The Demoscene, Now An Irreplaceable Piece Of Cultural Heritage

Break out your tuxedo or your evening gown, we’re going to take in some highbrow culture. A night at the opera perhaps, some Tchaikovsky from the symphony orchestra, or maybe a bit of Shakespeare? No, we’re going to a demo party, because the demoscene is the latest art form to be accepted as officially a part of the national cultural heritage of the Netherlands. This builds on successes adding the scene to the cultural heritage registers of Finland, Germany, and Poland, and should provide a boost to other bids in countries such as Switzerland and eventual UNESCO world acceptance.

It’s all very cool that one of our wider community’s art forms is at last being taken seriously rather than being dismissed by the establishment, because along with greater recognition comes other benefits. Sadly we don’t expect any cities to shell out for a demo auditorium next to the shiny new opera house any time soon, but we can see that it could be used to the benefit of for example a hackerspace chasing grants. meanwhile, feast your eyes on a bit of cultural heritage courtesy of the Dutch Centre For Intangible Cultural Heritage (Dutch language, English translation).

Not sure what the demo scene is? We’ve taken you to a demoparty before.

Header image: People Celebrating Evoke 2019 – Foto Darya Gulyamova

21 thoughts on “The Demoscene, Now An Irreplaceable Piece Of Cultural Heritage

  1. Nothing to do with Finland/Scando/Germany/Sweden, but I don’t think anything will ever beat the the-then internet excitement build-up on the News Groups to the release of Future Crew’s Second Reality back in ’93. I was there. I remember it like it was yesterday.

    1. Based on your reaction, I am guessing you are some combination of:
      In the US
      Born after ~ 1977
      An Apple or PC guy, vs Commodore or Atari

      Coders would spend amazing efforts trying to create new effects, do things that seemed inexplicable, squeeze previously unseen graphics or math application… In a tiny space, often fitting onto a part of a floppy disk. And did I mention the music?

      And they did it just to show it could be done.

      This evolved into meeting events, where people from all over the world (but mostly Europe) would bring their computer demos for their peers to watch. It was all about making amazing visuals and music- generated by programs. That is, nothing like Director/Flash/Shockwave. You wrote the program yourself to exploit the machine’s hardware to the max. The better the hardware, the better the demos generally.

      Needless to say, Apples were kinda useless. Macs and PC started to get on their feet in the later 90’s. It really got started in the early 80’s on 8 bit machines. But not all machines were created equal.

      Hit YouTube and look for:

      1. Those looking for higher quality and/or less Google could also check out my own DemoArts project at where I capture and publish high quality video versions of demoscene productions. Currently publishing on a “every sunday” schedule.

        Codecs used are av1/opus so it should play on most modern systems, with exception of iOS as Apple has yet to support av1 on these devices.

    2. If you insist that people have to explicitly tell you everything because you can’t be bothered doing even the most trivial searches for yourself, it’s little wonder you’re ignorant.

      You obviously couldn’t even be bothered to read the article (which *explicitly* provided a link to a previous article to explain what the demoscene is), so what on earth do you even want them to do?

    3. Look up Farbrausch. Literal translation from German is color rush. One of the best demo groups on Windows. The one that really brought attention to them was “fr-08: .the .product” It generated on the fly around 2 gigabytes of 3D geometry, textures, and audio from a 64K executable file.

      1. 64k – and bragging about space left over. Over 2 gb of textures. Oh did they tell you that it rendered perfectly with nVidias 3d shutter glasses? Brilliant art work, very brilliant programming. You really have to see it.

        It was better than flowphaser/Mac.

        Again, I was there.

  2. I was born in the 90s but I still remember demoscenes quite well, including names like Farbrausch, and the 4KB and 64KB demos. It was a thing to behold as computer technology developed. Nowadays the technologies and improvements in graphics and compute power are taken for granted.

  3. A bunch of strange activists are now the “better” scene. Forget about it. Its another way to control culture influence and catch some cheap money for for crude thesis. Its the dead end of the free.

  4. Lol, the Dutch demo scene has been in purgatory for decades, there haven’t been any “big” parties for over twenty years, only OutLine is hanging by a thread. I’d love a vibrant demo scene again, but I doubt we’ll ever get it back. Declaring it “cultural heritage” after so much time is a bit, as we say in Dutch “mosterd na de maaltijd”.

  5. I was a “scener” starting back in 1986 doing commodore 64 demos mostly for Compunet and swapping with guys around the world. Good times. Got mentioned in Zzap64 a couple of times. The C64 stuff being produced these days is still pushing the limits and it’s great to see my old machine still going strong.

  6. I watched a documentary about it and remember them from back in the 90s. It’s really fascinating as an art form, how people can make really cool stuff with technical constraints. Not all the possibilities we have today. Like an artist just using a small paper and a couple of colors.
    The 90s were really a special time for games when even the keygens and so on etc had such great art and music.
    Thank you for sharing, this is a fantastic scene.

  7. The Demoscene is more relevant as the phenomenon that it is, than e.g. “pointillism”, an art movement (compare pixel art).

    If regarded as a generational bubble, it is as eligible for cultural heritage as e.g. jazz, rock, or metal in music.

    Nationally, it is more wide-spread in the culture than traditional crafts: in each town, there is one who was part, is part, or follows the Demoscene.

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