BRIAN ENO - The maker of pop culture

18. June 2018

Brian Eno Roxy Music

BRIAN ENO - Der Macher der Popkultur

Founding member of Roxy Music, producer of Bowie, U2 and Talking Heads, inventor of Ambient, creator of elaborate multimedia installations and restless spirit in sound innovation: Brian Eno is the creator of pop culture. The man who renews them and drives them forward. The shyness of publicity is, hardly gives interviews and has just celebrated his seventieth birthday - or not, as he reveals when meeting with eclipsed.

The author of this article has already experienced some bizarre interview situations. With artists who didn't want, couldn't, or weren't allowed to. Who were repulsive, absent or just crazy. With beatings, lawyers and demolition threatened. Who went crazy for a short time or did not want to give permission to publish what had been said. The experience with Brian Eno in Berlin's Martin-Gropius-Bau, however, has a completely different dimension. First, eclipsed by manager Ray Hearn is guided through the installation "Empty Formalism", which after its premiere on the Spree will go around the world as a travelling exhibition. A meditative sequence of constantly varying colours and shapes, combined with spherical sound loops. A constellation in which one can literally lose oneself. Which is not the case with Hearn, though. He uses the moment to give clear instructions and rules of conduct: Eno doesn't talk about his producer jobs, not about Roxy Music and certainly not about David Bowie. If he had any questions, he'd break off the conversation. "Then what's the point?" is our perplexed objection. "What he's doing now and what he's up to."

A piece of advice to prove valuable. Because Eno is not a simple person and certainly not a simple conversation partner. And it is no longer the bird of paradise equipped with feather boas. The small, bald elderly gentleman with designer glasses, elegant black double-breasted, sliding cap and white three-day beard reminds of a university professor. And that's exactly how he speaks: slowly, deliberately, with well-measured anecdotes. Right at the beginning of the audience he bursts the proverbial bomb: "I understand that people associate me with what made me known. Nevertheless I react irritated if they only talk about my work with some rock stars. Especially in England everyone seems to think that I am a musician who produces art in my spare time as a pure hobby. That's not true, and that's why I focus on installations. I made my first one in 1968, fifty years ago. So I'm celebrating an anniversary."

This drips with mockery and makes one thing above all clear: Eno feels misunderstood, reduced to something that (from his point of view) constitutes only a tiny part of his work, but superimposes everything else. That's why he's currently holding back noticeably on producer activities and concentrating instead on his multimedia art. He emphasizes that they don't make a lot of money, but first of all he has enough of them anyway, and secondly the most important thing for him is to live out his creative visions. But with them he also pursues a social mission. After all, they are urban cocoons, oases of calm in a fast-moving, stressful world: "We need an antipole to the general hectic pace. So much happens that we have to sit down, take a deep breath and let everything sink. That's what people find in my installations. And it's interesting to watch them do that. I'm always fascinated by how many spend their time with something where hardly anything happens compared to common entertainment. There is no action, no story, no connecting elements, that becomes clear after only two or three minutes. Nevertheless, the visitors seem to be happy with it."

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