SEPTEMBER 23-25 and OCTOBER 01-02, 2011 | CURATORIAL
DIGITAL FORMS – Demoscene \ Digital Culture in Real-Time (Part 1)
The demoscene represents one of the most colourful facets of digital culture. Musicians, graphic artists and coders (programmers) form groups and work on a demo, a computer program intended to show their personal skills and abilities in the most impressive way possible. When the demoscene developed out of the hacker scene in the 1980s, a digital youth culture was launched long before the internet had achieved such widespread use. In the beginning the aim was only to crack computer games and “liberate” them from their copy protection. Before they were copied onto floppy disks and spread to all over the world, an intro was then put onto them – just for the sake of showing pride in being more cunning than the software companies and professional programmers. It was not legal, of course. Over time however, the priorities changed. The intros which at first contained little more than a logo and a scrolling text became increasingly complex standalone pieces of work. The incentive behind this development then and now was and is to amaze others, to overcome apparently impossible technical challenges and to exhaust the limits of the hardware. Hence it is no surprise that there are demos for all systems which can be programmed, ranging from normal PCs to mobile telephones, game consoles such as Xbox, PlayStation and Gameboy, classic systems like Commodore 64, Amiga 500 and Atari, through to exotic examples such as the Tamagotchi.
Thanks to competition between various groups, demos have been subject to a high degree of evolutionary pressure so-to-speak in terms of technology and style. On the surface, by now they resemble video art and experimental music videos. However this comparison is misleading. While films as a rule can only play back their images or frames, demos are computer programs that generate these images for the exact moment – in real-time. Although numerous software companies and advertising agencies recruit their creative talent from this scene, up to now the general public has barely been aware of it. This may be due to the basic concept of the genre. Anyone looking for narrative cinema will not find it here. Instead the focus is on technology, design and the search for new visual forms of expression.
Important Note: This program is not suitable for epileptics.
Curator’s Additional NOTE: Stefan Pautze (Felidae / Reflex) from Germany
In early 1998 I left the demoscene, as my group Reflex achieved everything that a Commodore 64 demo group could achieve. I was tired to be a part of a dying branch of the scene and I was tired to explain non-sceners why I spend so much time for my so called hobby. I wanted to have a wider audience for my graphic art and the traditional techniques like ink drawing and intaglio printing came more and more into the focus of my interest.
It took several years before I returned to the computer, producing an experimental short film called „Staubkaskade“ (The Cascade and its Dust), using a self developed software tool, mainly driven by my fascination for fractal geometry. By accident the result looked much more like a demo than an experimental short film. However, it performed well at festivals. To my very suprise hardly any festival or artist I met did ever hear anything about the demoscene before. It turned out that even a lot of the artists with focus on computer based art had no clue. Obviously demoscene and art scene behaved (and still behave) much like parallel worlds. On the one side the demoscene is mainly driven by technology, design and competition. On the other side many digital artworks have good concepts but lack the final technical sophistication.
I started to wonder if a programme about the demoscene would be accepted by the audience of a film festival. As a result of this process the Filmfest Dresden hosted the premiere of the first part of this programme in April 2010, followed by the backup_festival which hosted the premiere of the second part in May 2011 in Weimar.
Elements / Haujobb
4’46″ / Germany – Finland
Doomsday / Complex
5’28″ / Finland
Nine / Reflex
7′ / Germany – Denmark – Portugal – Finland
IX / Moppi Productions
4’24″ / Finland
Memories From the MCP / Brain Control
5’44″ / Germany – Hungary – UK – France
FR-055: 828 / Farbrausch
8’37″ / Germany
Life Force / Andromeda Software Development
8’18″ / UK
Chromosphere / SQNY
4’41″ / Denmark – Finland
Youscope / TVT
3′ / Finland
Stargazer / Orb & Andromeda
4’53″ / Norway – France
Syntax Party 2009 Invitation / Disaster Area
3’44″ / Australia
Elevated / TBC & RGBA
3’35″ / Denmark – Spain
Blunderbuss / Fairlight
2’22″ / UK – Spain