PHON:E:ME is an “orchestration of writerly effects” contributed by network artists, writers, designers, DJs, programmers and curators. Their combined efforts create a transformational online narrative environment that tells the story of how net culture is altering our received notions of authorship and originality, and how emerging digital artists are helping to break down the boundaries between the virtual and the real, between art and non-art, and the various disciplines that have too often led to rigid compartmentalization and weak critical speculation.
Amerika’s second major net art work, PHON:E:ME, asks viewer-participants to expand traditional notions of authorship and narrative and invites them to "remix" their own textual-auditory experience over the Web. The work comes equipped with a “hyper:liner:notes” that randomly generates bits of narrative information tracing the social interaction of a network of artists, utopian dot.comers, DJs, and anti-copyright enthusiasts looking for the next cultural revolution. The PHON:E:ME project was commissioned by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art in Western Australia, with additional funding from the Australia Council for the Arts and the Jerome Foundation.
Critical theorist Steve Shaviro, in his catalogue essay for the PHON:E:ME web site at the Walker Art Center, said “Mark Amerika works at the critical point where new sensory ratios are starting to emerge. Most obviously, his piece plays with the intersection between the ear and the eye, between what we hear and what we see. More subtly, it also explores a disjunction within the eye itself: between what we can read and what we can only look at.”
Whereas GRAMMATRON experiments with the hypertextuality of the Internet as an interconnected global computer network, PHON:E:ME much more consciously investigates the way auditory media pervades our daily lives and how this in turn effects the way we experience what have become routine cultural practices such as reading, writing, listening to music, and surfing the Internet. With a multitude of viable media formats and cultural objects fighting for our attention, questions of choice and designing our own interactive experiences come to the fore. By experimenting with both the design interface as well as the artistic content constructed especially for the PHON:E:ME web site, Amerika is attempting to find ways to express the impact of this audio-visual “noise” while inviting the participant - the artistic “co-conspirator” - to create their own alternative version of the work based off of the parameters the artist put in place.
The work has been exhibited in many venues including Videobrasil in Sao Paolo, the Zeppelin Sound Festival in Barcelona, and the Walker Art Center’s “Art Entertainment Network” show as part of the traveling “Let’s Entertain” exhibition. In 2000, PHON:E:ME was one of five works of art nominated for the prestigious International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences Award.