Demo-Scene proposed as part of UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

The Demoscene, which is born at the heart of the home computer revolution, has been showing how skills and creativity can be stimulated and implemented in a dynamic cultural practice adopted to digital contexts. Many of its techniques and mindsets became core techniques and influences of the digital change, and are still vibrant today.

Having been part of the demo-scene for many years myself, this is – at least to me – big news. Starting with the arrival of computers and first commercial software, crackers started copying others intellectual property and made an effort overcoming copy protection. Groups formed to not only solve the technical difficulty to ‘crack’ these systems, but also distribute the results. Soon, pretty presentations were included with these files, to advertise the group that managed to overcome copy protection. Shortly after, these presentations turned into their own discipline, giving programmers, music- and graphic artists an opportunity to compete in artistic demos.

The first demos I remember include 42 by halcyon, 4 kings by orange or daze by urinate. Given the first exposure to the hardwares limits, these were fascinating productions that never failed to amaze me. A close friend from the mailbox scene pointed me to the immortal ‘Second Reality‘ by Future Crew, that finally blew my mind.

Second Reality by Future Crew
Second Reality by Future Crew

Among my peers, this demo was the starting point for many people that I spent a lot of time with and some of whom I am still proud to call my friends. The years following I had the opportunity to not only attend many demo parties but actively contribute my own work to competitions and learn fundamental technology from idols I was lucky to meet at these events.

Now recently, Andreas Lange & Tobias Kopka have started an initiative to bring the demoscene onto the list of the UNESCO intangible world cultural heritage. The initiative advocates the mindset and innovation this scene has developed, contributing technology to culture and leveraging technology to create art. It will likely take a long time to proof this influence and all that I have seen in the past twenty years is well worth bringing this scenes achievements to a broader audience.

Demoszene

Source: Demoscene – The Art of Coding – Digital culture as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

#BBS Ad, ca. 1995

Note the “We are connected to” section. #BBS Ad for Mailbox "Cartassia Prime"
Very obviously, Internet was not very popular back then and lists under “coming soon”. While email and internet was available to Universities before, the “Deutsche Telekom” and others only started around the same time to commercialize internet access as a consumer product.

San Francisco – Day Three

Still jet lagged. Woke up at 4, talked to Germany at 5, did some work at 6, left the Hotel at 7, saw a man in a panda costume before 8.

San Francisco – Day Two

More impressions from San Francisco. Day Two. All from the car, between appointments and meetings, with my iPhone.