Linda Castellani (castle) Thu 11 Jan 01 15:57
Our guests this time around are Gary Danner and Elisa Rose, two Austrian multimedia artists known far and wide as Station Rose -- which was also an actual place, by the way. On March 11, 1988, Station Rose opened as a "multimediale Kunststation" -- a "multimedia art station" -- in Vienna. Much more than a gallery, it was also a storefront showroom, a workshop, a meeting point for artists, musicians and scientists. Station Rose went on to record and perform in Cairo, San Francisco, Japan, and of course, all up and down the European continent. Ten years after the original Station Rose opened its doors, Elisa and Gary celebrated their anniversary with a book, _1st Decade_: http://www.well.com/user/gunafa/1st.dec_book.html Now, Station Rose has released another, _private://public_, a collection of Webcast conversations with Geert Lovink, Petra Klaus & Hans Romanov, Bazon Brock, Birgit Richard, Stefan Weber, Thomas Feuerstein and Josephine Bosma: http://www.stationrose.com/private-public/Buch2.html Interviewing Station Rose is David Hudson, a freelance writer living in Berlin, author of _Rewired: a brief and opinionated net history_, and contributor to Artbyte, the Berliner Zeitung, de:Bug, Feed, Mute, Salon, Spiegel Online, Wired News and a slew of other publications. David will be mining the historical perspective Elisa and Gary have to offer after nearly 13 years of artistic collaboration and brainstorming with them about the rapidly evolving future of the multimedia experience.
Linda Castellani (castle) Thu 11 Jan 01 15:58
Please join me in welcoming David and his guests Gary and Elisa!
David Hudson (davidhudson) Fri 12 Jan 01 00:55
I first met Gary and Elisa online. Appropriate enough. Even more fitting, the setting was Howard Rheingold's Electric Minds where, having relocated to Germany, Elisa and Gary were hosting the Frankfurt conference. I was immediately caught up in their energy and intrigued by the ways they toyed with the conferencing system, based on Well Engaged, so that it became a multimedia playground and workspace with an invigorating look and feel all its own. A few months later, I was lucky enough to finally meet Gary and Elisa face-to-face. This would be 1997; Sony was throwing a big party for them in Munich and I got to see Station Rose live for the first time, dance to Gary's beats and be wowed by Elisa's morphing imagery -- and what's more, Elisa and Gary were kind enough to let me interview them directly afterwards: http://www.rewired.com/97/0512.html In the interview, Gary and Elisa describe the vital role The Well has taken in their work and play over the years as well as their personal relationships with some of its founders and early members. Sure, they'd been online before attending the raucous Cyberthon of 1990, but The Well opened up a whole new chapter for Station Rose. For now, though, Gary and Elisa, let's start with the book, _private://public_. The description at your site is in German, but I can briefly outline the basics: out of 124 Webcasts, you've selected seven of the most interesting discussions you've had with some pretty hefty names in media and art theory. What was the overriding principle in your selection, in other words, is there a unifying theme that runs through the book? And then, a more banal but irresistible question: Why a book? You seem to have purposefully *not* archived these discussions on the Net -- why not?
Gary Danner (danner) Fri 12 Jan 01 14:36
We selected the conversations in which we touched a topic which is very important to us until today as multimedia artists: realtime ("Echtzeit"). What does it mean to perform live, what makes this experience so unique and fascinating. What makes this section of artistic work different from, let´s say, composing a piece in the secluded atmosphere of the multimedia studio, with no connection to the outside world. Yes, why a book ? We have been confronted with this question since our first book ;-) I´d say, because that´s the great thing about being a multimedia artist: you do not have to stick to one medium, be it analog or digital. You can do/produce a book, as CD, a piece of netart, webcast, do a photo session, produce a video (to be seen at MTV and high-art sources like 3sat and arte), present yourself in a gallery as well as in the Net, perform in underground dungeons as well as at high art festivals, you can do anything - well almost; Lisa woulden´t paint a picture, and I wouldn´t play guitar in a band ...
Elisa Rose (gunafa) Fri 12 Jan 01 14:56
<Why a book? You seem to have purposefully *not* archived these discussions on the Net -- why not?> The idea behind inviting guests to join us in the webcast studio was to be able to dicuss themes that were in the air. It was some sort of verbal break in between the pure multimedia jam sessions. At the same time it was a chance to invite guests, like we did when we had Station Rose as a real place in Vienna. Very fast we realized that many important discussions happen. Even for us it was difficult to recall them 100%, basically because it is really intense to "webcast in front and behind the cameras in realtime". So when we wanted to go back to a certain conversation, we would have to see/hear the whole webcast (on DV tape) again. We thought that pure text - which we dont use much in our art - would fit here. At the same time the publisher had asked us, if we wouldnt like to do another book after "1st decade" (released 98). The book gives the chance to read about our point of views on art, cyberspace, music... and those of our guests. While lying on a sofa. This is nice. Seeing us perform is something else. The 2 are opposites but go together.
Gail Williams (gail) Fri 12 Jan 01 15:51
What fun to see you here!
David Hudson (davidhudson) Sat 13 Jan 01 05:44
Heavens, lots to sink our teeth into here, and I want to come back to some of the ideas you've touched on, but one comment really leaps out at me: "Lisa wouldn't paint a picture, and I wouldn't play guitar in a band ..." What a great opportunity to ask about the choices you've made and your commitment to electronic and digital art. Let's go back, way back, and let me ask: Do each of you remember your first experiences with electronic music and/or imagery -- maybe even your first computer? Gary, I know you've been interested for quite a while in some of the earliest electronic musical instruments. There's a great theramin piece on the EP "Tree," for example. Was there ever a certain moment, maybe a first encounter with e-music you heard on the radio as a kid, where you thought, "That's cool -- that's what I want to do"? And you both attended the European Art University in Vienna, so Elisa, you must have tried your hand with a set of oils or watercolors at some point; why do you find a digital palette a better fit for you?
Are We Really? (really) Sat 13 Jan 01 09:04
Pardon me excuse for interupting the Station Rose inquisition happening here... but I have a comment and another question. I first experienced Gunafa listening to the Grateful Dead playing from the Pyramids in Egypt. I wasn't actually there but only listening on tape. Besides the strange trip of the Grateful Dead music coming through the speakers, there was another vibe that I had never experienced that I later learned was called Gunafa. Gunafa is the experience of something totally enmeshed in art or something to that affect. When I finally met Station Rose through the Art Com Electronic Network g acen at the Well, they had been enveloped in Gunafa already for about a dozen or so years if I am not mistaken. They too had been in Egypt looking for the cosmic giggle when they realized the concept of Gunafa and decided then and there to pursue it. Station Rose are clearly digital bohemians in the full tilt boogie mode! They can be modest about the their stellar Austrian heritage. No they, did not exactly evolve from Mozart, but Gary raised a major ruckus as a young pop star before going to art school, and Elise did her understudy with Karl Lagerfeld, no slouch himself. But back to this Gunafa thing. What is it exactly?
Elisa Rose (gunafa) Sat 13 Jan 01 11:00
<Do each of you remember your first experiences with electronic music and/or imagery -- maybe even your first computer?> David, my first experience with electronic imagery was at the art univerity in 85. There was a commodore c 64 with a pad. I was so interested, and made my first computer grafics on that machine. I used that grafics for the experimental fashion show called "Uranus with his 5 moons", which I did together with Gary. It was a one night performance event at the museum of modern art in Vienna. I used this very first computer piece of art in divers versions for the show: we made a slide out of it, because there was no other way to get the picture out of the computer. the slide then was projected on a big screen on stage. ( at that time I worked with slide projectors a lot, cause I always wanted the work with the light of grafix. it was some sort of an earlier version of video/data-projectors.) Then I screenprinted the same grafics on canvas, and on cloth, in different colours and material- for the collection. Maybe I find a picture of it to show here. These were my fashion & grafics years, as I was in the Karl Lagerfeld class at the university of art, as well as in a video class. When Gary and me finished the art university with diplomas in 87 (we got an academic title : magister of art), a month later, I bought my first computer, a commodore 500. I was immediately fascinated and toyed around us much as I could. I knew on from the moment I unpacked it, that this was the right machine for me. As we had studied in a video class, I had a lot of contact with video editing, mainly on u-matic. I never liked that big dinosauresque videosystem. It was clear for me, that with my own computer a special part of my artistic life would start. To your second question <Elisa, you must have tried your hand with a set of oils or watercolors at some point; why do you find a digital palette a better fit for you?> I was never much into painting, neither oils nor watercolors. I never really liked canvas. If I wanted to work with "material", I decided to do it more in fashion. But the problem here, too, was that material like cloth is so final. As soon as you put colour on it, or screenprint, and then cut and make a clothing-you cannot make any or almost any changes later. When you cut into cloth, and make a mistake, it is not <repairable/changeable> any more. that fact made me very nervous. I wanted a fluid medium, where I can make updates and changes, if I wanted. And what is maybe even more important, I am an RGB sort of artist, not a CMYK. I am into light, not into print. RGB has much more intensity colourwise. When I talk with collegues, it comes out very soon, who is into RGB, and who is into CMYK. A female grafic designer I know in Berlin came up with an interesting formula: If you mix more and more colours on paper, in the end you get black. if you do the same on screen, you get a bright colour. (I am not sure if I sampled her 100% right, but the content goes like that). So the digital palette in my case is almost always linked to the intensity of light, the screen, the projections. When I produce art for exhibitions, I try to transfer that idea- I show light-boxes, or C-Prints on plexi (which are developed in a digital foto lab). Sometimes I use both in an art show: art pieces out of light, and screenprinted art. My production modus is always industrial. I do the art on my computer, and then pass it on to professionals to produce/finish it. I defenitely believe in the original, but of an idea, composition. Not in the original in form of a painting. This is retro for me. Hello Are We Really! an answer to gunafa is following.
Gary Danner (danner) Sat 13 Jan 01 11:25
I cannot distinctly remember a "childhood flash" that sparked into a musical career. Maybe one little episode, when I was watching Beat Club (a german tv series with live bands in the 60ies) I noticed how extremely annoyed and aggressive the "grownups" in the room got. I thought "wow, I normally really have to plan a long time to make them so mad, these guys only need to play the drums and guitar and have long hair!" I was deeply impressed (later I found out they had showed The Who in that episode). It became more clear when I was 10-12, at the step to adulthood. I was extremely bored, nothing seemed to make sense. Then I discovered my parent´s record collection, and I was hooked. From then on I spent 99% of my money and my time listening to and making (I picked up the guitar then) music. I got involved in electronic musical instruments later, as during the punk movement in Europe end of the 70ies, where i did my first live gigs and recordings, the use of these was deemed reactionary, being used by the so-called despised prog rock bands like Pink Floyd, Yes, Genesis (yuck) etc. I started working with samplers in the mid-eighties, because the guitar seemed too limited. My first computer was an Atari, an extremely relieble machine; I even took it with me on the road when playing live. Today I prefer HD recording, doing practically everything with sequencer software.
Gary Danner (danner) Sat 13 Jan 01 11:34
Gunafa is an Arab slangword, which we discovered when we were granted a post-graduate study in Cairo, Egypt. It means something like "positive chaos", "merger of seemingly impossible-to-mix things", "cocktail". A word of many meanings! Ask a befriended arab, and she will tell you her personal definition of that word; this is also a nice effect that term has. I find the word appropriate for avantgarde art, not only for ours. Our recordlabel, where we release 2-3 vinyls per year, is called "Gunafa", by the way.
Gail Williams (gail) Sat 13 Jan 01 11:34
I like that line: "I am an RGB sort of artist, not a CMYK." It is profound and also a little bit of a smile after a recent conversation here about personality types... Over in <inkwell.vue.97> the MBTI personality codes are related to colors, so this is a fun and thought-provoking addition.
Are We Really? (really) Sat 13 Jan 01 16:32
I am both an RGB and CMYK kind of guy. Thanks for the clarification on the meaning or derivation of Gunafa. I was at your latest performance at 76 Minna Street in San Francisco. You used enormous video projectors fed out of your Powerbooks that you collaborated with each other making digital sounds to accompany the visuals. It was a fascinating, psychedelic experience. It was very technocentric feeling. Why not so much melody? Are you creating just pure technical visual and auditory riffs?
Linda Castellani (castle) Sat 13 Jan 01 17:47
Elisa, I'm with you! I love light-produced color and usually tear my hair out at pigment produced color.
David Hudson (davidhudson) Sun 14 Jan 01 07:49
Welcome, Are We Really?, and Gail, I forgot to say, Hi! Gary and Elisa, I don't want to just deluge you with questions -- yet -- especially since Are We Really?'s is such a terrific one. I'd be interested in hearing you riff on that one, too. I've practically worn out the Station Rose recordings I have (and btw, the cover for Au Ciel is fabulous!), and melody or not, I'm humming along to *something*. <g> Gary, check out this piece in The New York Times today: http://www.nytimes.com/2001/01/14/arts/14HAMP.html It's about the return (more or less) of 70s prog-rock, particularly in bands like Radiohead. Now, I realize this isn't exactly the type of music you were referring to, but I was happy to see Can and Cluster mentioned as influences. I'm wondering if you were into Krautrock at the time, too. And the Atari! That was indeed the die-hard centerpiece of many an ad hoc studio -- and more than a few professional ones, too. Even into the late 80s, when I visited Logic Records (Münzing and Anzolotti, Snap, "I Got the Power!" and all that), and among all the mixing boards, offices, studios for video shoots, kitchens, what have you, the heart of it all was nothing fancier than an Atari. Elisa, it's remarkable that you didn't catch the video fever of the mid to late 80s when it seemed next to impossible to attend a performance of any sort without bumping into a monitor. And I like this image of trying to "get the picture out of the computer." I hope you can find some examples of your work in fashion from those years. The evolution of the *look* of Station Rose is great fun to survey in the book, _1st Decade_. But first, back to Are We Really?'s question...
Gary Danner (danner) Sun 14 Jan 01 11:04
<really> Why not so much melody ? We moved away from that since 5 years now, especially when playing live. We try to provoke a synergetic effect, so that the listener hears a melody of him/herself, so to say. The opto-acoustic patterns should not be too complex when performing, although powerful enough as to make room for your personal son et lumiere. It´s different when recording. Here it has to be complete, burned into CD or vinyl for eternity ! But even here there is not too much of a melody used, as we are more into minimalism these days. David, I would not call Can (that was the first record I ever bought, in 72, btw ;-) a prog rock band ! Krautrock, yes, I still like some of it. Prog rock, for me, and many punk colleagues, was a craving of rock musicians to be taken seriously by serious composers, mimmicking the pompuous side of classical music (like Emerson, Lake and Palmer for example).
Are We Really? (really) Sun 14 Jan 01 11:51
I thought Emerson Lake and Palmer was rock music? Not Rock and Roll, but Rock.
Elisa Rose (gunafa) Sun 14 Jan 01 16:25
Linda and Gail, RGB seems to trigger something. ;-) Light is essential in my art. And with new and strong projectors it will enter our rooms soon. It could become as "normal" as a good soundsystem. And David, did you hear "Au Ciel" yet? There is a link to the mp3-version at <http://www.atrecordings.com/FrontSite/LabelArtistAlbum/Artist.asp?artist=art_s tatio00> I dont understand well what you mean with "it's remarkable that you didn't catch the video fever of the mid to late 80s when it seemed next to impossible to attend a performance of any sort without bumping into a monitor"? we did use videos at that time, even made one for the diploma, but the output medium then, monitors, was still small. i like that we skip from present to past and back. it fits into LAH/Life After History. Concerning the fashion period, this is some sort of a not catalogued part of our art. it was too soon for the 1st decade book,too. we only webast parts of it in a remix last year, but didnt make rm.files out of it. it was before station rose, 1983-86. I found this from the very first fashion show: <http://www.well.com/user/gunafa/fashion1.html> the one we talked above, with the first computer grafic lays in the archive on videotape. Maybe I can scan some of it.
Linda Castellani (castle) Sun 14 Jan 01 17:17
Gary Danner (danner) Mon 15 Jan 01 03:00
That´s a very good article, David ! I agree with Mr. Hampton 99,9 %.
David Hudson (davidhudson) Mon 15 Jan 01 05:52
There are some terrific bits of writing in there, too. Even though I much prefer Eno to Ferry, what a great description of Ferry's solo collections of covers, suggesting "nothing so much as the imaginary soundtracks to Elvis movies as remade by Rainer Werner Fassbinder." Linda, I'll second that Wow! -- and add that I'm glad you two, Gary and Elisa, are still working with. i.e., remixing the material. Elisa, you write, "i like that we skip from present to past and back. it fits into LAH/Life After History." Before we step into the future as well over the next few days, tell us a bit more about LAH. The idea, I mean. And now you've got me wondering how far back you two go; when *did* you meet for the first time? Also, Elisa, I must have misunderstood your first comments about video and thought you shunned the medium entirely. Not so, so I see! Streaming "Au Ciel" as I write; more on that soon. For now, LAH...
Elisa Rose (gunafa) Mon 15 Jan 01 14:55
LAH. The idea. this was a difficult one. I was trying to write directly into inkwell, was almost finished, and finally lost it. i had to start again from the beginning and recollect my thoughts. so here is version 2: LAH came up during the 1st decade book production (98). it had been some sort of timetravel through the 90-ies, in which we saw many future aspects at the same time. Concerning the net and digital art, projects like electric minds and palace were really early examples of what can go. how online communities could and hopefully will have conversations. We tested the system, tried out a lot. So when bringing in older projects/ideas, as soon as they were in the conference, and even hyperlinked they became part of the present. this was an interesting fact. It set us free from having to describe art, we had done long ago. we didnt like to do that. especially when it was art that was not released on the art or music market, but only performed once or twice. So the net, well engaged, webcasting brings back art, makes it part of LAH. with webcasting this is even more now, cause streaming is so active, so fluid. here we can webcast material into the present in realtime. so in a way the net puts the present much more into the focus. and it includes the past - remixed, updated, digitized. at the same time we observed to pay less attention to the future. so many things are possible now, which we want to experience before going on to a next level. always thinking about the next (technological) levels sometimes gets superficial, doesnt leave enough time for the production at a moment. The reason why we looked so much into the future in the 90 ies was because then programms, computers and the net were still in the beginning. i think i read about "future is now" in bruce sterlings inkwell topic. this goes into the same direction. The future and the past is now. after all those years of waiting for the adequate hard and software (real)time is here to work with them, in LAH. but one has to see here that having hard and software & the net available doesnt mean that the realization of projects becomes so much easier. its easier to produce but it is still hard to release. it takes much time to put everything online for instance, and to deal with providers, software updates,...i think that in the present, where much goes technically, digital art must really fight for its place in the net. all the attention e-commerce tries to get, means a difficult standing for the avantgarde. btw, maybe it was really good that that the stock-mania has a down. I am looking forward to how the net will evolve in the very next years in LAH, how the digital art becomes a streamed full screen experience. I believe in the net and in hypermedia. LAH for us is the time now, where we can really work with and act in realtime. in the book "private://public" we were talking about LAH with our guests, too. maybe there the statements are sharper than in my version2 here. but on the other side is well engaged the right place to talk about - LAH.
Elisa Rose (gunafa) Tue 16 Jan 01 03:29
<IMG SRC="http://www.well.com/www/gunafa/1.jpg"> So here is my very first computer art. I did it in 1985, working on a Commodore C64, at the art university in Vienna. So far I never posted it on the net. we only streamed the fashion show called "Summer 96" in a remix once, but didnt archive it . I got it yesterday from a DV-tape, where I made stills with Firewire and the PB.
computer art 1985 (gunafa) Tue 16 Jan 01 03:34
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 16 Jan 01 05:24
"so in a way the net puts the present much more into the focus. and it includes the past - remixed, updated, digitized. at the same time we observed to pay less attention to the future." This is so much the character of the computer-mediated world for me: transcending time, transcending locale. In the last few years I realized I'd stopped reading science fiction because it seemed stale compared to my life online! In the work we did at FringeWare, Inc., particularly in Monte McCarter's art and design work, and in his intensely realized electronic compositions, we had this same sense of no-time, which is something I had encountered in experimental fiction as long as thirty years ago, where we talked about literature that was less transparent and more just-is, just-now, sort of a zen theme emerging on the fringes of western culture. I'm interested, Elisa, in whether there's an ideological aspect to your work, or do you think of yourselves as apolitical?
David Hudson (davidhudson) Tue 16 Jan 01 07:33
Definitely the question of the day, Jon! To add briefly to yours and Elisa's thoughts on LAH: "The future and the past is now." I think there are many positive aspects to this outlook; technology allows us to keep souvenirs -- photos, text archives, audio and video recordings, etc -- all around us, as real as any other mediated experience of the present. And in a way, sci-fi films, novels, even some dreams allow us to add our "experiences" of possible futures to the collection as well. But there's also the danger of leaping off the deep dark end, a danger Scott McLemee describes nicely in his short piece at Feed on Baudrillard (whom Bruce Sterling also mentions in the inkwell.vue discussion you refer to when he talks about the area where pomo theory and science fiction meet): "there is no more future, trapped as we are now between what Baudrillard calls 'the impossibility of anything's being over and...the impossibility of seeing beyond the present.'" http://www.feedmag.com/templates/default.php3?a_id=1552 Best line: "The end of history means the launch of reality's syndication as endless reruns." Your take seems to be the much more fun one; to accept this state of affairs, to enjoy it, to riff on it, to turn it into art. Yes? You also say, "i think that in the present, where much goes technically, digital art must really fight for its place in the net. all the attention e-commerce tries to get, means a difficult standing for the avantgarde." I just wanted to point folks to more of your thoughts on this in a recent post to Nettime: http://www.nettime.org/nettime.w3archive/200101/msg00095.html But back to Jon's question...
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