Podcast – Letter from Linz, interview with Wolfgang Dorninger

Wolfgang Dorninger, resident of Linz, teacher, musician, sound designer, veteran of the cassette culture days sets up an exhibition that he never had thought of in his life. I spent some days at the exhibition Cassette Culture Node.Linz.

His story starts of with a visit of the firemen to his home and ends with words of hope. In between we talk about the past, the experiences, the stories of friendship and touring the USA. We talk about the present, the identity, outside the institutional circuit. We talk about the future, the local scene in Linz and how this connects to any other local scene worldwide.

Wolfgang takes on various identities in this interview. He is a teacher, a musician, a sound designer, a veteran, but above all a great storyteller.

The interview was made on location and was directly recorded onto tape with a sony walkman.

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Last year in Vienna

The video was made by Markus Gradwohl. My performance at Zentrale in Vienna was organised by Clemens Hausch.

A report from my visit to Vienna in that same period is on Polish Journal 5

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Story of a tape…not anymore at walking distance, part 6

One of the reasons why I liked this niche that I became part of was the diversity. Everyone involved had a clear mind of its own and inspiring DIY-ethics. I have done a lot of touring, especially in Europe. Because a great number of my performances were on a door money only basis, I could meet a lot of people who maneuvered at the edge of society. The places they ran mirrored this situation. Most of those places existed as long as politics, real estate developers or neighbours ignored the activities. Fatality met with optimism. Today’s action could easily become tomorrow’s memory. Most of the people involved relied on their talent. The scene was marginalised already, so what was there to lose?

The existence at the very edge of society brought also a great sense of freedom. That was the one striking binding factor. Everything that happened was a product of taste, talent and commitment. If someone wanted to do something there was no-one to oppose the action. Why should you? People were curious about the result. The audience was curious. Artists in this niche don’t have a repertoire. They go by intuition, sometimes improvising with the venue and the mood of the moment.

I met a lot of people on my tours. I met a lot of people when I set up shows in Berlin. Never did I experience a case of public shaming and muting an artist. Never did I experience the eager willingness to campaign against an artist. I’ve never heard of reviewers taking down their reviews.

My contributions to this niche are many. Articles, releases, organising shows and festivals, offering radio as a laboratory and a platform. All this doesn’t count if you announce that you will release a tape by said artist. Then you will be confronted with a group of people who act according to their law and order. A group of people who think they have the moral right to condemn an artist, and condemn the person(s) who dare(s) to get in touch with that artist and offers a collaboration.

Group thinking based on an identity is a problem, a huge problem. And it doesn’t do our society no good. It opens the way to acceptation of authoritarianism. In this little niche of ours it opens ways to acceptation of people telling you who to deal with and who not, what to do and what not to do. If such an opinion and attitude is a widespread phenomenon in this niche of ours, then I have accomplished something of which I thought it would never be possible again, it is, to do something controversial.

All this happened on the internet, on social media. Opinions, heated discussions, rants, all deposited in the giant global waste container.

Artists are intuitive people. The closest you can come to their thoughts, visions, dreams and taste is -in this specific case- listen to the sounds that he will bring together on the tape that I will release on staaltape. And unless you are his girlfriend, part of his family or close friend you will not have any other way to form an opinion about him.

I close with a fragment from my book Deep Poland.

The Austrian-Hungarian empire lived on in the memory of the former inhabitants. An incredible flow of works of art, theories and thoughts floated above Europe, as if a dying flower had launched the last cloud of seeds into the sky. Millions of stories buzzed through streets, on squares, in households, under sheets. Stories that continued to shape a memory, and define villages and towns alike. A whole population got orphaned when the empire vanished.

It is impossible to hold on to something that has disappeared a long time ago. The light comes from a different angle, from the future, because, this, this collective psychosis, this holding on to a western culture based on sentiments, dreams and love, is not real. At the same time it is impossible to define the new reality. The global villages don’t have names yet. The language doesn’t exist. What I can say about it, is very speculative. Lifestyles are defined by a delicate understanding of happiness. Everything that can cause stress or fear is banned. The spheres change form or stop to exist when fear or stress takes over. Time is experienced differently in every sphere. But all those spheres are connected. People who have a smartphone or a tablet are part of this special place. The spheres go up and down like bubbles. It is a beautiful dance. In fact they look like cellular organisms. They bounce and float, join each-other or create new bubbles. Together they move over a vast desolate land that is defined by all that is left.

 

 

 

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Story of a tape…not anymore at walking distance, part 5

An identity can be monetized, demonized, victimized, adored, glorified. Join a group with an identity and you will need to accept a set of rules. Live with that set of rules for some time and you will forget that they exist at all. For sure I have an identity, but I’m still figuring out the details of it. The more you find out, the more you find out that you don’t know anything at all. That’s not my quote, by the way. If your identity is under constant pressure or scrutiny, the logic result is that you will draw a line between you and the other. Very closed groups built walls.

When I sent out the tweet of which Damian thought it pushed him into silence I received one reaction from the president of the cassette scene. “Maybe it is slowly time to retire” he suggested. He added that the cassette scene did not need my rubbish.

Internet can be a vile medium. I don’t know about you, but I am completely defenseless to attacks or harsh emails. I feel a psychological punch and it affects my well-being. I will try to explain this reaction, but please don’t consider it as some universal truth.

Social media and the internet-as-it-is are addictive. It makes you enter in a flow of self-reflection and self-affirmation. It makes you feel that you exist. It taps energy, and you get an affirmation of your existence, your intelligence, your taste, your wit etc in return. In a way you are dancing in front of the mirror, and sometimes you are dancing with your eyes closed and follow the moves of your perfect self. And even if you are involved in a creative process on your computer, you are still defenseless, captured in a flow, helped by deep concentration. Disturbance of this process can have nasty effects.

Together with Adrian Shephard I run Radio On. We have a lot of great contributors, and we find a lot of great contributions. One of those was by Nishant Shan, who spoke at a conference organised by disruption network lab in Berlin. I have scheduled the lecture again on our radio. Among other things, you will hear him talk about Amanda Todd.  What happened to her is one extreme of public shaming. But where there is an extreme, there is also an origin with different damaging effects.

When I noticed the tweets arrive one after the other, all with the intention of publicly shaming someone, I  felt that this was not a good thing.

I didn’t retweet. I offered my help.

Last words in part 6

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Story of a tape…not anymore at walking distance, part 4

These days the AfD, a German political party of the extreme-right, wants to install a platform (on a website) where pupils can denounce teachers (publish their names) who spread anti-AfD or left-orientated ideologies in the classroom. The state now wants to check if this AfD initiative is against the law. That is one of the advantages of living in a country with a constitution and an independent judicial system.

Another advantage is that I can write what I like and that I don’t risk to get exiled from my country, or expelled from the country I live in.

There are other countries with other systems. And there are organisations that apply different laws. They poison journalists, cut them to pieces, rape and murder them or simply shoot them, for no other reason that they have spread inconvenient news.

Now the least you can say is that we live in times of turmoil. There is a true massacre going on on social media. Where and why did this all start?

Hans Magnus Enzensberger said that the 1968 revolt was about changing relations, changing the relation between doctor and patient, between professor and student, between parents and child, between man and woman. Ever since then, in our western world, religion, traditional systems, ideologies lost their influence on public life. There is no more place to hide. Everyone has to think for themselves and make up their own mind. A new common ground has to be found. And I hope that common ground will be reason and dialogue.

There is a movement that spearheads changes in society. The discussion is about gender. And maybe this discussion exists because already on a broader scale the traditional man-wife relationship is under scrutiny. And yes, maybe it is an interesting experiment to raise your children in a gender-neutral way and change the traditional man-woman role models. After all, gender has nothing to do with biology.

Radical changes, radical movements should be prepared to encounter radical opposition. The views will be countered with different ideas. I think this is normal. Radicalism often leads to emotional involvement. All the retorical tricks will be applied. What sounds like an offensive rant sounds different when you strip it from the emotions. So instead of %&*,<<<#©ø you could understand: “Hey, I differ with your view, could you please give it a second thought. Do you care to discuss this?” But the other radical party doesn’t answer. The retoric counterattack is to label the other person as some kind of phobe. Attack the ideology means attacking the leader, in this case, the movement that they think to defend and protect.

It all happened on the internet.

Now, can you imagine what the discussion could have been like if the people involved had met eachother, not once, but a lot of times. One to one, no alcohol, no drugs, no weapons, no sleepless nights, just words and the willingness to listen to eachother.

But no.

There is a clear line.

More in part 5

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