"Arabian Sands" Gawlik und Schorm

//: notes

In March 89 Station Rose left the field research camp in Cairo for 1 month to come back to Vienna to open their solo show at Gawlik and Schorm gallery.

Exhibition at Gallery Gawlik & Schorm, Vienna 03.89
(Vienna intermezzo for 1month)

Standing in murky brackish water can have grave consequences. They were, in any case, lethal for Abdel Halim Hafez - Nile worms. And if the singer was already popular while he was still alive, he has been positively idolized since his death. It is almost impossible to find an Egyptian household without him: his hits blare out of radios and cassette players by the millions. Musician Gary Danner is sitting in the Field Station Rose, set up on the upper floor of a house in the Shara el Faluga in Cairo, absorbed in his work. The harmonies of Halem´s "Ah Wag" will provide the structure for his new piece; after all, he practiced a song he had written with his ever-changing group Die Nervösen Vögel - and which he had pressed on his self-produced maxi-single "Sex Magic" with the name "I Want You," a title very close to the Egyptian one. Everything else Danner collects with microphone and walkman in the way of sound material, for example in the Shara el Manial, Shara Musky, Suleyman Pasha Street or on Midan Ataba, is selected and fed into a digital-sampling keyboard. He took the right percussion sample from the Palmira nightclub together with Elisa Rose, who, with an eye to later use, concentrates largely on collecting visual data by means of video and compact camera. At some later point Danner drives to the Al Haram Recording Studio not far from the Gizeh pyramids, jams a few additional bars with Egyptian musicians, and has the recording engineers make a master tape of the audio odds and ends of recordings and samples. After that he produces a radio commercial for an Il Neeri brand Saudi Arabian tea product. Ornamental patterns by Elisa Rose are produced on the station´s PC, then stored in its digital archives. Transformed into laser prints behind the front panel of neon shop window displays, they manipulate the user to experience himself as an individual embedded within the energy continuum of the cosmos. Rose processes the green neon lights prominently affixed to the portals and minarets of the Cairo mosques into light objects with spiritual appeal. Its hard-core version, for art lovers that is, would be something like the following: Ali Baba sneaks into the house of a Japanese disguised as a moslem - unrelated by blood or marriage to the Yasuda Seimai Insurance Company - who has precipitously fled to sunny Egypt after his involvement in a business scandal is found out; and Ali Baba runs into not Vince (!) but Dan Flavin. Ali and Dan take a fancy to one another, which they express in unbridled intercourse. The result is objects equipped with white and green fluorescent lamps which easily converge with Venturi´s Learning from Las Vegas.

Rose & Danner operate both in a technical-media way and an archaic-mythical one. Both artists & product designer & self-made manager they generally prefer to formulate their auditory and visual interpretations of the world in popular languages, employing commonly available vehicles of everyday myths, such as pop songs, fashion, commercials, video clips, computer graphics, neon shop-window displays, etc. They are fascinated primarily, however, by telematics, which such artists as Douglas Davis, Gene Youngblood, Roy Ascott, Robert Adrian X and Eric Gidney have been concerned with for more than a decade. As a result of this, they see their present work as a systematic exercise toward a future practice of art, in which art can only be created through participation and processes, in the linking together of telecommunications and computer systems - provided the general socio-economic framework is favourable (?!) - into a supernetwork: an interactive, telematic environment with a constant exchange of image, text and sound.

Artists still have a very low awareness of an "ecology of telematic culture" (Roy Ascott) at a time in which business, finance and industry are accelerating the construction of data-processing domains protected by the military. A majority of them still prefers to perpetuate a traditional art which moves within historically sanctioned forms, which not only serves the plutocrats as status symbol, but is also exploited by them for the same mercantile strategies, because they both stabilize and promote the economy. Good times for art ? Certainly not for one which attempts to assert its claims to giving meaning to life, to redressing every form of reductionism, in short: to rebel against the adversities in the Global Village. Or, as author and theorist Gene Youngblood, who lives and teaches in Los Angeles, said in a radio interview with Paul Brennan: "... everyone in every country in the world is now suffering from a system of perpetual imperialism in which a single class, a single caste of technocrats determines how the world is described, which also means that they determine the way they are talked about, and also determine what people can imagine and desire, and what not ... I want to see the rise of what I call Autonomous Reality Communities. These would be communities of people of politically significant magnitude in terms of numbers, defined not by geography, because they are realized by means of telecommunications networks ... geographic communities are for ants and termites ... what matters for humans is consciousness, ideology and desire ..."

Arabian Sands is the title of a book in the library of the Cultural Attaché of the Austrian Embassy in Cairo.

F.E.Rakuschan ____________________________________Translation: David Mannelli