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Code as a creative tool

March 23rd, 2009
Siana festival (23-29 March 2009 in Evry, France) focused on creating a bridge between people and artists using software tools through expositions, conferences and workshops. Within this context, Julien gave a workshop on the use of code as a creative tool for artistic expression.

A brief history of time

The first part of the workshop was dedicated to the history of the demoscene on two popular computers that appeared in the middle of the eighties : the Atari ST and the Amiga.
Their innovative performances for that time made those two computers popular game platforms. Games were often expensive and quickly an underground hackers scene rose to remove protections, thus allowing easy copies and spread.

Intros
A popular practice for hackers was to put some text as an introduction to sign their exploits, just before the start of the game. Usually it was a good place to put their screen names and greet some friends. The competition quickly became intense, and some of the hackers decided to make those introductions a bit more eye candy by putting some animated graphics (scrolltexts!), hand-made logos and music.
The first cracktros were born (creative cracking pleasure!) The purpose was to impress other hackers by showing their creative skills. The interest for hackers slowly slipped from cracking games to making intros only, as it was a far more motivating challenge.

Demos
Some groups of hackers decided to dedicate their time to create intros only and gather them in production called megademos. Technically speaking, those pieces of code were more advanced than most of the crappy video games of the end of the 80's. Some intros even contained some exploits that were thought impossible to achieve on a computer at that time (for exemple, fullscreen and syncscroll on Atari ST).

Go ahead, watch it fullscreen ;-)

Outils contemporains de créations graphiques

Assembler was the primary language used to code demos and games on Atari/Amiga and no tools existed to ease the process of creating visual animations.
Twenty years later, many open-source programming tools were released thanks to the internet. The workshop was the place to overview some of them (Context Free, NodeBox, Shoes, Openframeworks) and start practising on Processing.

English