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  [TECHNO VISIONS I. Sound as Window to New Social and Aesthetical Image Spaces]

Neue Galerie Graz
Sackstraße 16, A-8020 Graz

CONCEPT: Christian Höller
The last ten years have been dominated by Techno, Rave and an emerging Electronica culture. It almost seems as if a mass phenomenon, starting in the early 1990s (Rave), has differentiated, over the years, by numerous niches, micro-segments and substiles
that can hardly be embraced by one single term. This is reason enough to review and question the visionary promises of these various subcultures with respect to musicaesthetical as well as sociopolitical aspects.

Starting point of the symposium TECHNO-VISIONEN I (“Techno-Visions I. Sound as Window to New Social and Aesthetical Image Spaces”) shall be the peculiarity of this innovative music itself, namely foremost the specific sound vocabulary which has been developing within the last years. Which qualities and intensities dominate this vocabulary? And to stay with the non-musical metaphoric level, which visionary situations can be transferred from the sound level to other areas (socio-utopian, experiential etc.)? On this basis, it shall become transparent whether and to what extent, today, sound has become a central media of cultural production, or within which production paradigms the concrete work with sound currently finds its adequate position. This shall be taken up to topicalize the hierarchies and differentiation moments within the Techno culture itself, which apparently has produced a broad range of consumer-oriented mass entertainment and a renascent avant-garde ethos of a small Electronica elite (to think of labels like Säkhö, Mego, Touch, ~scape, etc.). One question regarding this issue could be to what extent this range merely repeats the former difference of mass culture and elite thinking (“Intelligent Techno”), or whether these terms already have been deconstructed in the course of the progressing fragmentation of Techno and Electronica.
A further aspect could be the question of changed gender relations within the Rave and club culture. For example, formerly rigid (gender) identities have been softened by the politics of the dance floor, which sustainably distinguishes itself from the position of the white, male, heterosexual Rock rebel, instead focusing on ecstatic, polymorph and often non-gender defined “enjoyment”. Nevertheless, the material and personnel-related infrastructure of the DJ culture still seems to be mainly male-dominated and it is to question how a further shifting of gender relations could be effectuated by Techno and Electronica. At least in the beginning, Rave intended to make possible a maximum of enjoyment for a maximum of people, whereas always a consistent side aspect was, to open up new spaces or experiences of “differentness”. Of crucial interest would be thus how “Techno-visions” could contribute to a more comprehensive and, above all, more ethical democratisation (and dehomogenisation) of a culture. This shall be judged not least in the light of the political fundamental trend that increasingly takes hold in Europe which emphasizes self-authorization through (junior) entrepreneurship and self-responsibility – something that is hardly questioned by the DJ culture.

After all, the dance floor and club scene is a heterogeneous and disparate pool of loosely associated subjects, who, in the first place, share a similar (and sometimes also totally deviant) taste regarding electronic music. Nevertheless, it seems that there exist also some core values – like an ethically “inclusive” and in tendencies “globalistic” (directed against global injustices) one – which are shared by all participants of this culture. A question that ties in on this would be how these values could be transferred to a more stable and institutionally grounded (political) “constitution”.

Christian Höller

Bill Brewster, Electric Indigo, Christian Höller, Sascha Kösch, Hillegonda Rietveld, Torsten Schmidt, David Toop

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Electric Indigo, TECHNO-VISIONEN I, 2001. Symposium .