Museum of the Moving Image (New York), and the FILMWINTER Festival of Expanded Media (Stuttgart, Germany).

Amerika is the Publisher of Alt-X, which he founded in 1993. Publishers Weekly has called Alt-X “the literary publishing model of the future.” He is also the author of two novels and two artist ebooks. His first novel, The Kafka Chronicles, is now in its third printing, and his most recent novel, Sexual Blood, has been translated into Italian as Sangue Sessuale. The Philadelphia Inquirer has said, “the real counterculture is not gone and Mark Amerika is proof of that … his work is not so much a book as it is a Dadaist demonstration, once again honoring the dictum that it’s the artist’s sacred duty to destroy what commerce has made common.” His artist ebooks are available for free download and enjoy a readership in the tens of thousands. The How To Be An Internet Artist ebook was part of the initial launch of the new Alt-X Press, and the cinescripture.1 ebook was exhibited in conjunction with his retrospective at the ICA in London.

In the mid-nineties, Amerika was a Creative Writing Fellow and Lecturer on Network Publishing and Hypertext at Brown University, where he developed the GRAMMATRON project, a multi-media narrative for network-distributed environments. The opening section to what was supposed to be a novel called GRAMMATRON was published in the Penguin USA Avant-Pop anthology entitled After Yesterday’s Crash (edited by Larry McCaffery). By the time this Penguin USA excerpt was published, Amerika was already well on his way to creating an online storyworld that has since been released on the Internet and praised by many media sites including The New York Times, MSNBC’s The Site, Time, Reuters International, Die Zeit, Wired, The Village Voice, and Salon. GRAMMATRON has been exhibited at over forty international venues including the Ars Electronica Festival, the International Symposium of Electronic Art, SIGGRAPH 98, the Museums On The Web “Beyond Interface” show, the Adelaide Arts Festival “FOLDBACK” show in South Australia, the Virtual Worlds conference in Paris, and the International Biennial of Film and Architecture in Graz.

In Spring 2000, GRAMMATRON was selected as one of the first works of Internet art to ever be exhibited in the prestigious Whitney Biennial of American Art. A familiar presence on the international festival and conference circuit, Amerika gives performances and demonstrations on net art, web publishing, new media art and theory, hypertext, hactivism, and the future of narrative art in network culture. His recent focus has been on translating his practice-based research methods into live multimedia performances that integrate experimental music, live writing, and video sampling into the narrative mix. A frequent keynoter, some major events he’s participated in include the Brown University Freedom To Write Conference, The Whitney Museum’s “Seminars With Artists” program, the Duke University “Assault: Radicalism In Aesthetics and Politics” conference, The German Association of Amerikan Studies Conference on Technology & American Culture, the Lucerne Easter Festival, Transmediale (Berlin), Northwestern University’s Center for Writing Arts lecture series on “Electronic Publishing,” The Adelaide Arts Festival, the ISEA 2002 “Orai” symposium in Nagoya, Japan, the “Knowing Mass Culture: Mediating Knowledge” conference at the University of Wisconsin — Milwaukee’s Center for Twentieth Century Studies, the Digital Arts and Culture 2000 conference in Bergen, Norway, the bi-coastal “mal/CONTENT” conferences sponsored by Screamingmedia, the Unified Field Summit at the Aspen Institute in Colorado, and a sixteen-city book tour for his novel Sexual Blood.

After GRAMMATRON, the second project in his new media trilogy is PHON:E:ME, an mp3 concept album with hyper:liner:notes commissioned by the Walker Art Center, the Australia Council for the Arts New Media Fund, the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art, and the Jerome Foundation. The PHONE:ME project, which was nominated for an International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences Webby Award in the Art category, has been exhibited internationally at venues such as SIGGRAPH 2000, the Festival International de Linguagem Eletronica at the Museum of Image and Sound in Sao Paolo, Brazil, the 13th Videobrasil festival in Sao Paulo, the Zeppelin Sound Festival at the Centre de Cultura Contemporania de Barcelona, and the Centres George Pompidou in Paris as part of the traveling “Let’s Entertain” show.

Amerika is a professor of digital art at the University of Colorado in Boulder where he is developing the TECHNE practice-based research initiative. In 2002, he was a Visiting Fellow at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and the National University of Singapore.

Degenerative Prose (Editor, 1995)

Sexual Blood (1995)

The Kafka Chronicles (1993)


The real counterculture is not gone. Mark Amerika is proof of that … Here we have a writer who unravels his male heterosexuality as thoroughly as any post-feminist, who’s willing to make disturbing accusations against mainstream culture, while simultaneously wrestling with postmodernity.

Philadelphia Inquirer

Sexual Blood

Mark Amerika

Sexual Blood, by Mark Amerika (FC2, 1995)

Quality Paper
ISBN 978-1-573660006

Taking off from the cult success of his first novel, The Kafka Chronicles, Mark Amerika’s breakthrough second novel, Sexual Blood, is a wild trip through the dark side of America’s media-manipulated consciousness. His main character, Mal, an alternative rock musician, has a strange encounter with the Medicine Woman which causes him to hallucinate in a fantasy land populated by all of his former lovers. Mal, hoping to repent for all of the emotional damage he’s caused in the past, seeks a magic transfusion that will turn him into a compassionate human being; this is when he enters the realm of the Sexual Blood. Charged with a sensual language not seen since Henry Miller, Amerika’s mix of grunge rockers, reality hackers, expatriates and guerilla artists opens up in an erotic world lost in a theater of cruelty.


Amerika has taken the classic structure of the novel, run it through a postmodern mixer and poured it into a form that most resembles the brain patterns of a video game junkie about to beat his high score.

Denver Post


Fiction for [Amerika] becomes a kind of whirling acid trip, an anti-narrative-as-mind-altering drug that makes you see the universe and language like you’ve never seen them before. The outcome of these breathless heteroglossic strobes is part Leyner-ed Ginsberg, part Acker-ed Burroughs, part some kind of mutant Dexadrined Beckett …

American Book Review


A remarkable book, it held me all the way. Mr. Amerika — if indeed that is his name — has achieved a unique beauty in his most artful marriage of Blake’s lyricism and the iron-in-the-soul of Celine. Are we talking a new and hard-hitting Antonin Artaud? Absolutely. And much more.

Terry Southern, author of Candy and The Magic Christian and screenwriter for Dr. Strangelove and Easy Rider


… all of Amerika’s experiences contribute to his disjointed, driving writing style …

National Public Radio’s New Letters On The Air


… contemporary, media-savvy space …

Village Voice

Mark Amerika not only plays music — the rhythm, the sound of his words and sentences — he plays verbal meanings as if they’re music

Kathy Acker

The Kafka Chronicles

Mark Amerika

The Kafka Chronicles, by Mark Amerika (FC2, 1993)

Quality Paper
ISBN 978-0-932511-54-6

The Kafka Chronicles is an adventure into the psyche of an ultracontemporary twentysomething artist who is lost in an underworld of drugs and mental terrorism, where he encounters a cast of angry yet sensual characters: Alkaloid Boy and Blue Sky, an inconspicuous and loving couple who find themselves subjected to constant government harassment; General Psyche and his sidekick Major Uptight, the military officers responsible for controlling the media upon briefing room during the Gulf War; King Bohemia, a guerilla-artist who hosts wild orgies; and, of course, Gregor Samsa, who wakes up one day and finds himself living in the eco-anarchy of postmodern America.

The Kafka Chronicles ignites a hyper-language that explores the relationship between style and substance, self and sexuality, and identity and difference. Amerika’s energetic prose uses all available tracks, mixes vocabularies, and samples genres. Taking its cue from the recent explosion of angst-driven rage found in the alternative rock music scene, this novel reveals the unsettled voice of America’s next generation.


In The Kafka Chronicles, postmodernist chef Mark Amerika serves up an exotic and tast bouillabaisse whose delightfully bizarre ingredients include succulent chunks of Leyner, Baudrillard, Kafka, Bataille, Jameson and cyberpunk all simmered in a rich sauce of nowspeak, advertising lingo and Sonic Youth lyrics not to be passed up!

Larry McCaffery, author of Storming the Reality Studio: A Casebook of Cyperpunk and Postmodern SF and Across the Wounded Galaxies: Interviews with Contemporary American SF Writers


Mark Amerika not only plays music — the rhythm, the sound of his words and sentences — he plays verbal meanings as if they’re music/ I’m not just talking about music. Amerika is showing us that William Burroughs came out of jazz knowledge and that now everything’s political — and everything’s coming out through the lens of sexuality.

Kathy Acker, author of Empire of the Senseless and Blood and Guts in High School