“How can the essence of Berlin’s techno scene experience be documented when their space no longer exists?” This was the pivotal question that ignited photographer Mischa Fanghaenel's creation of the series 'NACHTS.' With over 175 personalities from Berlin's electronic music scene immortalized through his lens, this project transformed photography into a symphony of digital artwork using AI models to capture the spirit of contemporary techno culture. The NFT series combines photographic and video works, offering a unique perspective on the club scene and its personalities. 'NACHTS' represent a media extension in Fanghaenel's oeuvre, who, in addition to his role as a photographer, has spent over a decade working as a bouncer at Berghain.

Interview by Magdalena Roe

Photography by George Nebieridze

MAGDALENA: What is it that you want to express with your art and photography? In particular, what did you want to express and reflect on with your project NACHTS?

MICHAEL FANGHAENEL: My goal is to show how beautiful life can be, how beautiful we all are. Looking at my NACHTS portraits it is obvious how different we all are but still, we share the same love for music that brings us together and keeps us together. I wanted to shift the spotlight from our contrasts, onto the shared aspects between us and the things we have in common.

Photography by Kane Holz
Photography by Kane Holz

Amid the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Fanghaenel pondered how to capture the essence of the techno scene’s experience when its physical spaces were inaccessible. He developed a digital visual language that allowed him to collaborate with prominent figures in the music scene, transforming static photography into dynamic moving images. By releasing the portraits as immersive artworks, the artist offers his viewers interactive experiences that, inspired by an ecstatic way of life, form an artistic document of contemporary techno culture. The portraits synchronize with music, evolving into abstract patterns and forms, ultimately converging into captivating works of art.

MR: How do you feel about changes that might have happened during or after Covid? What might have changed till now?

MF: The lockdowns were a shock and we had a lot of questions. Being able to be together again made me realize the importance of this scene and our club culture in general. I think people have become more aware of what we have in this culture. We value it more.

Mischa Fanghaenel’s photographic work is inspired by Berlin’s techno culture. In his abstract photographs, he creates a specific perspective on the club scene by capturing its atmosphere, lights, and movements. After ending his fashion photography training in 1999, Fanghaenel temporarily stepped back from portrait work and turned his focus to abstract photography. This period allowed him to refine a unique photographic technique influenced by impressionist paintings and constructivist photography. Since 2000, Fanghaenel has balanced his photography pursuits with a role as a bouncer in Berlin’s nightlife scene. His path took a significant turn in 2010 when he joined the ranks of Berghain’s bouncers, marking an 11-year hiatus’s end and the rekindling of his portrait photography career.

Photography by George Nebieridze

MR: What inspires you most about Berlin’s nightlife? As a Berghain bouncer, an integral part of Berlin’s techno scene, and someone who interacts as a curator of guests and the gateway into our nightlife and beloved club nights – What do you value most about the techno and club culture?

MF: Freedom and unity. It is unbelievable how many different characters I have met in Berlin‘s nightlife. My first rave was in the 90s and yet Berlin is still going strong. It’s so inspiring to see the younger generations with their very own style but with the same mentality we had 25 years ago.

MR: Your project launched exclusively on Beatport.io where art emerged in Web3 marking a new digital era in electronic music and culture. Where do you see it going in the future? For your creative outlet and the outlet of other artists? Can you envision any other projects in the near future? What else could you imagine creating with AI?

MF: Until this project, I was very hesitant towards NFTs, and everything that I know now I’ve learned in the last months with this project. It feels like an evolutionary step and it is one of the most promising developments in art in recent decades.

MR: Could you imagine only taking place in a digital world, what would that be like?

MF: Wow, I wouldn’t want to live in a reality like this. Dancing and sweating together are crucial for me. In my world, I want to feel the music.

The NFTs were created in collaboration with Berlin agencies AP STUDIOS, People of X, Define Creative and music producers from the Berlin techno scene, who premiere their unreleased music alongside the digital artworks. The first edition was created in collaboration with DJ and producer Len Faki. This special release includes an exclusive bonus track from his latest album, ‘Fusion.’ Furthermore, additional editions with scene musicians such as Ellen Allien, Ben Klock, Freddy K, DVS1, Seth Troxler, Patrick Mason, Gerd Janson, Dixon, Marcel Fengler, Norman Nodge, Roi Perez, and others, will be released at regular intervals. The NFTs are available in three editions: WARDROBE EDITION, DANCEFLOOR EDITION, and COLLECTOR’S EDITION, each released for a limited time. 

Photography by George Nebieridze

MR: What is your connection to AP Studios?

MF: AP Studios has been supporting me since 2017, witnessing my growth, and strengthening my artistic vision. I feel like I evolved with Alexandra from my first steps to standing strong as an artist. 

MR: How did NACHTS evolve through your partnership? 

MF: NACHTS was an idea that grew together with AP Studios. I started to show my portraits of the people I took over the years to give a feeling of what makes the electronic music scene so special to me. Later on with the NFTs we were able to add another dimension to my art and creativity. 

Photography by George Nebieridze

The multipart NFT series premiered on Beatport.io in July 2023, marking the opening of his portrait exhibition during this year’s Berlin Art Week in September. Beatport.io, a platform dedicated to electronic music culture, simultaneously launched with Fanghaenel’s series, stands as a conduit between electronic music culture and cutting-edge technology, fostering digital advancements within the realm of electronic music.

Photography by George Nebieridze

Mischa Fanghaenel’s portrait exhibition will open as part of the Berlin Art Week on September 14, 2023.