IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Inside CU's faculty profile series
Our faculty are a source of great pride and bring a world of expertise, experimentation and excellence to our students and our community. Meet Mark Amerika, associate professor of art & art history.
Mark Amerika’s creative work and practice-based research covers a broad range of disciplines including visual art, novel writing, live performance and critical theory production. He is a recent recipient of a CU Innovative Grant award and a Leadership Education for Advancement and Promotion (LEAP) award. He teaches courses in digital art, electronic writing and publishing, live audio-visual performance, and the history and theory of media art.
What drew you to your field of expertise, and keeps you passionate about your work?
I really love immersing myself in the creative process. Since I think of myself as a truly interdisciplinary media artist, this means my new work (or works) cover a broad range of media outputs. At my core, I am an experimental creative writer who loves playing with language. Experimental use of language can be found in my literary novels, my visual art works, my live audio-visual performances, my interactive net art and my immersive digital video projects that I install in gallery and museum spaces. Lately, I have been very busy writing a new novel, exhibiting a new series of video installations and researching a theory book on remix culture. New passions always take hold too. For example, last summer I was a visiting professor and artist in the Cornwall region of England. I decided that I wanted to create a "feature-length" film shot entirely on mobile phone and that I would create it in the tradition of the art-house cinema of the past. I put together a small cast and crew and soon we were in full-on production mode developing a serious work of art that philosophically explores the two central characters' passion for life in a future world quite different from our own.
What do you most enjoy and what is the most challenging aspect of your profession?
I really enjoy my time in the classroom teaching art students how to rethink their relationship with technology. One of my top priorities is to encourage students to develop their critical skills when approaching new media artwork. It's very easy for emerging artists who employ digital processes to confuse the act of using 'cool' technology with the potential of making breakthrough art. Using an innovative software program does not necessarily lead to the making of a powerful work of art, so one of the challenges we are always facing in the experimental digital art studio is how to teach conceptual methods and artistic strategies that the student can process while making new work. Ideally, after a rigorous pursuit of practice-based research, what emerges for the student is a unique artwork that makes a strong aesthetic impact regardless of what technology was employed in the making of the work.
What are your favorite interests and activities apart from your work?
It's really hard for me to separate work from life from art. That's a very arty thing to say, by the way, but I do mean it.
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