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  [FLASHBACK, REMIX, DÉJÀ-VU?. Retro-Visions in Current Electronic Culture]

Neue Galerie Graz
Sackstraße 16, A-8020 Graz

It is a good ten years ago that Techno and the newer electronic music has started to mix with the mainstream canon. Also since that time span, this movement has started to write its own history, after having toyed with an ideology of absence of historical records and of anti-narration for a long time. In the meantime, Techno, understood in the broadest sense, has advanced to a crucial paradigm of contemporary culture. Before, electronic art was ascribed the merry avant-garde cutting edge role, being mostly socially cut off and technically motivated; today, a broad restructuring and here foremost a contextual extension, leading to a broad diversity in electronic culture has taken place within the last decade.
A lot of myths which seemed to have characterized this new field had to be revised since then: no author, anonymity or the abolishing of hierarchies of High and Low are some of these myths which by no means were cancelled but for sure have experience a re-definition. Thus, the electronic music which formerly lined up to revolutionize completely all forms of canonization and historicity, today, itself has to a certain degree an unalterable canonization.
If you look around today, this fundamental historicity is rarely tried to be masked, either out of an enthusiastic future orientation, or motivated by an exaggerated sense of present time. On the contrary, the electronic culture seems to push the re-usage of sound archives and proto-Electronica genres to a degree that corresponds to the increasingly easiness of processing data which has been stored in the past. Regardless of their form as reused sound particles, sound signatures, comprehensive style patterns or cultural blueprints, the reuse of patterns which once had been trend-setting or were regarded as forerunners, prevails in quite a huge field of this culture today. This is reason enough, to concretely go into central episodes of the prehistory of today’s Electronica and to scan them regarding their latent actuality in the frame of the symposium FLASHBACK, REMIX, DÉJÀ-VU? (“Retro-Visions in Current Electronic Culture“).

This is, however, also reason enough to question the seeming timelessness of a lot of “technoid” sounds, or to critically view certain success patterns behind current productions, which are consciously based on an over time blurred retro-modernism. Finally, this is reason enough, to question the respective peculiarity of falling back to such material – as specific expression of a “nostalgia for the presence”.

Is today’s electronic music drifting toward a cultural amnesia, levelling out everything and establishing itself in the form of a light-hearted, but also ineffective here-and-now feeling? Does a surplus of references contribute to an increased appreciation of the past or merely to a swifter forgetting. Is the “burden of history” of a culture perhaps neutralized exactly because it constantly and everywhere, blown up into micro-particles, reappears or is made reappear? Or do currently only those streams of advanced music reach the centre of attention, which were so revolutionary that they only gradually are validated in the course of history? The question finally comes to the fore, how time-related contemporary music actually can be, being trapped within a time span that ranges from 1979 to 2019.

Christian Höller

Martin Büsser, Matthias Dusini, Tom Holert, Christian Höller, Anne Hilde Neset, Michaela Schwendtner, Krystian Woznicki


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Christian Höller, FLASHBACK, REMIX, DÉJÀ-VU, 2002. symposium. Matthias Dusini, Tom Holert