Blip vs LCP: Alike vs Unlike

With only a week inbetween, two large 8-bit events took place in Scandinavia last month: the music festival Blip in Aalborg (Denmark) and the demoscene event Little Computer People in Malmö (Sweden). Only a few hours inbetween, the geographical distance proved to be much smaller than the cultural distance…

Many were surprised by the choice of location for Blip. Aalborg is a small town and not the most accessible place in the world. The venue, Platform 4, was also located non-central, in a great industrial area about to be torn down. The venue had a nice vibe to it with the largest backstage area ever, and hundreds of television sets collected from a hotel going flat(screen).

LCP was placed in a somewhat similar setting, but in a gallery-area of a crime-heavy part of the larger city Malmö. The venue was actually an art gallery, which I thought placed the demoscene perfectly inbetween crime and art. (the demoscene has its roots in e.g cracking)

photo: Optiroc

A music festival and a demoparty naturally attracts different crowds, but it was striking how few people were present at both events (me, Nullsleep, Random, Chantal Goret, and Linde). The demoscene and the chipmusic world are quite different in demography, aesthetics, norms, platforms, etcetera. In short, LCP is dominated by C64 and a sort of engineer craftmanship (“hacker aesthetics” as defined in a forthcoming doctoral thesis by Daniel Botz) whereas Blip is more concerned with Gameboys and dance(able) music. I witnessed something similar this week in Finland with the bloated demoparty Assembly and the bleepy club Lisäelämä.

Personally, I like exceptions in any setting. At LCP there was for example 8bitpeoples’ space-glitchy NES-demo Shaping Reality and Mortimer Twang’s skweee-song – both not fitting into the traditional demoscene aesthetics. I contributed with an Amiga song using texts, images and executables as audio to form a slow noisy groove that ended up second last in the competition. At Blip Bodenständing 2000 stood out the most to me, performing their bizarre mix of open-atari-tracker-nerd-hacker-acapella-pop-rave (since 1999!).


The difference between LCP and Blip is perhaps most clearly manifested in the visual content. The VJs at Blip (C-men, Raquel Meyers, Paris + Rosa Menkman, No-Carrier) all tended towards a frenetic and glitchy style, rapidly switching between different content and synchronizing it to the beat. At LCP, such things were rather absent, as usual. Synchronization is surpisingly absent in demoscene productions considering the possibilities to connect sounds and visuals since both generated in real-time.

There is a growing synergy as VJs, traditionally live-sequencing recorded video clips, head deeper into the machine to make visuals generated at runtime. This is a step towards the demoscene and its dogmas of from-scratch coding for real-time execution. When No-Carrier made his NES-graphics presentation, he gave a coherent introduction that explained how you could use the features (aka limitations) of the NES. He also revelaed that before his NES-programming (glitchNES, galleryNES) he had no prior coding experience. Nevertheless, he uses the notoriously complicated assembly programming language to gain maximum control of the hardware – just like the 8-bit demosceners. And in fact, he coded the 8bitpeoples-demo released at LCP.

(Nullsleep + No Carrier @ Blip Festival 2009, filmed by Saskrotch)

It seems that Blip and LCP shows two different schools of 8-bit computing. The Blip-way is to amplify artifacts and platform-specific features, often involving glitches. The LCP-way is also highly platform-specific since a hardcore demo only runs on a specific set-up (ie Amiga500 but not Amiga600). It is technically platform-specific, but usually not aesthetically. A good demo does not have glitches and other artifacts of the platform. It seems important for a demoscene-author to show that s/he is in control.

There are tendencies in the demoscene towards the embrace of the quirks of hard/software, somewhat similar to what Viznut calls post-technical. It is a good term from a demo-coder perspective – leaving code-skill-flexing behind for more expressive productions. But from a broader aesthetical perspective I think it makes more sense to call it techno-centric, because the inate character of technology is not supressed.

As for chipmusic, the aesthetical dogmas is what defines it as a music genre (the form). But behind that appearance is a myriad of experimental methods and music that stretches far beyond the general traditionalism of the demoscene. There is an openness to pluralism. To me, there is a similar situation in the demoscene where the subculture is bound together not so much by style but by methodologies. But how will they interact with eachother in the future? Will more demoscene-musicians do performances in chipmusic contexts? Will chipmusic-VJs work more with coding and release demos?

Hot greetz to some of the musicians that attended Blip but didn’t perform: m-.-n, Divag, Linde, Phlogiston, Drax, and Chantal Goret!

17 Responses to “Blip vs LCP: Alike vs Unlike”

  1. 10k Says:

    This was a really interesting read. I look forward to comparing the aus demoscene and our chip parties with some of these thoughts in mind.

  2. yonxUP Says:

    the lack-of-sync era on low-end machines in the demoscene is about to end, seen?!

  3. NielDLR Says:

    Very interesting comparison of the demoscene and chipmusic. I would love to have been in the fortunate position to go to both and see the difference myself. Keep up the good blog man!

  4. Johan Says:

    I very much don’t agree – I thought many of the LCP demos stood out just because they synced visuals and music. In the winner demo, the filter sweeps stood out the most. “Still Ready” also must have put huge effort in syncing audio and visuals.

    I wouldn’t say assembly is complicated either, but what do I know.

  5. Blip vs LCP: O melhor vs O pior « Chiptuneportugal Says:

    […] Na senda dos  últimos dois festivais que aconteceram na Escandinávia, no mês passado, fica aqui um comparativo dos dois festivais escrito pelo Goto80. Artigo a não […]

  6. yonxUP Says:

    @johan: there is quite a difference between syncing one effect or two to audio using a script vs. using audio as the foundation for visuals vj-style by using frequency analysis to modulate visual properties in realtime..

    i do however feel that difference in visual style between lcp democompo vs. the livevisuals shown at the blip festivals is probably more dependent on the context than subculture-specific style. while the VJ-sets at the blip festival might have been audiofueled (like any VJ-sets regardless of genre), the 8bitpeoples demo @ lcp did not contain much of that..

    i still hope that there will come more stuff on lo-fi platforms similar to

  7. b-knox Says:

    assembly is really simple, limited number of opcodes to learn and all that

    that is, until you try to do something complicated

    memory management, working with large number, multiplying and dividing are all up to the coder xD

  8. linde Says:

    Greetings to you too! I think that typical LCP and Blip attendees are engineers and explorers respectively. I like the “blip way” because it’s very information economic: it pretty much just shows what is already there with very few abstractions between the raw data and the video processor, but of course I like to be baffled by technically impressive effects, too.

    Of course I don’t have to pick sides, but some primitively human part of me still wants to, and I can’t decide. :)


    […] CHIPFLIP. Share […]

  10. k9d Says:

    good read, thanks for reporting! i think there’s no need to pick sides and we will see more cross over. or maybe the cross over kings will remain a cool select bunch =)

  11. chipflip Says:

    @linde: does this have anything to do with why you haven’t released vicficken in the demoscene? :)

    @markus: a good point for audio/video-sync, but whether or not the visuals are interconnected with the audio, i still feel a difference in style. and it seems to me that the fast-editing-frenetic-“glitchy” style is more often used by VJs than democoders.

    @johan: perhaps this year’s lcp did have more a/v-sync than usual, but as you said yourself, that made them stand out. i was trying to make a broader point about the demoscene, but maybe i over-generalized the lcp-compo slightly.

    @k9d: picking sides is a silly idea, but there seems to be something that makes most of ‘us’ choose side.

  12. yonxUP Says:

    it’s weird that audiosync still haven’t come to the lo-fi platforms while it has been more or less mandatory in the pc-scene for the last decade.. i mean this sucka has been around for 9 years now

  13. Johan Says:

    for me, the great divider between lcp and blip was kattegat

  14. Akira Says:

    Lots of Amiga demos of the 90s had audio sync as well. To me it’s something basic that has been lost in a lot of productions, specially on PC scene’s flyby lame-mos

  15. chipflip Says:

    There were demos with audio sync even in the beginning of the demoscene; VU-meters and synched animations, through to more complex things of the Amiga scene of the 90s. Still, it was never a norm – it was not featured in a majority of demos. Like Yonx, I believe that there’s more sync in PC-demos in general, especially today. But you disagree, Akira?

  16. Playlist Exhibition: Materialism vs Symbolics, Music vs Visuals « CHIPFLIP Says:

    […] But anyway – the purpose of the exhibition is not to give some nerdy history lesson, it’s about exploring a concept. To me, the concept does not evolve around that people make 8-bit music/art, but what they make and in what context. Demosceners beware – it’s not about full frame-rate super perfect new impressive effects, but usually quite the opposite. Don’t control it, set it free. I wrote about this difference between the demoscene and contemporary chipmusic before. […]

  17. We call them VJs « CHIPFLIP Says:

    […] written before about the popularity of glitch in the chipscene. In Europe Gijs Gieskes (nl), RealMyop (fr) […]

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