Retro demo / demo workshop
In October 1989, Andromeda was formed and became one of the most leading groups on the Amiga demo scene. On the occasion of their 30th anniversary, they have once again gathered for a workshop to “code, track and pixel” – i.e. programming, making music and drawing. During this weekend, they will also complete and publish a demo on Commodore Amiga 500, gather and preserve a number of digital sources from a formative period in electronic art in Norway, and explore the possibilities for further productions and collaborations. On Sunday, November 27th, they will keep the doors open to the public between 12:00 – 14:00!
In the decade from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, a significant subculture in electronic art spread, starting with Commodore Amiga 2000/500; the so-called ‘Demoscenen’ (‘the Demo Scene’), ‘Amiga-scenen’ (‘the Amiga Scene’), or simply ‘Scenen’ (‘the Scene’). The center of gravity of the scene was particularly Northern Europe. The development of new, and based on today’s scale, powerful home computers at an affordable price, paved the way for a new type of youth culture that spent its free time exploring the new platforms and tools to create aesthetic expressions together, so-called demos. With its innovative chip architecture, Amiga is often considered as the first real multimedia computer and therefore very suitable as a platform for demo production.
A demo is a program designed to show (i.e. demonstrate) the possibilities and the limitations of a digital medium through an aesthetic expression that combines different technological and aesthetic tools, such as real-time graphics rendering (so-called ‘effects’), pixel based graphics, animation, music (sample or chip based), communication (like scroll-text), design and storytelling. Making a demo is a very labor- and competency-demanding process.
After the Amiga group’s bankruptcy in 1994, the demo scene was eventually dominated by others platforms, especially PCs, which changed both the character of the production of demos and that aesthetic expression. However, A500 demos are still being created and there are still being held so-called ‘demo parties’ where you can compete with A500 productions (and a number of others platforms, e.g. A1200, C64, Atari). In recent years, the Amiga scene has seen an upswing, most recently with the demo competition at Revision 2019 in Germany.
Andromeda places itself in the span of a highly vibrant subculture that is constantly evolving by exploring the possibilities and limitations of contemporary as well as presumed obsolete technologies and digital modes of expression.
The occasion for the workshop at BEK is also partly historical and partly creative. In October 1989 the Norwegian demo group Andromeda was formed. During the heyday of the Amiga, during the period from 1990 to 1994 (first A2000 / 500 and then A4000 / 1200), Andromeda became one of the most leading groups in the Amiga demo scene with several international top positions in the biggest demo competitions (2nd place The Gathering 1992, 1st place The Gathering 1994, 1st place The party 1994). In the 2000s, Andromeda released their first PC demos (2nd place) Breakpoint 2007 and 1st place The NVScene Demo Competition 2008). Several of the original members are still active in various data scenes (e.g., Amiga, PC, C64 and pixel art).
The participants in this workshop have all backgrounds in the demo scene and were active on Amiga (A2000 / 500 and A4000 / 1200) in the period 1989-1994. Several of the workshop participants have amongst other experience from art projects and professional backgrounds in the gaming industry, academia, and with animated films (Pixar Studios), not least technology companies focusing on real-time rendering and visualization of large datasets (Virtex).