9 years ago, in October of 2008 we created the Shituationist Institute, an ultra-negative think tank and dance formation. Our central concern is the rave continuum, and how its potentials survive in contemporary club scenes and irregular events, but we also write about contemporary art and the tradition and reformulations of critical theory.
We understand raves as collective artworks, which sets a different focus than the common understanding of raves as a kind of dancing concert with pre-recorded machine music that is mixed by the master of ceremony in an ingenious way. He shall guide us, he shall react to the crowd, etc. We focus on what happens beyond that, what is enabled by the situation of people gathering in a rather dark room with loud repetitive music. What is a rave, how can we do a philosophy of raves, or rather: how can raves be philosophy, how can we do a non-philosophy (see François Laruelle) of raves.
The long history of raves can be told in a short way: People a long long time ago were dancing in the ruins of wild nature that started giving way to delicate humans. Then they were dancing in dark corners of cities while capitalism was sleeping. Then in the ruins of cities like post-fordist Chicago. And today in the spectacle of the ruins of cities. For example in Berlin: About Blank is an old GDR Kindergarden, Berghain is an old GDR heating plant. Of course the conditions have changed in the meantime, there is no night anymore where you can hide, there are no dark corners anymore, and even the ruins of the post-industrial cities are commercialised. Rave is integrated, and its protagonists don‘t resist.
As Katja Diefenbach was saying in her text „The Technosubject in the Leisure-Jail“ (Das Technosubjekt im Freizeitknast, 1996. Our translations), both the „context“ and the „content“ of techno have been marginalised in this historical integration: „progressive sound-aesthetics, progressive psycho-accustic euphoria, principle of the club, switching of the postition of producers and consumers, linking of human and machine, decentering of the subject, etc.“ We are left with the „sign of techno“: „cyberspace-aesthetics, clubwear, electronic sound-and-light-spaces, intoxication and ecstasy under the lead of instant-pop and leisure industry.“
So what is a way out of here? Starting again is never an option, but as we can say with Diedrich Diederichsen: there is the possibility of a „a renewed negation of this life-form and the not yet found new public, negotiating a sociality from contemporary asociality“ (in the Mosse lecture with Rainald Goetz, our translation).
There can‘t be a purely theoretical relation to the problem of the rave situation. A non-philosophy of raves as philosophy shows that several movements are linked: As the rave gets stronger, the situation gets darker, the infrastructure more firm and the surfaces more soft, towards a sensitive competence of superficiality. Until a stable concept of boredom disawows all the promises of the spectacle: In the renewal of doubt we give space to euphoria. In a society of adventure, the only adventure left is boredom.
So people unplug themselves, leave the Computerstaat and join the colorful fireworks and dark drums of the rave. There is a notable difference between raves where people touch your face and try to force your mouth in the shape of a smile because they just need THAT SMILEY everywhere, that terror sign, one of the „signs of techno“ that Katja Diefenbach mentioned. And other raves where they celebrate the joy in the trenches of the landscape of your face. Everyone: Take off your faces, go out, take it all in! And once you loose the signification of the face, your whole body becomes a face.
Any cultural understanding of raves is left behind, this attitude of knowledgeable connoisseurs, who also have the vinyl record that is currently playing, or of hedonists who criticise you for having such a serious look on your face. From the cultural attitude we move over to the vegetal states, becoming forest, with the superficiality of tree bark, diaphane treetops, interlocking of roots. We grow on the dancefloor. Letting go, the rest of consciousness is creating interfaces in order to organise the vital force left in the rave exhaustion, a new level of interaction beyond the visual, based on the collective surface of our rave ecosystem.
A rave is an interface, a way to relate to your surrounding and to other beings. Dark surfaces are transfomed by the users of this interface. And there, on the skin, on the microscopic level of the rave, we find what seemed lost: the use value of art.
(performed Oct 12th 2017 at Philosophy Unbound in the Berliner Ringtheater)