demoshow at the MAL Thursday August 18th 4:30pm by Polish scholars/artists

For the month of August, the Media Archaeology Lab has been honored indeed to host Professor Piotr Marecki (from the the Institute of Culture at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow and lecturer at the Film School in Łódź, Poland) and Yerzmyey, a lo-fi artist, demoscener, musician, graphic artist, photographer, and writer also from Krakow, Poland.

As a way to celebrate their visit, we’d be very happy to see you at the MAL Thursday at 4:30pm. This will be 90-minute demoshow of the work they’ve been doing in the lab with their commentary. They will use original ZX Spectrum machines, but also local clones like Timex, Speccy 2010, Zx-Uno, and the ZX Vega console.

More information below – again, please come and/or spread the word!

When: 4:30pm Thursday August 18th
Where: Media Archaeology Lab, 1320 Grandview Avenue, lower level
What: ZX Spectrum Scene Poetry Collection

This project is demoscene and ZX Spectrum oriented. What is the demoscene? This phenomenon is apparent to those with advanced understanding of digital media. In the book Freax. The Brief History of Computer Demoscene it is stated that “almost all modern art genres have an underground stream that can not be found anywhere, or bought in shops, and only insiders know of its existence.” Adjectives such as illegal, grassroots, independent and DIY aesthetics are often related with this field and practice. The term itself is derived from the word “demonstration” and refers to the demonstration of the capabilities of a platform and the skills of a programmer. A basic understanding of the demoscene will treat it as “a subculture in the computer underground culture universe, dealing with the creative and constructive side of technology” (Demoscene FAQ). The demoscene, as a phenomenon developed from the 80s mainly in Central, Eastern and Northern Europe, was created as a response to the lack of legal access to hardware and software. The demoscene is composed of demosceners, that is – as they define themselves ironically – “a bunch of boozing computer nerds, programming weird, useless multimedia stuff” (Demoscene FAQ). This phenomenon comes directly from the “cracker” community, namely traders and distributors of illegal software, who by copying games and other programs left behind their signature on them (in effect, a satisfied customer had to go back for more merchandise). In the field of digital media demosceners have unique knowledge of the platform, as well as the languages of the program. During organized parties by sceners, demosceners (by using nicknames) are always affiliated with a platform, for example ZX Spectrum, C-64, Commodore Amiga and PC (just as some academics are affiliated with various institutions in which they work and with which they identify). In the world of digital media this is the only such community in which the platform fills such an important role in terms of identification. The demoscene is in other words art generated in real time. The genres created by demosceners are demos and intros, or pieces of music and graphics that have no purpose other than to amaze the audience (usually also well versed in a given platform or programing language). It is worth to emphisazie that demoscene gathers programmes involed wit programming for fun. Our project focuses on one particular demoscene platform, the ZX Spectrum, which was popular mainly in Europe (despite attempts, the platform was never popularized in the United States). The aim of the research project is to put in context the phenomenon of ZX Spectrum scene poetry. Demosceners themself don’t call themself artists, they mostly treat their creative activity as a hobby. Many demos are treated as a kind of video clip, hence the demoscene was usually contextualized as a phenomenon from the field of digital media and audiovisual art. There exist several demos of which an integral part is constituted by text and poetry, and we want to distinguish those demos which we can call scene poetry. During our reasearch project such a collection of ZX Spectrum demos will be built. This project takes into account and affirms the local perspective, different from the dominant one (ZX Spectrum as platform and demoscene as form of activity are very local). So our collection consists of creative works not only in English, but also in Russian, Polish and Czech. This is also a project built at the intersection between a few fields in creative computing (eg. electronic literature, electronic music, demoscene).

Piotr Marecki, editor, publisher, translator of experimental literature (with Aleksandra Małecka), cultural studies and digital culture scholar. President of Korporacja Ha!art Foundation, supporting contemporary, innovative, experimental art and culture. Since 1999 editor-in- chief of postdisciplinary journal of art and culture Ha!art. He has organised and co-organised numerous literary festivals, events, conferences and media art shows, including Ha!vantgarde International Literary Festlab. Assistant professor in the Institute of Culture at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow and lecturer at the Film School in Łódź. He is also the head of creative computing lab at the Jagiellonian University. In 2013-14 he did a postdoc at Massachussets Institute of Technology at the Trope Tank lab. His numerous publications, such as Tekstylia, Tekstylia bis, Liternet.pl, Post-1989 Polish Literature in the light of Pierre Bourdieu’s theory, include lexicons, volumes of essays, a textbook, and a guide on contemporary Polish literature, which focus on new, innovative trends and electronic literature, demoscene. His recent collaborations include the conceptual book 2×6 with Nick Montfort, Serge Bouchardon, Andrew Campana, Natalia Fedorova, Carlos León and Aleksandra Małecka published by Les Figues Press, Los Angeles in 2016. Currently works on a ZX Spectrum monograph (together with Yerzmyey and Hellboj). Based in Kraków, Poland.

Yerzmyey – lo-fi artist: demoscener, musician, graphic artist, photographer, writer. Since 1989 the creator of the Hooy-Program. Author and co-author of numerous demos, intros, graphics, chiptune songs, interactive fiction, games, collection of photos. Those works have been presented around the world (Europe, Russia, USA, Asia). He is mostly a ZX Spectrum artist, but also works with Atari and Amiga computers, Commodore 264 series, the Raspberry Pi and many others. He is the co-author of a creative computing lab at the Jagiellonian University. Currently works on a ZX Spectrum monograph (together with Piotr Marecki and Hellboj). Based in Kraków, Poland.

Software used:

  • SoundTracker on ZX Spectrum and ZX81
  • NeoTracker on Atari XL/XE
  • E-Tracker on SAM Coupe computer (Spectrum Advanced Machine)
  • MusicMon on ATARI 520ST
  • DigiComposer on ATARI 520ST
  • ProTracker on ATARI 520 ST
  • Hex-Tracker on ATARI 520ST and ATARI TT
  • Octalyser on ATARI 1040 STE
  • OctaMED on AMIGA 500
  • DigiBooster on AMIGA 1200
  • Digital Home Studio (DHS-Tracker) on ATARI Falcon 030
  • Milky-Tracker on the Raspberry Pi 2
  • and more!

Important links:

Research project financed by the program of the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education “National Programme for the Development of Humanities” for the years 2016-2019.