Tracing the lines of an electronic tattoo

The covert operation of Melbourne techno


  • Botond Vitos Independent researcher



electronic dance music, techno, social aesthetics, virtuality


Based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Melbourne, this article investigates the local techno scene and attempts to establish techno-cultural connections with its roots in Detroit. From a theoretical perspective based on the work of Jean Baudrillard and Kodwo Eshun, three aspects of techno parties are explored, each shaped by the intertwined factors of music, drug and environment. The first discussion considers the hidden and ephemeral fluctuation of the dance floor vibe within the context of an underground scene, which is juxtaposed with the ‘undetectible’ (Eshun 1998: 120) transmissions of early Detroit techno. The two remaining analyses assess the covert operation of techno through the analogy of electronic tattooing, applied first on the human and then on the urban body. The pulsating tattoo lines emerge from technological appropriations that dismantle and reconfigure urban reality, developing the complexities of the Baudrillardian virtual.

Author Biography

Botond Vitos, Independent researcher

Botond Vitos received his PhD degree with a specialization in cultural studies from Monash University, Melbourne in 2014. His PhD project ‘Experiencing Electronic Dance Floors’ was a comparative analysis of Melbourne’s techno and psytrance scenes. His research interests include electronic dance music culture, the media ecology of the electronic dance floor, the development and formation of urban cultures, the mediations of aesthetic experiences, the relationships between music and technology, and the cultural contexts and meanings of drug use.


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How to Cite

Vitos, B. (2015). Tracing the lines of an electronic tattoo: The covert operation of Melbourne techno. Perfect Beat, 16(1-2), 51–70.