Still from Second Reality, by Future Crew, 1993
With artists Cory Arcangel and Jacob Ciocci, I entered the world of the demoparty. The first night of Demosplash 2012 kicked off with pizza, soft drinks, and a screening of Second Reality, perhaps one of the best known and most imitated demos in history by a Finnish group called Future Crew. For those not in-the-know, demos are short, real-time videos played directly on a computer that feature prismatic color graphics, 3D-like spatial effects at times mesmerizing and dizzying, and catchy techno sounds that make you feel like dancing. Old computer demos are artworks in themselves. Feats of technical skill meant to showcase and stretch the hardware of a computer through the prowess of programming, like Second Reality (originally released as a PC demo in 1993), set the rhythm for Demosplash’s weekend-long events hosted by the 30-year old Computer Club of Carnegie Mellon. On stage that evening was the Club’s collection of antiques made miraculously functional by a band of miked expert/commentators wearing Demosplash t-shirts running back and forth trading cables between various pieces of hardware, including the Commodore 64, the Amiga, Atari 8-bit, and both the Apple II and Apple’s Lisa to name a few. Sadly, the chiptune rave was postponed due to technical difficulties—all the more reason to come back next year.