LITERATURE & ART IN CYBERSPACE


ALT-X: MARKING AMERIKA & THE WORLD



ALT X Logo " Inspired by the idea of discarding mainstream publishing houses and politically-controlled museums for a new art venue open to anyone, Alt-X searches for artists whose work does not fit the mold of traditional media.

by Kristine Feeks

Copyright © 2001, 3 A.M. MAGAZINE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


Nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Boulder, Colorado, thrives a small foundation devoted to the promotion of iconoclastic visions and voices within the art world. Teeming with remarkably innovative contributors such as Douglas Coupland, Shelley Jackson and Erik Belgum, the exhibit space awaits your arrival. Care to visit? You need not pack your bags. A simple click of the mouse directed at www.altx.com will transport you from a cyberspace devoid of intelligent writing to a more provocative site where “the digerati meet the literati.”

I first traveled to the Alt-X Online Network as a student enrolled in the Digital Art and Writing course at the University of Colorado taught by Alt-X’s founder, Professor Mark Amerika. His Grammatron, a massive hypertext storyspace accompanied by animated Gifs and streaming audio first captured my interest. Introducing his class to many other Internet artists I rapidly emerged myself in this deviant art world with hopes of an internship. To my delight, I was hired just after classes ended in May to do Public Relations and promotional work for Alt-X. My responsibilities as an intern include web research, technical assistance with various programs and applications, and most prominently working with reviews and e-zines from around the world to feature Alt-X contributors.

Inspired by the idea of discarding mainstream publishing houses and politically-controlled museums for a new art venue open to anyone, Alt-X searches for artists whose work does not fit the mold of traditional media. Its Hyper-X exhibition space of web art, for example, combines flashy scripting programs with some of the best artistic commentary found on the Net. Utilizing sound, animation, video, and text, this is the ultimate in multimedia. The Hyper-X collaborations featuring artists such as Francesca Da Rimini, Bobby Rabyd and Jenny Weight require thoughtful navigation, that is the viewer must click, rollover and interact with the artwork with more patience than one usually reserves for their click-happy forays into commercial web space. No longer must aficionados travel to see the original art works of artists exhibited in such prestigious places as the Whitney Museum in New York City, or the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, they need only to point, click and interact.

Virtual hyperspace not only lends itself to an international audience, but also an international collection. Facilitating transworld communications, email enables me to recruit and promote Internet artists and authors in such faraway lands as Russia, Argentina, Japan, France and Germany. My position at Alt-X and the relations that I have with my clients relies so heavily on the Internet that all I really need to work is web access. My office is totally mobile, which enables me to work from home, school, or anyplace around the world providing an Internet connection; I have taken advantage of great traveling opportunities without missing a beat at work!

Mark AmerikaCombining the fast-paced art world where trends can seemingly change overnight with the instantaneousness of the Web, Mark Amerika and his vision of Alt-X is condensing the tremendous gap between artistic content and the hype of programming techniques. Through my involvement with Black Ice, The Electronic Book Review, Alt-X Audio and Hyper-X exhibits, I have attained an understanding of not only the implications and meaning of these works, but an understanding of how they came to be both conceptually and digitally.

Black Ice, for example, recognized as one of the best sites for challenging fiction on the Internet, is conceptually one of my favorites because it disregards the monstrous corporations and the myriad of middlemen involved in the compilation and distribution of a book. Despite its unorthodox methods, Black Ice provides an immense audience for both upcoming and well-established authors. Alt-X’s devotion to maintaining consistent editorial vision has been its secret to success. Here viewers can experience the latest in Avant-Pop. Authors such as Philip Santo and Adrienne Eisen will prove to you like they emphatically proved to me that indeed, the future of literature doesn't only reside within a dust jacket, but in its most liberated and free-flowing form—on the Internet.

The Electronic Book Review, written in the hypertext format on which it critiques, provides a dynamic design interface that changes the way critical theory is written and received. Discussing the latest digital art and literary works in combination with the theories of digital consciousness, ebr is about to release their behind-the-scenes database that will change the way critical artists and theorists collaborate and build interactive communities.

What is next at Alt-X? We ask ourselves continuously. Right now we’re beginning a new initiative to expand the concept of writing by creating a wide array of e-books for our international audience. What is an ebook? Is it a digital novel with chapters? An on-demand hypertext? Our international electronica sound remixes from Italy, Japan and Argentina are inspiring other possibilities. How about an mp3 concept album—is that an ebook too? We want to find out.

Liberating itself from the tyranny of publishing and other traditional art establishments, Alt-X contributes to the changing roles of Internet art and the Net. Futurists predict the eventual convergence of television, computer, radio, video and telephone; Alt-X leads the way in this movement. My experience working here in the Boulder headquarters has been Alt-Xcellent!


http://www.altx.com/

3AM Magazine has also published an in-depth interview with Mark Amerika (“An Amerikan in Paris”). Check out our three extracts from Adrienne Eisen's novel Making Scenes. Ronald Sukenick's Mosaic Man, published by Mark Amerika's Black Ice imprint, is available from amazon.com.


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Altxfeeks@aol.com


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