Ebene 7 was the name of a very special club location in Frankfurt, on top of Zeilgalerie. At 11am on Sundays once a month, we experimented with laser and bodysonic soundsystem there. The London Sunday Times wrote a 1-page article about one of our performances (with Terrence McKenna).
Seven stories above Frankfurt, in Zeilgalerie, the city´s most expensive shopping centre, Europe´s most unusual monthly club is, well, happening. Advances lasers pierce a dark dance-floor area surrounded by five large screens, which flash text and spin a variety of dizzying coloured images. But this is no normal 1990s dance dive. At least 50 of the 300 people present are sitting cross-legged on the dance-floor, the better to feel the dream inducing rhythms being being pumped out by massive speakers under the floorboards. Nobody is drinking, drugging or even dancing. Welcome to the New Age nightlife.
It could be a raver´s nightmare. In fact it´s a “Public Brain Session” by the ex-Viennese performance artists Station Rose. Elisa Rose (visuals) and Gary Danner (sound) are attempting to hypnotise people into an alternate level of consciousness. Curiously for such an event, it also includes a lecture by West Coast psychedelic-shaman, Terence McKenna.
“Opto-acoustic information is totally stimulating,” explains Elisa, referring in typical high-tech jargon to the intense audio-visual bombardment of the Public Brain Session. “Like psychedelic drugs, it is an enhancer it reinforces certain states of concentration.”
“An important part of the Public Brain Session,” says Gary, “is that you don´t hear music with traditional structures and rhythms, and you don´t see a pre-prepared, reconstructed 3D world on the screens. The sound and visual information is presented in a way that triggers your own creativity.”
“That´s the joy of cyberspace, the electronic world where we can all meet up,” says Gary. “Even if it´s someone in California just typing messages, the train of thought is visible on our screens. It´s called telepresence, being in the same place via an electronic network.”
Tonight´s audience has the aura of a religious meeting, soaking up McKenna´s soundbites. “Ever since intelligence crawled out of the sea we have sought to free ourselves from matter,” he drawls. That quest is almost over. The laws of nature are about to end. Prepare for impact.”
The Public Brain Session is more than just an externalised mind machine (the relaxation gimmick – blinking Walkman and red light sunglasses – of the 1980s). People aren´t joylessly isolated here, and although the wealth of visual information and speed of flashing light is disorientating, it is a pleasant disorientation, heightened by the relentless rumble of theta-waves which, at 300 beats per minute, are around two-and-a-half times the tempo of current dance music.
“Theta frequencies,” Gary explains, “are the vibrations of sound and visual information measured on the brain when it is in REM or deep meditation. Beta-waves are what you experience during daytime consciousness and stress. Alpha-waves are a stage more relaxing, concentrated and intelligent. Theta-waves are the crème de la crème of frequencies, the dream state.”
The Station Rose duo are testing software and hardware for Commodore, Apple and Atari, producing a 15-year history of Ars Electronica on CD-ROM, and looking for a record deal. They are performing Neurodisco Fab 505 at the Museum of Applied Arts in Vienna on October 21, 22 and 23.
“The Public Brain Session,” says Elisa, “is a more rigoriously conceived and executed version of techno trance and Sixties freak-outs with LSD and loud music. It´s the highest level of trance. Like the 1960s gurus, we believe that the more people feel better, the better everything is.
By Simon Witter, 09/26/1993