Today Brian Peter George St John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno turns 69 years old. Twenty-five years ago a filmmaker named Henning Lohner put together an hour-long documentary on the former Roxy Music contributor and producer extraordinaire. Its German title is Solo für Eno.
Lohner was raised in Palo Alto, California, because both of his parents were German-born literature professors at Stanford. In his adulthood, Lohner reconnected with his parents’ homeland, where he served as an assistant to Karlheinz Stockhausen and also collaborated with Frank Zappa and John Cage and Steve Reich, among many others. In recent years he has contributed to soundtracks such as The Thin Red Line and Gladiator.
If you do not understand German, have no fear: There is a tiny amount of German voiceover at the start, but the program is first and foremost a document of Eno in his studio. The audio track is almost entirely in English. (There are German subtitles.) Most online sources give 1994 as the date of Solo für Eno but I think it was actually shot two years earlier.
There’s a funny bit at the start where Lohner has tasked Eno with intoning a few of the weightier pronunciamentos from Eno’s past, such as “Exposure is the currency of popular art. Obscurity is the currency of high art.” He doesn’t remember saying most of them. (Brian: You said that at the talk you gave at MoMA in October 1990; it was probably the same day you found a way to pee in Marcel Duchamp’s famous urinal.)
Frustrated with his inability to impose his essence on the TV camera, he jokes that they should get Laurie Anderson to do it. Then he comes up with a kind of game, he can say them if he is fed an “attitude” in which to say them, such as gleeful, sexy, morose, arrogant…... It’s a bit like watching Eno deploy one of his famous Oblique Strategies, the artistic spurs to creativity he developed with Peter Schmidt in the 1970s.
Eno also has some penetrating remarks on the importance of haircuts.
Happy birthday, Brian Eno!
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘Another Green World’: The Brian Eno documentary
Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt’s ‘Oblique Strategies,’ the original handwritten cards
How Brian Eno managed to piss in Marcel Duchamp’s famous urinal, 1990