While the tech art world has been chewing over the implications of the New Aesthetic, simmering away in the background has been a scene that has remained a constant for over 25 years—ever since the dawn of affordable home computers back in the early 1980s.
This esoteric subculture is the demoscene, a thriving underground movement that’s been exploring and generating art with computers since the Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, and Amstrad CPC. I’m not going to go into too much details about it, partly because I’m no expert and partly because other more learned people have written about it like the guys from the Audio Visual Academy blog. And also because that would be taking away the job of the documentary above from Moleman called Moleman 2 – Demoscene: The Art of the Algorithms.
But, basically, the demoscene revolves around groups competing in real-time to generate graphics synced with music. Here’s part of the blurb from the film:
Computers provided an opportunity for the creator to produce visuals and sound effects and combine them to create the ultimate audiovisual experience, by using only the language of mathematics and writing program code, without physical interaction. As a result of such techniques, demos were born, and with them, the demoscene subculture. A demo can best be understood as a spectacular animated music video which is usually a few minutes long. And yet it’s something entirely different from a traditional video. Computer technics is the fastest developing part of our world, which produces more and more new opportunities for art. Moleman shows you now a digital subculture, where artists don’t use always the latest technology, but their aim is also to bring out the best from 30 year-old computer technics.
So, if you’re someone who’s involved in the scene you’ll no doubt enjoy this look at its history, talking to practitioners across the globe—if you’ve never heard of it then you may well learn something.