The Road to Assland: The Demoscene and Electronic Literature

Abstract (in English): 

The demoscene is a European subculture that gathers computer programmers, who generate computer art in real time, the origins of which date back to the 80s. The most important genre created by the scene are demos – programs of which the sole aim is to impress the audience and demonstrate the abilities of the computer and the programmer. The demos are created in real time during demoparties, their effects are generated by a processor processing input data according to the created algorithm. The demoscene and its works are examples of pioneer creative computing in the field of digital media, at the intersection of computer science, media art and underground subculture. The aim of this paper is to attempt a description of the literary esthetic of the demoscene in scene genres such as demos, real-time texts, interactive fiction or zines. Special attention will devoted to the analysis of these genres in from the perspective of camp, pastiche, trash, bad taste. The point of departure will be the activity of the group Hooy-Program, and one of its members, the demoscener Yerzmyey, the author of various works, including the work of interactive fiction The Road to Assland. The group is treated as characteristic of the general phenomenon. Demoscene creators, programmers, and computer geeks are both artists and programmers, who can appreciate the aesthetics of the programs written for demos and who are aware of the possibilities and limitations of the platforms they use. Platform studies methodology shall be applied to the study of the achievements of Yerzmyey, a scener working with the ZX Spectrum 48 and 128 from 1989, in order to enable focus on the material, formal and historical aspects of programming and language. Media archeology focusing on the textual aspect of the demoscene may be an important discovery for researchers of the beginnings of digital literature and genres of digital-born texts.

(source: ELO 2015 Conference Catalog)

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Hannah Ackermans