[demoreview #7: pressing 'esc'..........................]
The other side of demoscene: art that doesn't look like art

Where did I see that painting before?
Art is usually about beauty, and the demos pretend to be art. But this time we'll talk about those demos that, for a reason or another, can't manage to surpass the thin line that divides "nice looking" from ugly.

We can generally subdivide those productions in three main categories:

1) demos that are enclosed in the concept of kitsch, that is the reproposal of well-known themes without any artistical or innovative content
2) demos that push the latest technology or algorithm, but end with forgetting the artistical side of a demoscenic production
3) demos that voluntarily use an ugly or childish language, or even the category of "disturbing" demos

Let's see some of them.

1. 90% of demos

An unsuspectably high number of demos probably falls into the first category.

If we think of it, the beginning of the scene is full of this type of productions.
The scene built initially a language made of stereotypes: the sine scrollers, the shadebobs, the vectorballs or particle effects, the flat-shaded spinning cubes and so on. Hundreds if not thousands of demos reproposed this kind of effects ad nauseam, sometimes justifying themselves with the will to break another "record" by one more unit.
But we can "forgive" this first wave of demos, maybe because initially the scene itself was born as something very far from pure art.
The only girl that wakes up with a chiptune
What we can't forgive is the demoscenic production that comes after 1995, era in which demos start to become a real artistic expression.

A demo like "Wizards" (The Party 2002, the last "The Party", indeed) is an example of this category. The demo is really short. We can see a little flyby that proposes the classic stereotypes of demoscene: the fight between two monsters or supernatural creatures, the particle effects, the Cornell Box alike illumination of the last scene. What is "wrong" is realization: the floor shows a classic checkerboard tile, there are candelabra on the table and the texture of a classic painting on the wall (probably directly from Google Images).

Another example of stereotyped demo is "Sleepless" by Smash Designs (or any other Smash Designs' demo, by the way 8-): even here we have the humanoid scene in a plastic environment, but "Sleepless", for other reasons (mainly the advanced "software rendering" engine) manages to surpass this category, and become a bridge to the second one.

2. we have bump mapping

Sometimes sceners follow so hardly the usage of the latest technology that, when they are about to produce the demo, they forget about artistical content.
A dog, toruses, and coder colours

After fr-08, there was a rush towards the creation of the definitive tool for demos. Sometimes this brought to excellent results that maybe surpass the original (see Conspiracy's tools), sometimes brought to disasters.

And it's of a disaster that we're talking about if we look at productions like "Krinoefl-3d" of Da Breaker Crew: it's the example of a demo built without the help of a graphician. The textures fight each other, there is no design or coherence or omogeneity between the scenes of the intro.

The same thing happens, if we go back over when the tools didn't exist yet (or they had another name), in the "State of Hate" demo by Dubius. Technically, the demo is pretty advanced for the era it was created (around 1995). We can find in it, in fact, high resolution, dynamic shadows, environmental mapping. Unfortunately, the choose of colours and objects penalizes the demo: the objects are simple solids or cliches of computer graphics, the colours are plain green or reds, or the anonymous black background.

Surely Dubius will get better in their next productions.

3. CGA (for your eyes only)

So why did I buy a 500$ 3d card?
And we are at demos that *want* to play ugly.

Search for ugliness is not less painful than search for beauty.
"Deutsche Telekom" was one of the first accelerated intros that didn't look like all the other accelerated stuff. Only four colors are used: the Color Graphics Adapter ones.

One more time the scene limits itself in order to surpass its limits.
The mosaic effect reduces even more the resolution of the images that scroll on the screen. If this would have been the demo of an unknown group we would have pressed 'esc' after less than ten seconds. But this is a kewlers demo, the same group that will delight us with jewels like "1995".

The research for art travels even through the streets of what most of us find disturbing.
Now, did this post manage not to be ugly?

posted by friol at 10/25/2007 11:16:00 PM - under: , , - comments? here (2)

2 commenti:

Optimus ha detto...

Wow! That wizard thing is very funny. Should have made it into craptastic democoding blog!!!

Optimus ha detto...

Hmm,. it doesn't affect me when a demo is good technically not matter if it's ugly. At least not the ugly that make things look preety awful and destroys the effect. For example, some demos are considered ugly or having coders colors, but I sometimes do like those colors that are considered bad or I don't find them particularly ugly. I wouldn't press escape on sleepless for example. Also some people consider noise and minimalistic colours as art.

But yes sometimes the wrong colors destroy the effects. For example, the 2d bump mapping effects look great but I have seen some demos where the colors were bleeding and I didn't enjoyed the effect because of that. But that's just a good pallete choice or clamping the calculated color values in the code so that it doesn't overflow and bleed.

the tunnel - demoscene blog - (c) friol 2k10