Oldskooler Ramblings

the unlikely child born of the home computer wars

Beginnings and Endings

Posted by Trixter on May 25, 2006

There is a great quote from David Cain that explains the birth of most of the underground electronic art scenes, like the demoscene, tracker scene, or ANSI/ASCII art scene: "It is the point where the desires of the creator are greater than the technology which is available." An expanded citing of this quote also reveals how such scenes can self-destruct, and helps illustrate why I dropped out of the demoscene in 1997. It goes:

There comes a moment where the technology gets closer and closer to the imagination and creativity of the writer, and in the end, if you're not careful, it overtakes. And suddenly, serendipity — which before was from your own sweat and blood — comes by saying "If I press one of these 397 buttons, maybe I'll get something out of it." Now, at that moment, the machinery is driving the creativity, and the creativity is (no longer) driving the machinery. — David Cain, BBC Radiophonic composer from 1967-1973

Of course, the challenge is for the end of one age to become the beginning of another.

6 Responses to “Beginnings and Endings”

  1. Midget said


    I’ve been reading your blog for a while, and I recently switched from sage to liferea. When reading in liferea I only get the first few lines of each post, ending with [..]. Could you fix it so I can read the whole post at once, without having to click on a few links? :)

    And yes, WordPress does have a feature for it :)

  2. Trixter said

    No. :-)

  3. Jeremy said

    You don’t site where you heard this quote! :-)

  4. Trixter said

    Yes, thank you ;-)  It was from Alchemists of Sound, a documentary programme on the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

  5. Optimus said

    Quite interesting! Well, maybe the scene has not died, it just evolved. Though it might have lost most of it’s magic because of that. Sometimes I think “At least there is still an impressive scene in 8/16 bits out there as an alternative choice for someone who doesn’t get the kicks from PC demos anymore”. But even in the oldies, you know now how things are done, what tricks are used, you can find the secrets of the hardware on the net easilly, there are tools which make our work easier (I am wondering how some sceners manage to code big demo productions on the real thing. I switched to an emulator for my CPC democoding using an integrated assembler to make my life much much easier ;P). While this evolution makes the scener’s work easier and new tools might help us visualize our wildest ideas faster, projects that would seem preety impossible in the past using the old tools (www.symbos.de the most impressive example for my CPC), thinks that personally make me happy as a developer, maybe I miss the old feeling when several things were pure magical and unknown.

    Another rare feeling that I also didn’t catch up to live is mailswapping. Because everybody had internet at that time when I learned about the demoscene. Though I was happy about that evolution cause I would not possibly be informed about the demoscene community elsewere.

    Sometimes I like to imagine the scene times I never lived and try to feel the magical breeze of those times. Sometimes I get into this by reading very old diskmags, weird stories of our scene grandpas :)

    Could the feeling come back in modern hardware? Is there any place for pure imagination? I bet there is. But I still seem to copy effects done before in the past in my code instead of trying to think of inventing something entirely new and totally imaginative ;)

    Blah blah blah..

    p.s. I read your blog sometimes. That oldschool breeze of your websites. I have you in my blog links here (gubuterboy.blogspot.com)

  6. […] Beginnings and Endings – a great quote that explains the birst of most of the underground electronic art scenes […]

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