written byMarch/April 96

  • a few days ago Station Rose asked me to write a short essay on "Digital Bohemian Lifestyle" for our monthly newsletter. Alright, I said, I´ll do it. But how? Although Gary Danner & Elisa Rose are the most consequent "Digital Bohemians" I know, I am not able to shake an essay about their life ethos out of my keyboard. Therefore (and - to be honest - because I´m afraid of hard work) I decided to visit Station Rose at home, ask them lots of questions and record their answers on my tape recorder. Here comes the essence of our talk about "Digital Bohemian Lifestyle". But before I start there is good news about Station Rose themselves. Just dive in and enjoy ...





    Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia

    An international exhibition of work by artists on CD-ROM

    March 27th - 30 th June 1996

    Burning the Interface is the first major survey exhibition of works on
    CD-ROM by contemporary artists from Australia and overseas. The selection
    has yielded an intriguing and diverse array of work which explores new
    potentials for creative expression and interactivity.

    Artists have been working with the computer as a tool for many years, but
    CD-ROM, a new sound and image-based technology, has made it possible for
    them to explore and present creative ideas in a format which (unlike
    installation, for example) is easily disseminated and exhibited. The
    exhibition will show works by some 75 artists that present a wealth of ideas
    and a wide range of approaches to this new interactive medium.

    The feature within computing art which has attracted most interest from
    artists and audiences alike has been the interactive element, permitting
    viewers to guide or influence the order and rate of their progression
    through the work. The works in this exhibition provide a wealth of options
    for viewers/interactors to navigate their way through the CD-ROM interface,
    enabling different levels of engagement and varying depths of immersion. It
    has been the curatorial intention to reflect this diversity whilst
    highlighting artistic excellence and innovation. (excerpt from press text)

    For detailed info on the show please check out the BURNING THE INTERFACE homepage:



    Fett Tedget: "Digital Bohemian Lifestyle" has become something like a Station Rose slogan. It consists of three central terms which are very suggestive. Let´s talk about these terms and start with "digital". Of course, the opposite is "analogue". You must have started your work as artists with analogue machines?

    Gary: Yes, we were completely "analogue" until the middle of the eighties. Around 1985 we had our first sampler, which of course didn´t make us stop working with analogue machines at once. We became "digital" step by step. And the greatest leap we made after we moved to Frankfurt.

    Q: What was so exciting about "being digital"?

    Elisa: "Digital" gave us the possibility to cut up our material and to rearrange it without any limitations. "Digital" means your material never becomes solid, it remains liquid. And, to put it simply: digital machines are much smaller and easier to handle.

    Gary: You simply have to be digital when you are a multimedia artist. Think of the immense amount of material you´re working with - sounds, graphics, video sequences, texts. In order to conserve this material you need the digital medium, it helps you to save space. Furthermore, you can find certain data within a few seconds, and you can endlessly correct, exchange, combine or rearrange your material.

    Q: What about digital work in the Internet?

    Gary: A big chance for "digital bohemians"! Earlier generations of bohemian artists were working in their often quoted "ivory tower". They were isolated from society, sometimes dependent on rich representatives of church or industry, who provided them with money. That was totally different from archaic times when the shaman/artist was the spiritual center of a community and acted as an authority in all areas of daily life. Digital technology gives the artist the possibility to reclaim some of the status of a shaman. Of course, you´re working in your studio, isolated from society; but you are interconnected to thousands of other "ivory towers" all over the world via the Internet. Global communication happens, which is a quantum leap for bohemian artists.

    Elisa: Referring to this development F.E. Rakuschan, a Viennese theorist, talks of the "return of art into a social context". Of course, analogue mass media like "vinyl records" already made possible such a return of art into a social context. One record or CD could reach millions of listeners. But for the avantgarde artist of today, who is working in the field of multimedia, digital technology has opened totally new and infinite channels of communication. They are still working in something like "ivory towers", in their studios. But what in the past could reach only a few people now goes out to the whole world.

    Q: Which leads us to the second term, "Bohemian".

    Elisa: "Bohème" is an East European term...

    Gary: ...and originally refers to the country which was known as Checheslovakia until lately. But let us keep that aside. What we are interested in is the special status within society suggested by "Bohème".

    Elisa: Above all the term "Bohème" refers to groups of artists living and working outside the bourgeois society. The first time it occurred in this meaning was around 1830 in Paris, in the Quartier Latin and in Montmartre. Today, of course, you would have to redefine the term "bourgeois". What we have got at the end of the 20th century is something else than a "bourgeois" society - it is a mass society. Thus the "Bohème" of today does not only work apart from the "bourgeois" society, but apart from mass society.

    Gary: But the "Bohème" shouldn´t be mixed up with the so called "underground"! In post-Malcolm McLaren-times there is no "underground" anymore, the way I see it. The last struggles of the "underground" were initiated and artistically hyped to death by a multimedia artist, who used the Sex Pistols as his weapon. Just listen to the fundamentalist babble in the house/techno/drum&bass scene and know what I mean !

    Elisa: What is also important in connection with "Digital Bohemian Lifestyle" is a certain "elitist" behaviour. Of course, "elitist" doesn´t mean we need stupid status symbols like sports cars to express ourselves. It means an individual way of thinking, a certain attitude. For example, we can´t be together with too many people in one place. We don´t like raves, we are in favour of small club events. We constantly redefine our viewpoint: Why are we different? And where do we belong? It leads us to small "circles", which - thanks to digital technology - is something like a "global circle".

    Q: Who is part of these circles?

    Elisa: The new "circles", the new "digital bohemians", are people thinking digital. They represent what comes after the TV age. And, of course, they will produce new icons within the new media.

    Q: What is the idea behind your live appearances in small clubs?

    Elisa: Live appearances are an essential part of our concept. "Performing" is an archaic ritual with a great exstatic potential. But we try to redefine the forms and possibilities of a live performance. For example, we use our screens to "create" a room in a special way. And we added "CU/See me" videoconferencing technology.

    Gary: Our recent events were called "Gunafa Clubbing/Internet Lounge". Which leads us to another important term in connection with the "Bohème" - the "lounge", or the "salon". "Salons" came up in the 18th century, in Paris, Vienna and elsewhere. They were meeting points for smart people working in culture, politics, aesthetics and science. Very typical of "salons" was a crossover between several scenes. And that is what happened during all of our Station Rose events. Our events in Vienna, for example, brought together psychoanalysts, techno DJs, grunge musicians, philosophers, medical doctors, painters, multimedia artists and lawyers, discussing the same topics.

    Elisa: "Salons" can be an important impulse for social change. Digital technology and the Internet offers self confident circles enormous possibilities to communicate and exchange ideas. Hence the term "virtual community". What we witness in the Internet is the start of a new society.

    Q: And a new society will develop a new lifestyle. Which leads us to the third term of your slogan...

    Elisa: Right. "Lifestyle" is the most complex term of our slogan, because it contains the aspects of being digital and being bohème. Our lifestyle is a somewhat ascetic lifestyle, a "biological" lifestyle. And a very "sexual" lifestyle as well, though not in the sense of going out and doing one night stands ! It is a very hiTek & modest lifestyle, and the art and the products coming out are very opulent.

    Gary: "Lifestyle" is completely different from a "job". We are not doing a 9 to 5 job, we are digital bohemians 24 hours a day. And the way we work is completely our own choice. It rather depends on technical circumstances than on rules and regulations made by your boss.

    Elisa: Right. For example, editing a video is a very complex process, takes a lot of time. So when we want to edit a video we have to make sure that all the other things we need the computers for have been done. And while the machine edits the video we can go out or take a shower or...

    Gary: Digital bohemian lifestyle has to do with ecological discipline as well. Working and communicating via Internet, or sending letters via e-mail can have an effect on traffic. Fewer cars are needed, which keeps down the air pollution. It also means a reduction of package and paper. So "Digital Bohemian Lifestyle" is a way of communicating with the earth.

    Q: How important are social contacts in the "real world"? And what do you think of reports and articles claiming that the new media lead people into loneliness and isolation?

    Gary: I don´t understand these theories. People who pay for the Internet have chosen a strong medium of communication. Digital information may be different from "real communication", but it is still communication! And, of course, you don´t give up your social contacts in the material world. You are still a human being with a body made of flesh and blood, and you are in need of these contacts. Digital technology doesn´t keep you from going out. People who don´t go out anymore didn´t go out before as well.

    Elisa: Computers and the Internet are no opposites of social life - they add to your social life. You don´t lose something - you gain something.

    Q: How can I be a digital bohemian?

    Gary: That is a very strange question, Fett. Because being a digital bohemian is nothing you can learn. You can´t read a book or do your "digital bohemian" workouts. What you need is a kind of natural born creativity. It has a lot to do with art. It is not an attitude you can take on after you have left your office.

    Elisa: You need a certain chaotic consciousness. Scientists have proven that chaos really exists & works. And if you live and think in terms of "chaos" you develop a new way of life, which samples earlier ways of life. You become part of a new chaotic social system which has nothing to do with capitalism or communism anymore. You need a "Gunafa" consciousness, "Gunafa" means "chaos".

    Q: Can digital bohemians become rich? And are they allowed to?

    Elisa: A loud and clear "yes!" to both questions! I don´t believe in the old Christian attitude that artists have to be poor. It is just the other way round: artists should play with the material world, and they shouldn´t take the material world too serious. They for sure shouldn´t live and work in pain. For artists like ourselves an important point is to make money out of the digital bohemian lifestyle. We constantly have to think about the new Gunafa possee: How large is this possee? Who belongs to it? Who can buy, and what do we sell? As an artist you have to sell products like CDs and CD-Roms and sell your information via Internet. Multimedia artists pay for their art in the net at the moment, which is a kind of perverted situation. Like rock and pop artists who sell millions of CDs, multimedia artists have to sell their complex digital oeuvres.
    And this will happen - NOW! ;-)

    So, that´s it for now!
    Read more about coming projects in the next issue of "The Monthly Rosegraph".
    Send me pheedback to

    A Happy Spring!


    Issue 01 january 96.
    Issue 02 February 96.
    back to

    back to home