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Can Techno be high art?


You might have already heard about it, and if not here it goes: techno is now considered the same under the eyes of the law as classical music. Essentially, Techno is as culturally important as high art. At least that is the court ruling of a German court. 

It all started when Berghain was granted the same tax status as concert venues, following a protracted court struggle. City officials attempted to impose a 19 percent tax on the club's revenues, alleging that the majority of the crowd goes there to get high on alcohol and drugs. As a result, Berghain was designated as an "entertainment venue."

Berghain's legal team stated in its defense that performance of music by 19th-century composer Gustav Mahler might provide a comparable intoxicated effect. And they won! Now their weekend hedonistic parties will be classified as cultural experiences and not entertainment. Now the club is taxed at 7 percent as other classical venues. That is good news for the beloved Techno temple. It has also spiked a heated round of conversations around devoted techno peers. 

It begs the question; can Techno be considered a form of high art?

What is high art anyway? 

No, it's not art on drugs. High culture includes both aesthetic cultural artifacts that a civilization sees as exemplary art and intellectual works of philosophy, history, and literature that society regards as emblematic of its culture. In simpler words: everything society is proud of. Rather posh, definitely not synonymous to raggedy sweaty nights on hard beating Techno. Or maybe yes? Can Techno be seen as an “exemplary art”?

Who has done it already?

Take for example Dániel Marcel Hevesi, who symbolizes a new wave of underground techno culture in the realm of modern fine art. He bridges the worlds of underground techno with abstract, minimal art in a captivating and distinctive way. Among his most well-known works are those in his "Locked Groove" series, in which he paints several techno sub-genre-inspired artworks. In an older interview, Daniel has said that “The connection between abstract art and underground techno music was always there. They both live the life of an outlaw. Very misunderstood and not valued enough in a wider audience. They both belong to the underground. But this is all fine because they are not for everyone.” 

However, Daniel’s art is not strictly Techno music. A Berlin-based festival has been attempting to demonstrate the higher edge of Techno for the past four years. Berlin Atonal takes place in an abandoned power station that previously powered the city's East German half and features techno DJs with electronic musicians whose inclinations span from modestly experimental to overtly avant-garde. Each day begins with a "serious" block of ambient noises and rumbling bass, then builds to something resembling the hedonistic experience that people anticipate from Berlin techno culture – albeit slightly more restrained, considering the festival's self-assuredly smart clientele.  

Probably not to classical concertgoers, but Atonal foreshadows a future in which Techno is universally recognized as being as culturally significant as a symphony orchestra. The same way Bargain got their parties equalised to concerts. You might argue that framing techno in this way makes it seem as stuffy as classical music, but Atonal's juxtaposition of intellectual frequencies and plain old-fashioned joy pulls it all off.

It could be that we are entering a new era when going to a party carries the same cultural imprint as going to the theater. And why not? There is an abundance of talent and hard work put into it, just with a better sense of style than the 13th century concerts!

We can not definitely argue in favour of Techno seen as higher art, but we are eyeing these initiatives to elevate it positively. For us, it is our favourite form of art anyway! 


Author: Techno 24/7

Pic: prlog.org

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