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The Net and Music_Conditions

With computer networks and the new opportunities they present we are still searching for specific characteristics and consequences of the Net for the creation of contemporary music. How do production, reception and distribution change, what conditions does the Net impose on us and what conditions do we impose on the Net - what do we demand of new technology in a 'real utopia of art'? "At the heart of a creative learning process, there is a shift from functional conditions in perception, thinking and reacting to mobile methods, which lead to independence and self-discovery. These imply productive thinking and action not directed at results, but rather at operative processes..." This quotation from 1972 did not even remotely refer to computers, but rather to 'new music'. Since the start of the century the discussion of 'individual and collective' in connection with 'democratization and freedom' has led to new directions of artistic production and new contexts for reception. In the 60s and 70s 'democratization' and 'interactivity', 'operative action' and 'creativity of all' were at the center of various artistic directions. The 90s provided the computer network. Again we come across similar approaches in this context. Now we might examine what the connections are over decades, where 'the Emperor's new clothes' are made or hoped for innovation and meaning emerge.

The musical program of net_condition can be taken as a point of departure for initial tentative assessments. The musical projects selected by Golo Fšllmer in net_musician allow the visitor to explore various directions, which are provided for us as we 'play music' in the Net. The three installations presented by the Institute for Music and Acoustics within the exhibition present disarranging accents: Truth in the Clouds presents a platform to contact networks of another magical type and to make them sound. Musiktruhe Rheingold feeds Internet radio stations into a 50s living room as a time machine, while ¢apital magneti¢ transforms a bank automatic teller into a music machine adapted to personal credit cards.

In a Cyber-Session between California and Baden the musicians are directly linked up via the Internet. Scanner on the other hand filters the initial material for his music from the data flows on the Internet and from the networks of wireless communication surrounding us. In a concert, the special ZKM audio network becomes an integral part of the presentations: a new type of version of the live electronic classic I'm Sitting in a Room by Alvin Lucier uses several rooms in the ZKM simultaneously as resonators. Fibre Jelly is a re-mix of six live electronic artists in separate studios linked via the internal fiber optic network dedicated to audio only. For the opening of net_condition, The Users will present their Symphony #2 for Dot Matrix Printers, a network of computers and dot matrix printers printing and making sounds, and Mark Trayle asks the audience to lend him some credit cards for a performance of ¢apital magneti¢. It should be noted that the Net has at this point in time mainly far-reaching consequences for the distribution of music. From this there are changes in the economic and cultural conditions of music-producers and listeners. It does not yet appear to be directly evident as to how the Net will entice a specific, different and new music.

Johannes Goebel


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