Friday, 22 May 2009

Digital canvas

I have a cupboard with a lot of drawers in my sleeping room. On the top of it lies an old C64 monitor and the 1541 drive. Their cables are connected and the C64 lies inside one of the drawers. It's a funny thing, opening your drawers searching for clothes and finding the one with the C64 inside :)

I had a rare feeling one day I switched on my C64, ran a demo and stared at the pixels. Such a low res wide picture elements with only a very specific minimal color pallete, my eyes being able to separate them one by one and yet see the whole picture, lines of assembly code being able to say which of each to lit on with the specific color value, mathematical algorithms or few simple rules that describe what to draw for each picture element. I saw the whole image, I felt it, something that cannot be described by logic but it's a feeling of art and simplicity.

And then I understood. I understood why I can enjoy watching demos in even the slowest machine with the most minimalistic graphics. Why it doesn't make a difference to me whether it's 2bit in 160*200 or 32bit in 1024*768 resolution. I see the difference between how I feel and interact with a computer than the average joe who can't enjoy using or programming in his computer if it's not high tech.

I understand that for me the computer is like a digital canvas. I only need a framebuffer no matter how few the pixels and the colors and a simple programming language to speak with the computer and describe the minimal rules and basic algorithms needed to display something nice in the screen. I have a deep feeling of the connection of the mathematical input and the visual output and I could so much enjoy it even in a calculator.

I can also understand for another time what's so special with the demoscene. Why should I just do my thing and not cry out whether the scene is dead or whether I am not active enough. I have this feeling which cannot be described easilly. This total relation of the algorithmic simplicity and the computer screen, being provided with the least screen elements possible (the pixels) and just being creative and imaginative with them. I can understand demos.

Demoscene is something that will never became as destructively mainstream as what happening with the whole notion of hacking (it's meaning being transformed from pure programming leasure and ingenuity to the lame notion of security breaking). It just lacks the elements needed for the transformation pathway to reach the average joe. Most people find it meaningless and boring while also not ...illegal/cool enough (as in modern "hacking"). It's not for the many and it will never be. It is for those who can understand the inner magic and don't need high-tech and uber-trendy or destructively cool to appreciate.

Those who can also appreciate and actually enjoy oldschool demos, except from modern graphics that everyone can normally relate to, are meaned to get this special feeling. The demoscene is one of the greatest jewels of true mental/visual communication with a computer no matter how old. I can understand it when I watch another demo and I can actually "feel" the demo.

No comments:

Post a Comment