Thursday, April 18, 2002

Jill, Adrian and particularly RMIT have Mark Amerika as their guest in Melbourne these days. According to Jill Adrian has convinced Mark to make a blog while in Australia, and with some searching the ozblog was revealed. (note 23.04.2002: this has been changed since I wrote this post, there's now a directory at the end of that link.)

Now Mark Amerika is an interesting character. He is an active internet artist who also gives lectures and exhibitions. He travels all over the world, and at one point he was in Bergen during DAC 2000, as one of the keynote speakers. He didn't impress me much at that time, but being a simple girl with barbaric tastes and uneducated parents, I assumed it was just too sophisticated for little me.

His blog on the other hand... I think I a know a thing or two about blogs, and was very interested in seeing what a creative artist could get out of this form which I so much enjoy. But according to Mark Amerika, what I found wasn't a blog - at least not a true one. He has written a de-construction of blogs, rather than constructing one.

A blog should not be defined. Defining a blog would be like defining what a novel is or what a film is or what an experimental art installation is.

Perhaps it would be better to de-define a blog. A blog is not a diary, it is not dated, it is not autobiography, it is not a dreambook.

Or: it can be any or all of those things but probably should not be any or all of them.

Yes, the blog is the medium: just like television isn't each program you can view through it, the blog isn't each style in which you can write. (At this point I felt very friendly towards Mark Amerika, and thought he might have a message for the simple girls of this world after all.)

Blogs could be pseudo-autobiographical works-in-progress, where the artist who creates one surfs the electrosphere for useful data, samples it, manipulates it, and then exhibits it in an online environment that makes it feel like something more than just a diary website.

This will probably have to be done in the translinguistic act of writing itself. The writing I speak of is more than just a diary entry with links to things found on the net and is more than just text. It is designwriting, video ecriture, mixillogical sound art, a color field of graphic disturbance.

Human portals are fine, they are even dandy -- in fact, they may even end up being a kind of virtual dandyism strutting their stuff in net space -- but they are not true blog.

True blog is not true at all. It is pseudo.

1) true blog. this indicates that Mark Amerika has found out what a true blog is.
2) pseudo: this indicates that a blog isn't really a blog, it just pretends to be a blog - which again assumes that there is a kind of "blog-an-sich" out there.

And then I look at the words being used here - human portals - strutting their stuff - What's wrong with strutting our stuff in virtual space? Isn't that what Mark Amerika makes a living from? Should the bloggers of the world abandon their happy strutting, humbly putting their inner flaneur away and leave the virtual streets to the persons who have found and realised the "true blog"? (At this point the simple girl in me smiled happily - strutting my stuff is no bad thing, particularly when I am confident that I have stuff well worth strutting.)

After having declared blogs pseudo, there's a short interlude where Mark Amerika uses blogs in retrospective: talking about how Anaïs Nin would not be bloggered - or the bloggish nature of Henry Miller. I am always fascinated with this rhetoric twist, how realisations due to new technology tends to be used in retrospective, to describe something belonging to a totally different context. What does that have to do with anything? Both these authors played with the tools of their preference, and from their writing they had some fun and did some strutting of their own. But while some of the styles which blogs might resemble harks back to the journal, the diary, the autobiography, Mark Amerika himself already said that blogs are not these things, blogs can contain them, can resemble them, but go beyond this point.

Finally, the definition of the true blog. Keeping your dictionaries at hand won't help you:

True blog, then, is not blog as we know it, but as we un-know it. It incites creation - more invention - so that you yourself have to get down and dirty into the developmental process activating the network with your own mixillogical discourse. This is blog as inventive remix machine placing value on what it sees, what it links to, how it appropriates the Other and strips it of its isolation.

I think mixillogical means: mix-il-logical - a blend which isn't logical. Then it actually makes a kind of sense. I guess the rambling in order to get to this point is the blog-part. We use blogs as a place to ramble, it's a place to strut our stuff, to juggle with words, to play around with thoughts and to make our own priorities visible - which is what Mark Amerika does as well. So, not de-defined after all, but the same ramble, the same pseudo-blog - which as far as I can see is the real thing. Very postmodern.

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