Insides: Patrik Lechner

Due to Covid-19 we are in lockdown, with clubs being closed. As we still want to keep up with musicians and DJs around, and feel that digital streams are irretrievably lacking the social energy of live music events and are not able to compensate for it, we are looking for consolation in words. In the end music is a social practice. Insides features voices from Vienna’s electronic music scene, looking to exchange ideas, find mutual inspiration and exit strategies, entering personal realms.

Hello, how are you?

It is a good day today.

Where are you right now?

I’m Vienna based. I have a working space in the 14th district which is perfectly fine. At the moment humidity is at 65% and my victory over the rats is old and lasting.

Which sounds surround you?

My roof started crackling in an unusual and discomforting way today. Probably this is caused by a rise in temperature (sun shining on it, heating it up) which I usually miss since this time of the day is not my favorite. OE1 is also contributing to the soundscape. Argentinierstrasse forever!

Have you been productive so far? What are you working on?

I have done some ‘renovation’ of my sound system, some acoustic treatment as a favor for my neighbour, worked on a paper for DAFX20 conference, working on some new tracks, made a movie for a piece by Thomas Mertelseder, have some kinetic/audio/visual stuff with Peter Kutin and Mathias Lenz going on, Released my first EP on Spotify, did other AI related research etc.

“I can only see a greater division.”

What inspires you right now?

Technically, I’m inspired by physical simulations and AI. E.g. Karplus-Strong synthesis using non-linear allpass filters. Other than that, the sink in my bathroom has developed a weird multicolored spot that is visible on my first album on spotify. I continue to follow its development.

Philosophical topics such as violence, epistemology, cybernetics, AI decision making, consciousness, belief, authorship and authority, a connection between AI/Technology and mythos/religion/morals/authority/a true *deus ex machina* and its consequences are what I also think about a lot.

For Mythos+Technology see e.g.:
Temple OS
Unser Stephansdom (search for ‘handy’ in this pdf, you don’t need to read the whole thing.)

For Morals+AI see e.g.:
Moral Machine
Can you make AI fairer than a judge? Play our courtroom algorithm game

Reading material you can recommend?

Canetti, Masse und Macht
Farnell, Designing Sound
Flusser, Bochumer Vorlesungen
Pessoa, Das Buch der Unruhe
Franz Kafka, Das Schweigen der Sirenen
Learn how to do AI yourself. go. play around. read up. 

To listen?

(in order for interesting listening experience )
Raymond Scott, Soothing Sounds For Baby Vol. 1 (1962)
Faktor4 aka drillobite
King Poet Flati with Dr Katz
Marco Casavino
autechre live in glasgow 
M.A. Numminen, Ich will frei sein

To watch?

(no particular order)
Max Frisch, Biedermann und die Brandstifter, mit Helmut Qualtinger
AI podcast, e.g. with George Hotz, Donald Knuth, David Chalmers, Noam Chomsky…: 
The world of Alexander Kluge
Martin Heidegger communication-breakdown with a buddhist monk:
Rudi Dutschke und Daniel Cohn-Bendit Diskussion mit Springer Verlag
Get to know John Conway, who just died
Vilem Flusser just had his 100th birthday and 40 years ago understood todays world better than most of us now

What’s your opinion on live-streams? You see any alternative ways to support the music community?

From one day to the other, we all went through a “Personenvereinzelungsanlage” a “Schleuse”. The whole internet with its current technologies on top still is a Personenvereinzelung. Additionally, “Wenn dein Starker Arm es will, stehen die Maschinen still” seems to be describing the current situation quite nicely. It used to feel like an empty shell of ideology, now we feel what it meant and how powerless and individualized people became. Nobody gives a shit about your strong arm, the machines are running nicely.
The community, in a sense of a subculture fighting for its rights, subsistence, freedom and expression, is unimportant right now. This is a time for solidarity. The music community needs to stand together(classic, folklore, experimental etc.) and it needs to stick together with the barbers, beisl-owners, and pizza bakers. “Was machen 2 Linke wenn sie sich treffen? Sich spalten”. This needs to be over. It does not happen everyday that the different communities share problems so visibly. People need money. This farce of a government that constantly demonstrates its sheer incapability of at least conforming with the legislature, its inability and unwilligness of communicating laws in an unambiguous way and its disability of just doing their job in a professional way whilst pushing a authoritarian meritocratic agenda with a “son-in-law face” is pushing society further apart.
Art in public spaces, interventions, my god, do a flashmob or whatever. Streams are nice. But it seems to show that we forgot that the internet is not the only thing connecting us. For many, this is a hard time to stay motivated and streams do help a bit I think.

What are you missing most? What are you afraid of?

I miss nothing very much. I really missed having a beer in a beisl. Now its possible again with an arbitrary limit to 23h. Whatever, randomness is inspiring.
I miss seeing my students kind of (I teach quite a lot).
I’m afraid of my roof collapsing in this very moment, but I believe in the wood giving more acoustic warning signals before that.
I’m afraid that many people might not be in an easy situation right now, being forced into desperation.
I’m scared how simple it is to re-mobilize peoples patriotic feelings, how simple it is to open a „tir de barrage“ of fear in order to blind the mass, how easy it is to put people’s little houses on fire in order to make them run out as obedient brutal judges over the non-conformist.

What will change you think?

The body takes on a new role, at least in personal encounters. *Disgust*, nausée, might be a feeling that comes out more. State advocated racism maybe more (see China). I believe it is hard to find a healthy non-necrophile (in the sense of Erich Fromm) relation to the cleanness, which seems necessary for many endangered people and a matter of responsibility for others. The virus as a topic might get more (well deserved) attention as a snippet of code, a piece of information flying around, making us live and die, being on the brink of being alive itself. Maybe individual life and death as eternal topics of art can rise again. Maybe nothing will change. Maybe learning that even extreme global irritations of our highly optimized and therefore highly sensitive system are not enough to make us re-think our situation resulting in a greater pessimism.
It is hard to non-naively postulate a positive outcome of this situation. I can only see a greater division. I have the time of my life. Reflecting, making music, less traveling back and forth between universities for teaching. Other people lost a lot. As Zizek said, I don’t take this new-age perspective of a nice meditation period that will make us all appreciate life more.
Still, collapse is a chance. Refugees welcome. Maybe we learn not to think about semi-distant futures (“oi oi oi, global warming will give us a hard time in 50 years”), shit hits the fan now. Political positions are in great need, intellectually and politically people are atrophied. The right looks as if they had positions (lets go on, outside are problems but we fight them), the left looks as if they are clueless (lets go on, we have problems inside, but we will solve them by robot-communism, workers unions for workers who won’t exist soon, and ignorant semi-idiology). Democracy is at a weak spot and this is exploited by politicians and marketing institutes. A self-fulfilling prophecy of our dark future brought our visions into a defending state of shock that needs to be addressed and replaced by an offensive affirmative form of dreaming. From “Das Schweigen der Sirenen”, Kafka:
“Beweis dessen, daß auch unzulängliche, ja kindische Mittel zur Rettung dienen
Um sich vor den Sirenen zu bewahren, stopfte sich Odysseus Wachs in die
Ohren und ließ sich am Mast festschmieden. Ähnliches hätten natürlich seit jeher alle
Reisenden tun können, außer denen, welche die Sirenen schon aus der Ferne
verlockten, aber es war in der ganzen Welt bekannt, daß dies unmöglich helfen
konnte. Der Sang der Sirenen durchdrang alles, und die Leidenschaft der
Verführten hätte mehr als Ketten und Mast gesprengt. Daran aber dachte Odysseus
nicht, obwohl er davon vielleicht gehört hatte. Er vertraute vollständig der Handvoll
Wachs und dem Gebinde Ketten und in unschuldiger Freude über seine Mittelchen
fuhr er den Sirenen entgegen.
Odysseus, sagt man, war so listenreich, war ein solcher Fuchs, daß selbst die Schicksalsgöttin nicht in sein Innerstes dringen konnte. Vielleicht hat er, obwohl das mit Menschenverstand nicht mehr zu begreifen ist, wirklich gemerkt, daß die Sirenen schwiegen, und hat
ihnen und den Göttern den obigen Scheinvorgang nur gewissermaßen als Schild

What is the gig or occasion you were most looking for, that was cancelled in this period?

Doing an Artist-in-Residence thing with Peter Kutin at SAT (Société des arts technologiques) in Montreal. We’ll probably do it next year. Who cares.

Are you still able to pay your rent?

Yes. Teaching and Research just still goes on and I spend less money than usual.


Patrik Lechner