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META/DATA: A Digital Poetics

Author: Mark Amerika
Publisher: Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007
Review Published: January 2008

 REVIEW 1: Vika Zafrin

First, I would like to thank Vika Zafrin for her generous reading of my book META/DATA. I would also like to thank RCCS for selecting the book as its Book of the Month. As I have stated elsewhere, while compiling the various writings for this collection, my hope was to develop an "uncategorizable" writing style that reflected the creative process of making new media art and electronic literature. I was not interested in mimicking conventional scholarly writing and wanted to reveal what it means to be an interdisciplinary practitioner engaged in creative class struggle while attempting to survive in network culture.

One of the central themes of META/DATA is that an emerging artificial intelligentsia, led by digital artists pursuing the creative advance of novel forms, is responsible for keeping the "rival traditions" and "social potential" of what we used to call the "avant-garde" alive and proliferating. This artificial intelligentsia is referred to in the book as being informed by "an internetworked intelligence that consists of all the linked data being distributed in cyberspace at any given time" and for the contemporary remixologist (artist, creative writer, theorist, scholar) who circulates in this artificial intelligentsia, that can only mean one thing: Source Material Everywhere. In my new work-in-progress, I am researching ways this "contemporary remixologist" develops a philosophy of applied aesthetics, one that grounds itself in a renewable tradition by advancing the creative agenda of critical media literacy and aesthetic hactivism.

In closing these brief remarks, I would say that Zafrin's review of my book reveals that she is not only a liberated reader open to experimental discourse, but an active practitioner herself, one who can identify with the remixological process of an artist whose theory evolves through practice. It is not easy to trace a path through a meandering or digressive writing style that knowingly employs a mix of metafiction, new media artist theory, memoir, and scholarly reportage.

This mix gets regularly re-mixed in my Professor VJ blog. I am plugging my blog because in network culture we now know that realtime publication is an extremely viable option at our disposal and that future forms of writing, even those coming out of university environments, are in the process of shifting toward electronic environments (granted this shift may be slower than we care to admit). In fact, it could be said that an RSS feed is a more appropriate way to receive my "metadata" than yet another academic book. But then again, META/DATA is not an academic book. It's a multitrack mixdown.

P.S. I will be addressing many of the issues brought up in META/DATA at the "Visionary Landscapes: Electronic Literature Organization 2008 Conference" in Vancouver, Washington, in late May 2008. I encourage those of you who are researching the emerging interdisciplinary spaces of new media art and writing to come to this event.

Mark Amerika


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