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  frankfurt - station rose

Goin' Gunafa in Germany

GUNAFA - Arabic slangword for "positive chaos", a cocktail of apparently incompatible ingredients.

In Germany , ISDN has been mainstream and affordable for the past year. Internet providers are at your service almost everywhere. All sorts of useful computer gadgets are available. Computer magazines crowd each other on the newsstand. The press has been talking "multimedia" and "internet" incessantly since 1995. Since then, those seeking status symbols have felt the urgent need of getting an email address. Sounds all very good, doesn't it?

Well, yes, if your interest is only in consuming media and not in making it. As digital artists living in Frankfurt, we must work, mostly alone, to discover the true purpose of all this great technology.

Time is perceived differently when life, art, and connectivity merge. We use the the term "Gunafa" (which we brought back from Egypt) to describe our daily life, with its constant and chaotic mix of analog and digital processes. What time means to us is in a constant state of change. What does it mean to wait or to act? What about something as constant as tempo?


Station Rose makes techno music. So, for us, tempo has some very specific meanings. In techno/house music the tempo, the BPMs (beats per minute) are essential (trance: around 130; hardcore: 140 and up; ambient: 90 and less; drum & bass: always fast enough; trip hop: 90 - 120), as well as the length of a track (will come down to 5 minutes in the near future).

Creating digitally, we find it hard to determine when a complex composition is "finished". So the final multimedia files materialize after an extra long-night session and one more day, when the whole thing gets remastered, and smoothed out. The result is rarely longer than 5 minutes of music, between 10-50 MB of QuickTime movies, 15 MB of Director-script, or a 10 minute live edit of a realtime MIDI session.

The task is then to play all the pieces together in realtime --that's where the freedom is. All you really need is love and a digital rucksack filled with computers, enough RAM, sequencers and MIDI keyboards, scanner, camera, microphone and diverse programs.

When a realtime-session is over -- it's time to turn our attention to the outside world. That could mean a trip down Bleidenstrasse or Toengesgasse. Lately, more than usual, it's meant going online. Whoever says computers make you feel isolated is wrong. It makes you concentrated. After the session we look for our friends, take care of our "Frankfurt" conference on Electric Minds, get in contact with people -- our Gunafa community on the net. The fact that communicating and doing art and business happen in the same "cockpit", makes it easy.

Money and technology are everywhere here in Germany. Even though everyone loves to discuss the web, and everyone has their favorite opinions, many seem to be quite uncertain about it, and run off as soon as the discussion gets at all specific. In far too many Germans' experience, it is much safer to talk nonsense with a loud voice than to risk change by learning and communicating. Using the net for creating, collaborating, socializing, community-building, these are all activities beyond the experience of most Germans.

Our Gunafa Community tries to get around such behavior, by actively exchanging techniques & ideas. Our slowly evolving scene is not limited to business and academic cyberghettos. There are many artists now, who are beginning to see themselves as entrepreneurs, with their own studios and financial responsibilities.

So, that's why we don't have time for too much talking. We want to help create the new world language of "multimedia", even though we are scattered over Germany, Austria, and elsewhere on the planet. In our Frankfurt conference in E-Minds, we post not only text, but vocals, soundz, grafix, and animations.

Check out some of our local community, as well. Visit "Infinite Tools" based in Munich, Johnny Haeusler in Berlin and an Austrian art project, that says "freie kunst & kultur gehoert ins internet".

1997 will see the end of the monopoly of DeuchesTelekom. Surfing the net will become cheaper, as will hardware and software costs. It will be interesting to observe how this will speed greater uses of the net in Germany.

However you look at time, there shall be many more of us by then. ;-)


spoon said:

The art world still runs on art that weighs and takes space. The reproducibility of digital art makes it difficult to value. So, if you follow that old model of art as owned matter, it looks one way. If you follow the more recent non-proprietary model of art, then it is the experience rather than the ownership that matters. Following the experience side leads us into the making side. This is something I am covering in my current SF report, how we are all helping to erase the lines around who can make art, and whether or not it needs to be called art, if it's not "sold" in the same way.

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