I have been interviewed about my pixel art (mainly) and comics at 8bit today. Click on the image above to traverse to the wonderful world of the 16 color machine palette, of 4 channel sound, when 256k of memory weren't 'enough for everybody' but more like manna from the techno-gods. Some added thoughts after the jump.
Sander van den Borne, who did the piece and conducted the interview comes from a demoscene background. For the readers of this blog, 'demoscene' might be a completely new word so here's in a nutshell what it is: When personal computers became affordable back in the 80's a lot of introvert children learned to do code, graphics routines and compose music on them in the privacy of their own bedrooms.You know at least one of these people if you think about it. Some employed these skills to make computer games, and back in that time it was entirely possible to make a hit game on the microcomputer just by yourself in your bedroom and become a professional game programmer once it got picked up by a publishing house.
Others employed their technical skills on these microcomputers to crack the protection of games put out by the companies of the time, so they can be copied freely from the original disks to backup floppies. They would then put these games on underground BBSes (the precursor of the internet, in a way) for other people to download, or just disk-trade them away. If you're over 30 and have an interest in videogaming you've probably played something that has been cracked by one of these people. A 'scene' solidified around this application of getting games for free, which still is very much alive today. Everything that you download and play on your PC illegally has been cracked by someone that belongs to a group with a fancy name like 'Razor' or 'Fairlight'. If you check you'll see they've usually put their name somewhere, be it in the filename, a small demo in the cracker utility, something.
Some of these active teenagers back in the day were also making crack intros to the games they cracked, it all started pretty lowbrow will just some scroller sending out greetings and admonitions to other scene people, but as more people got involved the crack intro scene spawned a very competitive sub-scene in more elaborate intros, with music and fullscreen graphics and code routines that seemingly defied the paltry limitations of the 8-bit machine they were working on. Look at this for a standout example of that aesthetic of the era. This is by the demoscene group 'Crest'. The machine this is running for natively - and from where the video and audio data is captured - is a commodore 64. These demos came in competition in large demo-parties, where they were ranked by the popular vote.
Sander van den Borne is a person that has experienced the demoscene first-hand for a quite relevant period. You can see the collection of his work here. It is especially worthwhile, if you're interested, to watch the demos and look at the graphics he's done chronologically so you can see how the aesthetic zeitgeist of the early 90's was definite for the demoscene, and how he - amongst others - has tried to move from there to more individual approaches. Look at this, for example. I have respect and admiration for Sander and it's a privilege to be interviewed by him on 8-bit today.
I was marginally involved in the commodore 64 demoscene, which is still going almost 30 years after the release of this particular 8-bit machine for a time, because I had taken to doing graphics with the limitations of its main two visual modes, hi-res (square pixels, 320x200 screen, only two colors from the machine 16 color palette on every 8x8 cell at a time) and multicolor (every picture element is two pixels wide, only 3 colors from the palette plus one global color that is the same for the whole picture). I made these pieces of artwork because I am fascinated by limitations, as I explain in the interview. I did not get involved in the social aspect of the scene and as such I cannot talk about its conception of my work from the inside. From the presentation and interview it is my understanding that some of the work I've done for that machine has been of interest to some.
I do a lot of pixel-art, some professionally, some not, using a lot of limitations that are more fabricated than the c64 ones. I do not post about pixel art on this blog because I'm trying to not make it into a 'everything Helm has done, is doing and will ever do' blog. Perhaps it's a mistake to not go that way because then I would be able to post almost every-day with the various bits of creativity I channel to pixel art, to music, to the critique process. I kinda like the idea of this blog being 'pure' though, I don't know. What do you think, should I post more about my other creative endeavors besides comics?
Edit: keep in mind that if you say 'yes' you might be subjected, some days, to my imaginary stillbirths such as this edit.