The Nerds’ Underground Art Scene


The demoscene is something I stumbled upon not too long ago. While I’m not a real contributer myself, I enjoy the company of the open and welcoming sceners, plus their parties are really fun. If you should ever suffer from a serious lack of inspiration and motivation to do something creative, I highly recommend visiting a demoparty and starting conversations with the other attendees.

This scene is not only into graphics programming, but those videos are almost always acompanied by music. This is also true for demos on oldschool hardware like Amiga, C64 and others. Most demoparties also have competition categories specifically for music. There’s also a bunch of people around that make oldschool “chiptune” music outside of these competitions. One of them is Inverse Phase, who uses actual oldschool hardware to produce his recordings, rather than some emulated soundwave generator or software. You can really hear a difference.

At this year’s Hope conference in the U.S.A., Inverse Phase had a session about this “underground art scene”, and its roots.

The Demoscene: How Software Piracy Birthed an Underground Art Scene

Have you ever used old, pirated software and found it came with an “extra” introduction from the person who broke the copy protection? Have you ever watched a music video stored entirely in mere kilobytes of space? There’s a whole community of individuals called the Demoscene trying to make art under extreme limitations, whether it be 3D graphics on an 8-bit Atari, or CD-quality music playback on a Commodore 64. This presentation will explain how that scene came to be, what it consists of now, and of course you’ll see some example demos!

Even if you already now a little bit about the demoscene and how it came to be, I still recommend this talk. He covers the historical part of the scene very well and does a good job capturing the feeling of the “old days”, plus he accompanies it with demos from those times to show the evolution this scene and its productions have gone through.

Fun fact: While the Hopeconf took place and this talk was held, I actually attended a tiny demoparty here in northern Germany :)