Demos - Art of the 21st Century?

Written by Adok

People in the demoscene have always had doubts whether what they did really made sense, and they consealed themselves behind the fassade of claiming to become the artists of the 21st century but that the reason why demos aren't a topic of public interest is just that the outer world hasn't discovered them yet. With this belief the scene has been running for two dozend years now. Still it is underground culture, art with no importance in the public, nowadays even less importance than it used to be in the highflies of the mid 80's and early 90's home computer generation, when the highest amount of the computer users were freaks that understood their system quite well and were interested in technology. Then you could really amaze people by showing what you produced from the limitied capabilities of the hardware. This has changed on the PC of today: Hardware isn't really limited, coders get lazy and don't give a damn about optimizing for a special configuration, demos have just become a piece of computer art without a major emphasis on the technical aspect. Which is what the scene wanted, actually.

Now however the PC scene is confronted with the question: Which operating system to choose for a new demo platform? Windows 9x? "Nah, too lame, too messy, too big, no neat code possible, just sucks. Let's either switch to an alternative platform such as Linux or stay with DOS."

That's the attitude of the majority of the scene - and that's the reason why demos will never become the Art of the 21st Century unless something basic changes. Art that wants to become popular always has to be mass culture. DOS isn't mass culture. Not any more.

Even worse: People who waste their talents on systems like Amiga or C64. Great people, great systems - but no audience, no possibility of becoming famous, of reaching the high aim to be the Art of the 21st Century. The fruits of their gifts are limited to a small, small public that is steadily becoming smaller with the development and mass-marketing of new, popular systems.

Who needs demos? People can't get impressed by demos that easily anymore. They know too much of that stuff from animations, rendered sequences and Full Screen Movies in computer games, music videos or cinema. Such animations are way easier to produce than a coded, optimized and stable demo with the same content. You need basic knowledge of math and computer technology to figure what a demo is all about. To learn what the impressive things about demos are and why there is a bunch of nerds that is fascinated by them, you even need to have made one yourself.

Similar things as for the code go for the graphics. Today you almost can't distinguish real, hand-pixelled art from scanned, photoshop-retouched crap unless you are an artist yourself. The only light I see is regarding musics. Tunes created by 'music maker' programs of today can't be compared with music by a talented musician. At least today. How much time will pass until this changes?

Long life to the guys of TBL and all the others who prove that the demoscene still has the chance to develop in the right directory.


- adok^hugi