Monoton

active since 1979

Biography

Konrad Becker
born 1959 in Vienna; lives in Vienna

Konrad Becker is a media researcher, activist, writer, actor, musician, composer and producer and event organizer in the field of art and electronic media.

His career began in several fields simultaneously in the late 1970s as he was involved as actor, musician and filmmaker while working on cross-genre installation environments as an artist. These early multimedia installations, which Becker further expanded in the 1980s, included painting and graphics as well as slide projections, videos and live performances.

Since the early 1990s, Becker has been pioneering works in the internet and digital media while also working most of the time as a musician.

With the founding of t0-Institute for New Cultural Technologies (1993) and Public Netbase (1994), Becker initiated forums for dealing with network and cyber culture and later continued by establishing the World-Information.org platform.

Visual Arts

Visual Arts

From the very beginning, Konrad Becker’s artistic activities took place in overlapping zones of painting, graphics, music, performance, film and their bundling into condensed installation settings. Under the project names »Monoton, Gesellschaft für Wissenschaft und Volkstanz bzw. Wissenschaftliche Sensation,« Becker created cross-genre situational events in specially designed rooms such as galleries, factory halls or music clubs. Part of these early multimedia gigs were light, slide and video projections on walls which were often painted like pictograms. Becker’s media efforts continued expanding with neon, TV monitors and Super-8 film loops in »walk-in paintings« and installations in public spaces as well as entire multimedia operas (Parzival, 1984). Starting in the mid-1980s, Becker created increasingly close-meshed synesthetic productions, operating with early computer software, in which digital visuals and electronically generated sound intertwined congenially.

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Author: Christian Höller

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Music

Music

In 1979, Konrad Becker founded the group Monoton which also included the artist Eugenia Rochas and the musician Albert Griemann in the beginning. The first untitled LP (Monotonprodukt 02) was released under the brand Monotonprodukt in 1980. With its monochrome light blue cover and red liner showing only staff lines as a (minimalist) pattern, the record represented a kind of founding statement for the early electronic scene in Austria. Two years later — Becker had meanwhile also become active with the music project »Wissenschaftliche Sensation« — the double LP Monotonprodukt 07 appeared completely in black (with white staff lines). The majority of the tracks are minimal sound surfaces which suggest trance states, produced on mini-synthesizers, sequencers and other electronic effect devices which had just become affordable at the time. Pieces filling half of one side of a record, such as »Tanzen und Singen« or »Wasser,« are performed in beguiling endless repetitions, verbally underpinned by mantra-like repeated movements (»A Fish Swims in the Water«). »We experience the physical existence of life as vibration or rhythm or light,« Becker wrote in the accompanying text and thus settled Monoton in the transitional area of »mathematics, vibration research and psychosomatics.« This kind of psycho- and sound research was consistently continued in projects such as the »eight-hour public removal of the sound barrier« (Konstante Vibration, June 1981 in the Virgil Chapel under St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna) or at a »frequency conference« (Galerie Graffity Vienna, April 1982).

In subsequent projects such as »Mantron,« »Synsation« or »Public Tranceport«, Becker further explored the frontiers of early techno music, computer-generated psycho-acoustics and the electronic dance culture that began its triumphant advance in the 1990s.

In the Exhibition

In the Exhibition

Monoton

Mantron – The Tokyo Tape, 1989–1991, with Konrad Becker, additional percussion and vocals: Z'EV (Stefan Weisser), 53:50 min


In 1991, Konrad Becker appeared with the US American artist and percussion musician Z’EV (given name: Stefan Weisser, 1951–2017) as part of a multimedia performance in Japan. The Tokyo Tape, subsequently emerged in combination with the recordings of the two musicians. The result is an even stream of images that leads deep into the, at the time new, emerging cybernetic spaces with all their image, pictogram, graphic and geometric curvatures. To a total of ten techno and electro tracks with strongly percussive accents (and Asian themes that repeatedly push into the foreground), an untiringly throbbing, mutating plural universe is stretched out on the basis of digital icons, nesting itself in ever new spatial constructs. Becker’s continuous textual harangue glides on the current, while Z’EV admixes soft-metallic rhythmic elements. The result is »visual music« in the best sense, planted with great technical verve into the present without falling victim to making a fetish of what is technically possible. In the end, galaxies are traveled, spaces and worlds torn open — even if they were merely the temporary autonomous spheres of imagination of techno-heads and psychonauts, as was fitting with the time.

Author:

Christian Höller