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I arrived in Vienna with the representative of Sheffield's Inner Space Agency (ISA) after an enjoyable, but delayed flight. As the underground system had shut down for the day we made our way to Public Netbase by foot. We discussed 80s industrial music, mathematic modelling and whether we were lost. We eventually arrived at Public Netbase feeling pretty exhausted but exhilarated and were welcomed by several autonomous astronauts from London, France and Vienna. We talked for a while and then got our heads down in preparation for the morning..
I slept well and dreamt of deserts, giant butterflies and strange machines.
Saturday morning was spent planning our activities, welcoming others and exploring the environment. Vienna was a welcome change from London. Some of us had a wander round to get some supplies and take it all in. The verdict was "pretty, if over regimented".
We returned to Public Netbase for lunch. The complex is situated in the centre of Vienna, with the rest of the Museums, which meant we were sleeping within a stone's throw of both the supposed Spear of Destiny and several Bosch paintings. Netbase struck me as a pretty cool place to be - nice kitchen, loads of ISDN terminals, nice people.
After eating, we headed over to the hall where the conference was being held. It was impressively big. A pyramidal spaceship had been constructed in the centre of the hall and local kids from the Kinder Museum had decorated it in the weeks leading up to the conference. The decor inside the ship was suitably psychedelic (in stark contrast to the interior of NASA spaceships which are dull as fuck). The ship included a number of monitors and other artefacts, and a platform for various uses (this was later used for skinning up by some delegates during the rave in space training). A representative from Inner City AAA had been working with some of the kids to develop a website outlining their philosophies for living in space. I found the visual elements to be very interesting, but was unable to decipher much of the text because it was (naturally) in German. However Raido AAA delegates were pleased to find a number of parallels with the kids' ideas to our own. They had collectively decided to name the ship "Achtung! Wir Kommen!" (AWK) which translates as "Watch out! Here we come!". An admirable sentiment! Some of the afternoon was spent talking to the kids about subjects as diverse as life in space, skateboarding, music and going to school in Austria and England. They were well into it.
Other than the spaceship the hall also contained:
Public Netbase had excelled themselves with the conference brochure, which should be included with this report. When exploring the town we saw that many of them had been fly-posted around the place. A special conference edition of Escape from Gravity had also been produced, and a number of special conference t-shirts had been printed by Inner City AAA with a "Space Travel By Any Means Necessary" slogan on the front and the conference logo on the back. There were two cool kids from the Kinder Museum wearing these t-shirts doing door duties. They fluctuated between welcoming the parents of the kids involved in making the ship, and skateboarding around like demons.
Saturday afternoon was the official launch of the AWK ship and some TV crew and other media people showed up to check it out. DJ Pita had been brought in to provide sounds for the occasion, which was great for our own John Eden because he went to school with him. In fact the tapes Pita did for John about 12 years ago probably play a large part in the poor bloke's twisted outlook now. The kids danced and ran about like kids damn well should, but some of the rather more mature people present seemed a little unnerved by the wall of sound, and Pita's set was cruelly curtailed.
There was much speculation amongst the delegates on the long term effects of AAA ideas on such a bright, creative selection of young astronauts - we await the next few years with interest!
The evening saw a number of speakers take the stage. The proceedings were introduced and compered by Konrad Becker of Public Netbase. The running order was as follows.
An Inner City AAA delegate gave a talk introducing the ideas and history of the AAA. It was well received.
Fiorella Terenzi, who was billed as "a cross between Carl Sagan and Madonna". I found her presentation style interesting, but the content was of little use to our group. Fiorella is interested in the vibrations of the universe. She talked us through some basic astronomy and physics with some CD-Roms she has produced as a visual aid. The actual sounds made by the vibrations she has studied were a great selection of gargantuan rumbling and harsh frequencies. I was pleased to hear that Fiorella had been inspired to produce her own music by the sounds. Unfortunately the results were (in my opinion...) cobblers tinkly ambient dolphin crystal-healing unicorn music. A shame. The rest of her talk took a similar turn - a rather Californian new-agey feel. Nevertheless, she has presence and it was in good contrast to the rest of the evening!
Professor Werner W Weiss from the University of Vienna spoke about the history of science and space travel. I'm not sure what he made of the rest of it, but it was quite funny watching him try to frame the proceedings in some kind of academic context, even one presented to lay-people. He droned on a bit, but I liked him.
The Inner Space Agency delegate was unsure whether he would present a talk at all, but came up with the goods after being bribed with beer tokens. It was an excellent discourse that took in Marxist theory, slag heaps, (un)employment and space. Heartfelt and to the point. An introduction to the talk appears in issue 3 of Autotoxicity magazine.
Die Institut fur Langstreckenfluge presented a video report concerning the isolation of outer space travel which was entertaining and surreal.
A Raido AAA delegate gave a talk on the AAA and the media which was accompanied by drunken exclamations off stage from other people involved with the group. Cheeky buggers.
An East London AAA delegate gave a talk on how the AAA is heralding a new cultural renaissance.
Some activists from a local radio station presented a video of their training activities for getting into space do broadcast their shows from a satellite. This was an excellent surprise - they just showed up and the video was a great mixture of low budget humour and creativity. A representative of the group gave a short talk explaining what they were trying to do. One of the delegates approached them for a copy of the video, but this hasn't arrived at the time of writing. They interviewed me about the conference for their station.
The rave-in-space training event followed the talks and was just the right combination of hedonism and confusion. A special mention should be made here for DJ's Scud and Christoph who were hardcore enough to see the thing through until sunrise. I think I crashed out at about 2, but this can only be an estimate because of the inevitable temporal-distortions that accompany such activities. For this reason I am unable to recall the subject matter of my dreams that night.
Sunday morning was spent recovering from the rigours of our hectic trainingschedule. Odds things were afoot. ISA delegate noticed an absolutelyincredible number grand pianos being loaded onto trucks in courtyardwhere we staying. Closer examination revealed that they werent evenreal anywaymore like props for some weird show involving massespianos.
We had planned to go to the moon on Sunday afternoon but this was cancelled after our hosts revealed that this sort of activity would be halted by instant police intervention. Despite this, we were able to play a fast and furious game of 3-sided football in the courtyard of the museums. The delegates that were unfamiliar with the game got into it swiftly, and all attempts at bi-polar competition were thwarted. The rest of the afternoon was spent having a picnic and talking to journalists. The Raido AAA posse decided that the proposed astral projection workshop would be hazardous given the fatigue of many of the trainees. Instead, the weekend was rounded off by chilling out at a local restaurant, swearing at Alec Empire on TV, and playing with Netbase's rather wonderful techno-toys.
There was a child-like "fairy tale" variety to my dreams that night. I recall that jumping friendly fruit was involved, as was the kid's TV presenter Johnny Ball.
I flew back to the UK at some indecent time in the morning the next day.
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