Born in Chicago in 1967, he is the son of noted Lithuanian geometric abstractionist Kazys Varnelis [1917-2010] and grandson of Kazys Varnelis, the Samogitian folk artist [1867-1945]. When his family moved to the Berkshires, he encountered Fluxus, meeting George Maciunas and getting to know the movement through noted Fluxus collector Jean Brown who became close friends with his mother" .
He is Director of the Network Architecture Lab at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and a founding member of conceptual architecture practice AUDC .
Varnelis has written extensively on the Internet, locative media and network culture. Since 2000 has maintained a blog at his web site, . In 2004, he was appointed as senior researcher at the Annenberg Center for Communication where he worked with Mizuko Ito on "Networked Publics," a year-long research project. More recently he has been involved in research on infrastructure and urbanism, which he began as director of the Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design .