beyond ascii--Station Rose

"…the netscene wants to stay ascii…"

Station Rose are Elisa Rose and Gary Danner. They are what could be
called a multimedia group, mainly doing live performance and webcasts.
They have been doing that for a long time now, so it seemed time to ask
them a little bit about their motives and conclusions after 10 years of
indulgement in network culture. I received a book and a cd, for my
enjoyment and as press material. The music is not my cup of tea mostly,
but: the cd's first song "mini hub and baby hub" is on my list of
personal favorits of 1999: it is an eerie sing-along for me and my six
year-old. For the rest the amount of condensed work in the book is

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Josephine Bosma: You are both artists and organisors. What came first
and how do the two relate? Don't they 'bite' each other?

Gary Danner: Of course the artist came first. But when we finished our
studies of art at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, it was
simply a necessity to organize, to be able to do your thing.
"Hypermedia, networking, techno or clubbing" were no common terms for
the art scene in the late eighties ! Then, when we lived in Cairo
1988/89, the local artists/actors/media people, after being confronted
with our concepts and art, called us business men, as Station Rose does
not act, play in a band, paint or write poetry.

Yes, the artist and the organizer bite each other sometimes, especially
when there is too much organizing to be done, and you only get to work
on a composition on from 2 a.m. On the other hand, we lost too much time
with persons pretending/trying to be managers, so we do it on our own.
Certain segments are now handled by professionals outside STR of course,
like the distribution of our audio products, or being present at art

Elisa Rose: Sure the artist comes first. This is our profession. To be
an organiser was always a strategy to survive in the electronic jungle.
We accept it, cause it has to be, but we have to be very severe in our
time schedule. If we wouldn't, the 2 would bite each other, no question.
What we try to stick to is something like that: so and so many hours a
day for the organisation, gives so and so many hours for the art
production in the night. When we started with webcasting in 1/99 on a
regular basis, we made that even better: on the 2 days of the webcasts
there is very little organisation, and a lot of concentration on art,
the other days are sometimes the other way round. All in all we tried a
lot of different models during the years, had different assistants as
well as managers, but nothing really worked. So we came back to STR- the
duo as the tough little unit that cooperates with different partners,
like the ditributors of our cds, like galleries…

One main problem in the media world today is that there is a lot of talk
about art meets music and so on, but basically the scenes didn't connect
at all during the 90-ies. They are still very seperate. Which means if
there is a dj at an opening of an exhibition, the scenes don't merge
only because of that. The dj is only a party attribute you can book. The
gallerist doesn't have to deal with that person, this is not part of
that business. The same goes for the music scene: a video is good for a
band/electronic music project- which again can be ordered, but the video
artist mustn't be sold, the music is sold.

So when we looked for a manager for Station Rose, we very soon found out
that this person always gets problems on a social level, cause he either
speaks the language of the music or the art scene. So he only was
accepted in 1 scene at a time; instead of being supported by that
person, Gary and me had less time than before. Making a simultanous
translation between the different codes of 2 scenes was too much. we
were not interested, stopped that sort of thing. These days we talk to
both scenes ourselves, and later try to delegate. We always have to keep
enough time for art.

Bosma: What do you want to reach, do you have a goal?

Rose: We want to always have enough time to produce art, which is so
deep and intense. When we dive into a session, we than see how much
concentration it demands. We have to sell more & more Station Rose art,
we produce a lot. We still believe 100% in the value of art. If there
wasn't art, life would be a horror scenario - a world out of washing
powder sold by slick advertisers. A big shopping mall as Bruce Sterling
said in '90. The importance of art is higher than ever before. Art plays
a key role. There is nothing that could be instead of art. Art is the
most important thing. Theory, criticism, politics - it all comes after.

We try to live multimedia art as a next language created out of soundz &
visuals. We want to be one of the biggest avantgarde webcast stations as
well as keeping making cd's, vinyls, cdroms, exhibitions, performances,
tours, being on the road playing live as well as @home. The aspect of
performing inside media-art is important. These realtime-moments are in
between material-immaterial. It takes hours to build virtual rooms, to
bring them to life and they are gone & will never come back the same way
as soon as the (analogue) lights are switched on.

Bosma: Are audio and video your favorite media? Connected to this: could
you tell me who and what have been influences in your audio and video

Danner: We have very strict rules in creating our art: Lisa is
responsible for everything visible, and I am responsible for everything
audible. We *never* cross over the other's territory. As our
workstations are connected (over MIDI), and we produce in the same room
just 1 meter away from each other, we interact all the time. Speaking is
forbidden while creating, because words are prone to mess up the flow.
During composing, or after the piece is finished, the concept can be put
to paper, but never before.

Audio is one of my favorite media, also because it is possible to make
money by selling CDs and vinyls, but there is also webcasting.
Webcasting is like an ongoing training for performing live, twice a
week. Influences in my music have been punk, when I started to become
something like a professional musician, and after that Throbbing
Gristle, Chris & Cosey, Acid House in the late eighties, and the facets
of electronic music that emerged from that.

Rose: Audio and video together are our favourite media. They come in so
many different ways, which is important. Composing live together in what
we call "multimedia jam sessions" is the key here. We play together,
very often connected over MIDI, which makes us synched 100%, create a
new piece, later record it digitally on DV-tapes. This can become a
vinyl as well as a cdrom or a video or an installation or a webcast or
whatever we will need for a certain project. Recently we composed very
often in realtime during a webcast. So we either record it on the fly,
or do it later the same evening. Composing in cyberspace in realtime is
extreme. I love that. Because it is all digital, we recently bring in
analogue stuff as well, as an oppostion, to make it more gunafa (like
Gary plays bass & guitar & samples that and me bringing in
vocals/lyrics.) This new tendancy is not calculation, it just happend
during the summer webcasts.

I have to emphasize the importance of the live moment. Playing live is
the most intense thing. So the only decision before starting is, whether
we want to record the session, or just play it once & never see/hear it
again. With already over 70 webcasts it would be too much material to
keep. We are not the ORF (Austrian Broadcasting Company) to archive that
way, cause then we again we would need a person to do that job.
Influences are diverse visual artists, club culture early 90-ies,
video-art, almost not at all TV.

Josephine Bosma: As you are one of the few and rare longtime
experimentors, can you tell me what it is like to live through the
different developments, to deal with both newcomers and technology

Rose: We -are- longtime experimentors. To deal with
newcomers is always a weird situation, sometimes boring. But we try to
stay nice. Basically if we told people (who weren't online) about our
online experience & projects in the early 90-ies, they just didn't
understand what we were talking about. So a converstation was not
possible on that topic. When later the same people finally went online,
they were so excited about that fact, that they weren't in the mode for
communication either. So for us it was much more effective to be with
people online that were early cyberspace settlers as well.

But sure this is not possible that often. When we went online in '91 it
was almost exclusively the WELL people we had contact to. The reason
was: besides 2 or 3 europeans there were no others from this continent.
It was really so much more a californian movement. When we talked to
onliners that came in in '95 and they were in an exstatic mood about
their new situation, we had already a daily online contact with the WELL
community going for 5 years. Sometimes I get the impression that the
european art (net/critique) scene is anti-california, cause they are
jealous and know they missed the early years. I can understand that. It
would drive me mad, if I had missed those years. I was the driving force
inside STR to go online, couldn't wait any longer. What a strange
technical situation- an amiga 500 plus a 2400 baud modem. We stayed
online since then. We will do so in the future.

I try to do as much as I can in the net- I really do not want to deal
with a situation like that in a few years : we could have done something
in '99 not to make it a pure shopping mall… I feel a responsibility
here. I was trained by the first "onliners" from the WELL. They have a
strong feeling for community. They taught me to have that, too. I am
basically not a good follower, try to think about things myself, but I
know the roots. The good thing about the net now is that so many people
are here in the meantime we deal & communicate with, that they can be
reached fast & they can reach us fast.

A project like webcasting today is already working as good as making a
homepage in '95, which is great. We can do all the technical stuff,
programming & sending from home. Technology updates- means spending much
time updating. No way around that.

Bosma: Also you appear to have a style and way of working that has a
positivim that seems almost inappropriate, and which seems to be on the
edge of Californian dreaming ("Cyberspace is our land"). Are you

Rose: Some of the answers have already been answered before. "Cyberspace
is our land" is meant seriously. We are talking here as austrians living
in exile, as europeans living in the middle of europe, and as artists
who found their "new home" online. Concerning positivism: I think being
"critical" today is often too easy. It is much easier to criticise than
say: I believe in this, cause then you have to fight for it.

STR-positivism has been developed over years, it is hard training on a
daily basis. The californian dreaming is all explained above. It has
these 60-ies roots with community consciousness that spread into
cyberspace. Europe shouldn't be too jealous, just accept the facts. And
do you know what turbo-capitalism made out of Californian dreaming ? SF
is like frankfurt in the meantime, only money counts. Money, money,
money, make more, faster, have more employees, a bigger car, house,
office. California is really beta-testing extreme capitalism now. They
had the community movement throughout the 90-ies, and now have to deal
with the opposite.

Danner: Of course we are serious! Positivism/California Dreaming is such
a powerful weapon in the entertainment/art business. This for the first
time came to my mind in the Punk times when I realized in the late
seventies that it was more shocking to say "I dig Paul McCartney" than
saying "I want to have sexual intercourse with an animal". When it is so
easy to cause trouble, why not stick to it? Besides that, I really dig
the Beatles ;-)

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STATION ROSE hypermedia (Elisa Rose & Gary Danner)
Frankfurt - Vienna - Cyberspace.
+ Webcastings on a regular basis. realtime -20sec.
+ homepage
+ STR-Community: the Frankfurt Conference
+ Gunafa Label "Playing Now" CD, "live @home" VINYL out now; "PN-world
tour" starting > Oct'99
+ "1st decade" (1988-98) - Das BUCH. edition selene. ISBN: 3-85266-082-3