BEATO ART & SOCIAL CLUB
A Communication Primer
On the postmodern Zeitgeist, hotchpotch identities, noosphere, club scene, flickering in the geopolitical loophole, gentrification, club culture and nonsense in preference to platitudes.
"I know I am talking nonsense. But I'd rather go rambling on, and scantily expressing something I find it difficult to express, than to keep on transmitting faultless platitudes." – Thomas Mann
Before we lean back to contemplate our next move, let us sort it out quickly and see how our communication tunes with the concept of ad hoc clubs, the temporary site-specific projects we have been popping up around the world. We compiled a list of riddles and threw it – the whole sixpack – at Schiz Flux. Who is Schiz Flux? A reasonable question! This entity is a ghostly presence in our midst. While some report his sightings (nearly as frequent as those of UFO), others, the vast majority of our club members, suspect it's a script. Always a possibility in the age of globally distributed processing. So here we go: A Communication Primer. After all, communication is that which interlinks any organism and keeps the society together. Or the Turing Test.

Amor De Cosmos and Moon Unit are real personal names. In their light, Schiz Flux sounds like a proper one, too.

Not even a real pseudonym. It's a matrix registration requirement, fulfilled. Years ago as a graduate political philosophy student at NYU, I was signing with a social media network while taking a break from my course reading. I just pulled it from the book in front of me – Mille Plateaux by Deleuze et al. I thought the name would be spot on to describe my presence online – all processes in the decentralized communication networks – and to reflect the postmodern Zeitgeist.

The author – not to forget Foucault – was one the major proponents of the view that there is nothing stable about human subjectivity, nothing autonomous about our individuality, and nothing final about knowledge we construe as truth. Who we are, what we think and do is an effect of power – hard or soft, pain or pleasure – imprinted on us from even before our birth and being impressed each moment ever since; the power which is itself disembodied, without a single or fixed source, inconsistent and perpetually shifting. Each of us is a multiplicity doing this and that, believing or desiring things which are often mutually exclusive, navigating in between conflicting rules, living different public and private lives... This is to say, one's real name is as uninformative as no name.


How much of this "multiplicity" is embedded in your work including the current one?

A lot. We are a small collective. This spells multitasking for all of us involved. Communication is a complex field itself. It is not just about having something to say, but also to be able to say it in many different ways, addressed to specific audiences, and just as about how not to say so you don't sound as dull as a corporate press-release. It requires language, but so much more – philology, the cultural context of language: the message is a thought, not the words. As a thought, it never develops in isolation and at once if it aims at universality addressed to further than itself, to people from different cultures, with different backgrounds within each, to different generations.

To communicate is to pour your thinking out, but so much more, as a prerequisite, to absorb plunging deep into the noosphere, the sphere of semiosis, into the universe of human mind that stretches all the way back to the Ancients. They are responsible for the notions deemed most important today, from which all others stem – from self and atom to humanity and cosmos… Reality is a communicative construct – social reality, in any case. Without this semiotic immersion, our existence is rubbish coded in the fuck-me patter of soap ads and bait-and-switch blurbs of political campaigns.

On top of that, communication today involves technology – nothing stable about it either. Knowing your tools which are in flux constantly upgrading is a huge part of it. Photo, video, sound, graphics, text. Some go as far as to argue that the message is nothing more than its medium. What you are trying to convey – the meaning – is predicated on how capable you are handling your technology with all its possibilities and limitations. The same in music as we know it today – anything but three chords. It is noize if you fail to press the right buttons which are near infinite and multiplying. Troubadours are now sound engineers.


Your projects are short-lived (as the recent in Lisbon lasting barely a week), programs are concise, the setups are... unboastful, sometimes almost self-effacing (as in Berlin where it is just an old military tent with the winds tearing apart what remains of it). Yet, these campaigns are quite "stable", to borrow your term, in the sense that they leave distinct trails of documentation, which are gripping beyond their immediate practicality. Is communication part of the concept and what's the point?

Yes. It's called for by the very nature of our projects and in part motivated by some general considerations. The main point is that our concept is detached from any particular location – connected to places if only circumstantially. It's literally what it is – a pure concept with an implementation plan and modus operandi adjustable to various situations. We apply it where we feel it may stick for a while making waves and take it elsewhere (or reformulate) as soon as its novelty begins wearing out. Stagnation impacts all projects locked into a static milieu for some time. Till Harter can speak volumes on this topic explaining how "fixed positional" concepts get habituated and degrade in the course of just a few years, if not being constantly reinvented somehow. We avoid stagnation by being momentary and achieve permanence through mobility popping up around the world – one case is unlike the next one and they are all on the record.
We are temporary phenomena popping up here and there: the in-depth communication with all our thinking out is a way for us to properly introduce ourselves, to be understood, to form and maintain meaningful relationships and be more present in each case and generally.
— Till Harter
We are amorphous – a nameless hub in the network comprised of artists, musicians, djs, chefs, mixologists, aficionados, socialites and explorers from all over. Documenting and reporting on what we do, going an extra mile with our communication, properly targeting it, developing ad hoc social networks, is, in purpose and effect, akin to designing interiors in real clubs, hiring highly specialized personnel, creating signature menus, or investing into a superb sound system – what gives each such anchored operation a differential advantage over another establishment. For us perpetually on the move, popping up here and there on short notice and with limited funds, it's about the program, the way it is communicated and to whom.


To whom? Do you mean online marketing?

No. We refuse these methods in principle. They are bad manners little short of abuse – to address people as objects and collectively as a mass. Besides, online marketing does not really work showing no measurable effects with all that click fraud by automated bots. Also to note: the millennials are smart and don't fall for commercial solicitation, don't even look at ads.

This is not to say, however, that we produce our visuals without trying to make them interesting. But there is a point beyond which a picture begins to resemble a piece of stock photography and starts deceiving people. We keep it vérité. No love bombing in our texts, either. No logo fetishism. We distribute our materials organically; sometimes we boost them, but within our network. New people will find us and stick with us if they care what we are doing. It's cool to be somewhat inaccessible, anyway.

Communication starts when, on request by prospective partners or otherwise, Till Harter arrives to check a new location – already carrying a disco ball. What is there for him to probe in the void? Any room-shaped emptiness will do just fine. Basically, Till comes looking where to hang his legendary disco ball. He gives it a spin and dials to convince us he has found "the best of all possible worlds". I take his word for it. So do others. When it ever comes to printing business cards, Till should have Prof. Pangloss as his title – for the amount of optimism he emits into the atmosphere.

While we are packing, he has a few days to explore the local scene scouting for talent to engage in the activities and schmoozing everyone he bumps into about the mission. "Not everyone, only nice people!" – Till would correct me on this. We draft the program and take it to the social media, in all details, inviting friends and friends of friends only. The news spread on in geometric progression. The result is a tight quasi-familial composition of persons sharing in their interests, tastes, attitudes, erudition... This is all that matters.
Till Harter - Beato Art & Social Club - Schizflux
It's just some people that we have in mind – who are interested in what we are doing and follow us from place to place, or remotely, for various reasons.
— Schiz Flux
It's a circle, never a crowd. The main function of communication is to shape a social body – for the sake of its sociality. The way we present our projects – through the grammar and style of narratives, their topics and visualization techniques, subtle allusions and cultural codes therein – is a social filter of a sort. Makes the gatekeeper's job easier.

We figured years ago: for a popup to be a hit, the venue doesn't need to be top-notch equipped, luxuriously furnished, thoroughly serviced or advantageously positioned on the map. It's almost the opposite what makes it intriguing and proves well worth a visit in the end. For the inquisitive and outgoing locals who have been/seen it all in their habitat, it suffices we are new on the block, unanticipated, atypical, and, perhaps, precisely ephemeral and transient, something to snatch before it evaporates.

Popping up, we aim our "bubbles" at persons who value raw experiences over their habits and expectations, people who do not need much of external stimuli to imagine things and enjoy them – that is, themselves.

It can be bare but never pointless – not for the type of guests we want to see, anyway. So we go to greater lengths and depths describing our cultural agenda. Our projects physically fleeting, the communication is the only element that stays, the only material reference for our other projects in line.


And what are those "general considerations" that you mentioned, which motivate your communication?

These concern club culture as such – with the emphasis on "culture". I remember paging through Lost and Sound, a book by Tobias Rapp who spent his late adolescence and early adulthood in Berlin immersed in its ecstatic revival in the 90/00's and taking notes. His main focus is music and club scene and how it has come about to define the city giving it a unique identity. The author points out that the formation of the scene was due to a number of factors, all intertwined – the post-wall political entropy, general bureaucratic chaos, unclaimed sites, laissez-faire municipal policies, relaxed law enforcement practices, affordable housing, generous welfare system, mood-modification substances, cheap airfare... His argument makes perfect sense.

The problem here is that these factors are all external. Take them away, one by one – what is actually happening in the course of gentrification – and you see the scene crumbling pulling down the identity structure attached to it. It has been fading away for a decade or so affected by the "normalization" processes (no more warehouses to occupy, rents go up and so on), but also – and this is especially poignant – on account of its failure to maintain itself and develop intrinsically, as a socio-cultural phenomenon in its own right and significance.
Interesting thing about techno in the 90's in Berlin was that it went from underground to being ultra mainstream in a very short time period. That was amazing to witness.
— Tobias Rapp
It is as if the club scene in Berlin has been taking itself for granted from start – with some exceptions upon which the entire edifice now rests deriving its legitimacy. One may think that originally the scene was well content with its status of an interim bureaucratic epiphenomenon flickering in the geopolitical loophole, a mere side-effect of the systemic collapse (itself unintended), and currently that of a tool in the hands of investors, selling itself short on the real-estate market as "playground" and "attraction", being taken for a ride as a marketing scheme to boost the value of a private property and then the next one down the road, to be soon evicted with no qualms, when time comes.

I mean, this is normal as you see this happening everywhere. The East Village (70/80's), then Williamsburg (90/00's) in NYC: artists move in, big money follows, artists move elsewhere (often as planned a step-ahead by hawk-eyed realty brokers). CBGB is now Starbucks? Fine! Some call such turn a decline; for others, the pedestrians, it spells development.

The issue is something else: Why club and music scene is so easy to dispense with? I bet its periodic flyers, cursory lineups and bulk guest lists are not enough to elevate the scene to the status of culture – to the symbolic heights whereat entities obtain solidity, immunity to and protection against the assertive banality of commercial interests (they are scarcely ever original) with their spreadsheets and powerpoints. Something else is required and tragically missing.
Among other things, culture means discourse. It's this part we feel is lacking on the club scene holding it back. We intend to fulfil it through our communication.
— Schiz Flux
This brings us back to the "general considerations" question. So, yes, our projects aren't especially entertaining, not feeding into fantasies and glamorized myths. No vistas, no rituals in holy smoke; our artists don't fly magic carpets; our programs promise no spiritual transmutation: our guests come "as they are", stay real, and leave being themselves... We are not so much to entertain. Our core ambitions are sociocultural.

In addition to original production and venues that don't resemble Disneyland in their operations and patronship, culture means discourse. It's this part we feel is lacking on the club scene and intend to fulfil through communication. It does leave long trails beyond its immediate purpose (an invite for a night out) and we only wish they were longer and more substantial. It implies a degree of phenomenological reflexivity, aesthetic judgement, critical attitude and articulation that oversteps cliché; it anticipates responses that are more complex than "I like".

We like to think of our events as convivia (from Latin: to be, to be alive, to affect, to make difference + together) and we arrange our venues as "real situations" – no hocus-pocus. BEATO Art & Social Club is what it is: a former milk factory infused with art and social action. Our communication is not public relations or community management; it is an interpretative curatorial work based on research and informed by hermeneutics. Musicology and culturology being its proper analytical fields, we also like to expand their horizons to view the subject – the music and club scene – in the optics of philosophy, anthropology, social sciences, politics… Hence, the interviews, reviews, articles and commentary on topics across the board… whatever it takes to make the scene culturally relevant, self-sustaining and evolving as institution.

Or at least this is the idea.


"Phenomenological reflexivity, aesthetic judgement, critical attitude and articulation that oversteps cliché..." It's a tall order! Don't you think it's an overkill, given the attention span of an average audience, which is as short as that of fish? And, in all honestly, some of it is not at all transparent.

Not for the average. Caught in gibberish and bombarded by advertising, the average would not even notice us. The average would not enjoy our events, either, finding them, as I said, not so entertaining. It's just some people that we have in mind – who are interested in what we are doing and follow us from place to place, or remotely, for various reasons. We are temporary phenomena here and there: the in-depth communication with all our thinking out is a way for us to properly introduce ourselves, to be understood, to form and maintain meaningful relationships and be more present in each case and generally.

There is another dimension to it. To quote Thomas Mann: "I know I am talking nonsense. But I'd rather go rambling on, and scantily expressing something I find it difficult to express, than to keep on transmitting faultless platitudes."
Schizflux - Till Harter - Ross Harding - Kaspar - Caro