Speaking in Code: A documentary on the passion-fueled lives of contemporary techno creators

Watching this documentary on the contemporary techno movement gave me goosebumps. And I recognized every single track in this trailer (yay for those technerd points).

Speaking in Code is an intimate account of people who are completely lost in music. A heartbreaking and lighthearted documentary, it’s a vérité glimpse into the world of techno.Captivating and entertaining, the film takes you around the world, following the people who make electronic music … their lives.

Starring: Modeselektor, Wighnomy Brothers, Monolake, Philip Sherburne, David Day & Amy Grill

Also featuring: Ellen Allien, Tobias Thomas, Marc LeClair AKA Akufen, Wolfgang Voigt, Michael Mayer, Reinhard Voigt, Sascha Ring AKA Apparat, Sascha Funke, Mario Willms AKA Douglas Greed, Miss Kittin, Dan Paluska AKA Six Million Dollar Dan, Mike Uzzi AKA Smartypants

Featuring music by: Modeselektor, Wighnomy Brothers, Robag Wruhme, Ellen Allien & Apparat, The Field, Monolake, Michael Mayer, Gas, Jonas Bering, SCSI-9, Gui Boratto, Superpitcher, Steadycam, Dettinger, The Rice Twins, Reinhard Voigt, Oxia

Although the artists featured are mostly based in Germany, the internet has spread this particular sound throughout the world through niche-oriented internet media. Germans aren’t the only ones generating the energy of the new movement, but their scene is very visible. We do need educational vehicles like one this to explain to the world why we’re so passionate about something so abstract, yet moving and emotional. Can’t wait to see the final product.

ALSO: Here my more-academic rant on Gaper’s Block: “Speaking in Code: A Documentary on the Passion-fueled Lives of Contemporary Techno Creators”

Techno enthusiasts, I would propose, operate on a generally more abstract level than just “having a beat you can dance to” along with a sung allegory of lost love or pursued-yet-unrequited love. Much along the lines of Western Classical enthusiasts, they giddily freak out about an unexpected bass-modulated, gated atonality, and derive blissful pleasure from well-placed syncopation and juxtaposing the minimal alongside the maximal.

BBS: The Documentary

BBSs–“Bulletin Board Systems” were the precursors to today’s internet. Totally low-tech and restricted by hardware and bandwidth limitations, they were text based and you accessed them over a phone line, but by signing into one or hosting your own you became part of an elite nerdy culture of people communicating with each other and sharing software and information.

ASCII art was born to create graphical representations within hardware and display limitations, and considering how our graphics have improved and how easy it is to design things with our modern tools its impressive to see what has been created with such a limited palette.

I ran a one-node BBS, but more often I was logging into other systems within my area code that wouldn’t rack up long distance charges on my parent’s phone line. I had a little chart next to my computer to show when the off-peak times were so I could schedule my downloads of Wolfenstein, Doom and related maps, tracker software and .mods, and .tar’d text files of information that might be considered quasi-legal to be in possession of.

Director Jason Scott pent quite a few years on his own and created a 2-DVD 3-DVD talking-heads box set of a documentary on BBSs, including the history, culture, and available technology at the time. It also features music by 8-bit artist Paul Slocum aka Treewave who makes music with a Commodore 64 and a dot-matrix printer. MP3s are here.

If you’re like me and once ran a BBS, you need to show off your nerd cred by snagging an ExSysOpt-shirt. And yes, although I’m certain that the talking heads featured in BBS: The Documentary are likely 99.9% 90% male, the t-shirts are available in ladies’ sizes, too.

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