No politics in my techno

Emile Johnson

Emile Johnson’s Audio-interactive projection NO POLITICS IN MY TECHNO dissects the current scene of techno music and its apolitical stance. Favoring the party narrative, techno music nowadays follows a vastly different structure from its origins, being as a response to racist economic decay in Detroit, Michigan. From the 90s into the early noughties, the genre was slowly appropriated for parades planing to fund burgeoning economies, for example in Berlin. From this, the genre is now known mainly as "harsh, thudding music.” Emile wishes to recontextualize the genre to match its origins via Audio-interactive political visuals. The subject of the visuals will be on the social and economic impacts that have been revealed with the development of the Russian Ukrainian war. With a waning amount of human empathy and a surge in profit fuelled media, alongside inflation, Emile manipulates grotesque and popular imagery to express their anti-national, anti-capitalist opinions in the frame of the conflict. 

Emile Johnson

Communication Designer and Artist from the US, based in Berlin. Taking all things expressive and blending it into an extensive and incomprehensible mess is my jam!

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?

No clue tbh, hopefully somewhere I don't feel compromised with my artistic work. Ideally, I will never again have to associate my creativity with companies that have a less than reputable ... reputation. It would be nice to run something of my own that supports the essentials whilst allowing for healthier creative outputs.

What is a good design for you?

Something that makes you think, "how the fuck did they make that?" I detest grid systems, so anything that actively ignores or messes with this concept gets brownie points from me. Anything that comments on the injustices of Queer folk, POC folk, and all oppressed peoples through the critical vivisection of our current economic systems (of which in turn profit from said oppression), is also quite nice. One can't have good visuals without having a vital topic behind it, whether nostalgic, political, historical, spiritual, etc.

What was the most challenging experience during your studies?

Studying and working. Always being in a financial precarious situation, and having to balance both the constant stress from the admin portion of the University whilst earning money for the bills, rent, etc. definitely challenged me.

Who or what inspires you?

Anja Kaiser, H.R Giger, Jonathon Castro Alejos, maybe Raymond Pettibon, Contrapoints, recently Delphine Lejeune, there are many who's for sure, but something I would rather like to impart is the what! What inspires me are things that hold no regard for standard conventions of beauty, whether it be the textures of buildings, the messy welding of a tube, roots of a tree, random things. Aside from this are the political events that we continue to experience, and the worsening conditions of our lives on Earth as a result from this.

How do you approach a new project?

I think about the extent of provocativeness I want it to carry. If there is a lot on the news that makes me angry, I'll usually funnel in my emotions from this area into the ideation. It's good to not stay in ideation too long, get started with the making and figure it out from there.

What advice would you give to students who just started studying in your programme?

Don't. There are other places to pick from, and I don't wish to make any provacative statement with this, for the pure interest of helping those who are like me, I would recommend another University that can more appropriately provide for your needs as an artist and designer. Don't be afraid to branch out, and try new things as well.

Have you changed during your studies? How?

I think I've become less enamored with all design. I've become more critical and aware of what I do like, and what this entails on the theoretical realm. Getting into the theory has really shifted my perspective on antiquated practices like "modern design." I've discovered that there is more I like to do than what conventional design might encompass. Rather I've come to appreciate all of my artistic skills, and give them focus from my theoretical reading, to my music practices, experimentation with all facets of myself.

Why did you choose to study in your programme?

Communication design for me back then meant graphic design, and I was simply interested in this line of work. Following my studies, I came to understand communication design as an open approach to how we create and, in effect, design the communication of ourselves to others.

What are you not going to miss in your studies?

Everything in the studies were phenomenal, I have no complaints against professors or lessons. I will not, however, miss how unorganized the University was. In all honesty, I hope that future students won't have to undergo much of the stress that came with all the mishandling of many a situation that I had to experience. The University needs to hire more people and actively promote an environment that actually cares for the professors, losing many of your favorite professors due to the University's unwillingness to cooperate is not a telltale sign of good organization.

How are you going to celebrate your graduation?

Asking a friend for a new tattoo? Might eat some nice food? Honestly no clue. A nice exhale perhaps!

Say hi!

Leon Mika Behrens