Icons 2008 party review

By Maija "DiamonDie" Haavisto

Icons 2008 was the second incarnation of the party. The first event was organized in February 2007 in a school, but this one took place in early June at the Cable Factory in Helsinki - the same venue as with the last Altparty, but a different spot. It is a great location in regards to both public transportation and services, with many large stores, restaurants and fast food joints nearby. The hall was smaller than the one where Altparty was held and felt more cozy to me. Besides the long tables there was a small stage, a fairly big screen and some sofas for visitors to crash on.

The party had some cool features, such as the natural media compo familiar from the previous Icons, where you could enter anything from painting to sculpture. There was supposed to be a lego compo too, but it was cancelled due to the lack of entries. The only entry was successfully merged into the natural media compo (and won it, despite being accidentally broken by some Swedes). Another great idea was the Post-It graffiti wall, sponsored by 3M. There were piles of Post-It notes of different colors and visitors decorated the wall with pictures and text made with them. Jumalauta organized a UNO compo like last year, though I'm not sure who won it.

June is a nicer month for partying than February, especially in Finland. It was probably the reason why so many foreigners had come for the party, from Sweden, Germany and Denmark. The weather forecast had predicted a massive heatwave, but in reality it was moderately warm, with a cool breeze coming from the nearby sea. A barbeque had been built near the party place and many people were boozing in front of the Cable Factory, which didn't seem to cause any problems. Alcohol was forbidden in the party place, but it was still discreetly being consumed.

The compos varied widely in quantity and quality. There were two new compos: the 1K intro compo and the soundtrack compo, where the aim was to record an audio track (either music, voice acting or a combination of both) for one of two bizarre video clips apparently originating from archive.org. I'd have assumed that such an interesting compo get a lot of entries but no, there were only three. On the other hand the dance music compo had a total of 18 entries, which I sadly missed because it was held at such a late hour. The dancers got so wild there was even some (male) striptease during the compo.

This year the normal music compo, the drawn graphics compo and the live wild compo had been ditched. Live performances were now allowed in the normal wild compo, which almost reminded me of Altparty as there was a 35 mm film show by nosfe, a 30-minute gig by Valmet Brothers and a performance by the Alternative Party organizers which ended in every party visitor being given a pink popsicle. There was also a neat 3D animation that won the compo and an entry by Kosmoplovci, but most of the rest were more or less joke prods aimed at amusing the audience and scoring votes.

The 1K compo had many entries that weren't too impressive even for their size, but TBC's Himalaya was a sure winner from the second it was shown on the screen. Trilobit also had an interesting prod with several "scenes". There were six entries in the graphics compo and seven in natural media, all of fairly nice quality, though the only one that really stood out to me was Illustrational Navigation, which won the graphics compo. Flashscene.org also showcased the entries to their "one part demo" compo.

The demo compo offered a real surprise with its whopping 22 entries, a number partly explained by several remote entries. As the 64k compo had been cancelled due to lack of entries, it was also combined with the demo compo. There were some joke prods (Jumalauta, ISO and wAMMA all featured), some "firstros" and some demos that just seemed to drag on and on and on endlessly, but some very enjoyable ones too. My favorite was the FIT demo which won the compo. Strangely MFX only ranked #13 with a demo that was one of my favorites. Matt Current and Jugi's ethereal art demo also didn't fit in the TOP-10.

There were some gigs and DJ sets during the party. On Friday night Speedhawk and Riktronik played a live show of their groovy videogame remixes, but for some reason there was no dancing nor even applause when the gig ended. The band Grey Park also had a performance on Friday, though it seemed to be just a video show with nosfe's projector. On Saturday evening trsctr (rjv of Takomo) spun some jungle, but again the response was lukewarm: only me and one other guy were dancing. Roz/RNO and Gr/wAMMA also performed on Friday night and some other DJs on Saturday(?) but I missed those.

Besides the gigs and compos there wasn't much other programme - just boozing and barbequing and posing for the numerous cameras. There were no real demoshows, just the normal "uh, it's morning and there's nothing to do, so let's watch random demos and YouTube videos on the bigscreen". People did find interesting ways to entertain themselves, like the Scandinavians who watched soccer during the demo compo. There were also brief encounters of sceneboy love and scene(?)girl love.

The prize giving was scheduled for the ungodly hour of 10 AM on Sunday, but was, of course, late by some 1.5 hours. After the messed up prize giving at last year's Icons it felt more organized, but sadly there were no decent prizes this year. All the winners,

including the winners of the demo compo, walked away with either Ubuntu CDs, bananas or both. Only the flashscene.org winners got real prizes (and for some peculiar reason the organizers of the compo just happened to win the Nintendo DS).

In general the party seemed unorganized despite quite a few successful things. There were often delays of several hours and the compos weren't properly announced, which sometimes made it hard to figure out whether a compo had already begun or whether it was just something random on the screen. I was a bit puzzled by the silly "prizes", considering that the previous party had featured decent stuff for the winners, but I guess you can't always get lucky with sponsors.

I did enjoy the party, but it didn't really stand out to me aside from the compo selection. I did meet some new people, which is always nice. There were several first-timers to (non-Assembly) demoparties and I wonder if they will show up again. In total there were probably about 100-120 visitors, but many of them only showed up on Saturday evening and the rest of the time the party place felt a bit empty. I guess people are getting old.

Maija "DiamonDie" Haavisto

[Icons 2008 Results]