PixelJam 2012 LiveJournal

Written by Trixter / Hornet

Friday morning

Inspired Chaos set up the entire "demo lounge" room: The projector, ustream camera, lights, everything. His 12"x12" "pixels" light display is hooked up to a sound sensing circuit on the mixing board, which provides some nice feedback to the scenesat live stream we're listening to in the lounge.

I brought an oldskool machine to tinker on -- a Tandy 1000 EX -- but I forgot to bring a bootable disk, and this is NOT one of the models with DOS in ROM :-( so I have failed massively and am typing up this report instead. I still might get some coding done; I'm downloading a virtualbox DOS environment over the wifi so I can do something oldskool-related, but it's taking a long time to come over. And the project I want to work on is not a 'scene production anyway (more related to vintage computing tools/utilities).

Krue is next to me, tinkering with an Apple IIe -- hope he makes an Apple II demo for it :-) The Carnegie Mellon guys are here too; they're the guys who made the world's first demo for the Apple Lisa, which was also hacked to produce composite color output. All I can see from them are laptops, so who knows what they're planning. The party has another guest -- Max, my 12-yr-old son (yes, demosceners get older and mate!). However, he's not interested in the demos, but rather the Artemis Spaceship Simulator demonstration going on upstairs -- it provides science, weapons, navigation, etc. helms that each player can sit at. Live-action Star Trek :-)

Friday evening

There was a fairly humorous showing of the 1990 documentary "Cyberpunk", where William Gibson and Timothy Leary were interviewed, and futurists proclaimed that computers would interface with people via implants, and "biosoft" would enable us to instantly learn subjects (as portrayed in The Matrix, although this documentary was made a decade before The Matrix). While the documentary had the same feeling as the "where are the flying cars?" advert of 2000, you couldn't help but wonder why some of the things they were predicting 22 years ago haven't happened yet. For example, we now have the 3D accelerator, display, accelerometer, and computer technology for virtual reality (you remember: Headsets, head tracking?), and yet we still don't have it. I wonder why.

People were working on demos but are now attending the glitch/chiptune concerts by the groups _node, Morgan Higby-Flowers, and Colorforms. I am not a fan of this kind of music, so I won't comment on whether or not it was decent. I don't understand how someone standing onstage while patterns play from their gameboy tracker is considered a "live" performance, or how shaping pulse wave noise for 20 minutes is considered music, but whatever, I'm not the target audience. I think that people 30 yrs old and younger like to glitch because they've never experienced analog technology -- they grew up digital, so making digital "dirty" is the only "grunge" they know. But whatever, I'm way too old to be calling myself a demoscener, what do I know :-)

Missle Command also played, which is best described as a cross between the B-52s and Devo. This was better; like a nerdcore group. One of the songs was about Half-Life, another about Blade Runner, and a third that was a mash-up of Portal and Front 242, so hey, can't be all that bad. Not my cup of tea, but they certainly had a lot of fun and engaged the audience.

Saturday afternoon

People are methodically working on productions. The CMU guys have a Vectrex open on the table -- looks like we'll see another world first here if they succeed. Krue is doing some cross-development on an Apple IIe, and I am still kicking myself for not having any productions or gear. I have no idea if anyone is working on a Windows prod; good thing PixelJam is accepting remote entries this year...

Saturday evening

The place is empty -- I guess people are working on their productions? Local participation is pretty thin this year, so I'm hoping the remote entries spice things up. I've been spoiled by large parties; I keep expecting 200+ people to show up. There are about 10 people here. Compo starts in 3 hours.

Start of compo

I have a front-row seat -- I wonder why nobody else is in the front row with me and HOLY FUCK THAT IS LOUD

Jim "Monk" Scott is "hosting" the event, starting first by explaining what demos are and their history for the local people. This introduction concluded with the truly horrible PixelJam glitch invite, followed by the awesome Block Party 2011 Which Never Happened invite. Coda is amazing, he's in my top 10 list of favorite scene composers of all time.

Remote entries are from Norway, Sweden, the UK, Germany and others. Seems like the demoparty is North American, but the majority of entries aren't.

Freestyle Music

The Freestyle Music compo is a grand total of two entries. While this is mercifully shorter than most typical music compos at NA parties, it is way TOO short. Personally I think it should have been cancelled, or at least someone found to burp out a tune in 10 minutes just to make the compo legit. Hell, I would have tracked something terrible in an hour if someone had asked me.

Freestyle Graphics

Morphine Youth was one of the best entries in the compo -- and was unfortunately already used in the Blu-ray demo at Revision. The party organizers decided to allow it anyway since PixelJam is such a small party and no remote entries get prizes. I disagree with this decision.

Glitch Artware

Front row seat is probably not the best idea for the Glitch "compo". Roughly 30 people in the audience -- there were 30 people at the start, so we haven't lost anyone, that's good. There was a short announcement that we were the first glitch artware compo. There's a very good reason for that (probably the same reason there is a SUCKS value in Partymeister). The first entry is two random noise tracks with a pencil drawing we stare at for four minutes. Seriously. I'd write more about the other entries, but I won't. I don't understand this artform and I never will. I keep thinking that it's a joke genre, like they're intentionally trolling, but if you suggest that, they get belligerent and pissy. Whatever. I think maybe their true artform is pissing people off.

Wild Compo

The wild compo was a nice surprise and a true wild, including a longform video and an Apple II musicdisk :-)

Demo Compo

The demo compo is about to start and I think the glitch compo has caused a brain aneurysm in the sound engineer, as he's naked from the waist up. Not joking.

Demo compo was combined oldskool and newskool, with entries for a gameboy, Vectrex, Javascript, a 4K Linux intro, and Windows. And BITS. I guess any BITS demo is its own horrible platform, right?

Links related to this article

Official PixelJam Party Website
PixelJam 2012 Pouet Page

Trixter / Hornet

PixelJam 2012 Results