State of the Art: mémoires

At this stage is needless to say that Amiga is one of the most loved architectures by its fans, or that its multimedia capabilities made its demoscene one of the most important. One of the most long-remembered productions is, of course, State of the Art, by the group Spaceballs, from 1992.

Technology behind this demo is not groundbreaking. It is true that the use of rotoscope made it very interesting, but for the rest it could go unnoticed. It was however very bold regarding one thing: it was one of the first demos that used mainstream techno themes. For first time you could show it to a person not from demoscene circles (those nerds with their computers!) and exclaim: “That’s dope, dude!”

At its time the demo received very heavy criticism by demoscene community. The majority of the groups didn’t like the mainstream trespass in its land, and much less for music for dunderheads. It also generated an amount of envy, because it caught all attention at the time, and there’s no demoscene group which won’t like that. It even was featured on the MTV! Needless to say, Atari fans were pulling their hair out because this. ☺

The scene hardcore may still say that this demo is no more than a pop music videoclip, but again most demoscene lovers have a great impression of this demo. Reasons are more than obvious: merely watching this demo could make Michael Jordan enter the room and do some dunks, and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air come in and sing some rap. This is the most 90’s you can get, with obvious inspirations in artist of that time, as Technotronic.

Far from resting on their oars, the artist made at the following year another very similar demo, 9 Fingers. Less known, mostly because it lacked the impact of the first one, but nevertheless a more fine sequel. The music (which could be heard in beforehand) was very celebrated, but the demoscene opinion was still hostile as it didn’t show any technical improvements since State of the Art.

Some years ago some guy uploaded the video of the making of, in which one can see the original scenes from which the girls made the dance we see in the demo.

More than !!25 years!! after this demo, in retrospect, it is considered one of the most featured productions ever done in the demoscene. It hasn’t gone without being payed tribute and, in 2015, the veteran group Fairlight presdented in Revision party a demo which won the PC category: Ziphead.

Of course it’s not a second part and it’s unofficial, but the paralelism is clear. The aesthetics of the moment, the insistent techno music, the imperative text centered on the screen… and of course the dancing, not rotoscope this time but realtime 3d renders. Darker, but brings the mainstream to the demoscene in a similar way.

Interestingly, this demo has received from conservative sectors very similar criticism that State of the Art had received back in its days: that it’s just a commercial videoclip, typical loudness wars music, just eye candy novely and no technical skills… while they praise the original. Sadly, it seems that, even in the most learned sectors, memory or personal criteria aren’t aplenty. Other less purist aficionados, however, were delighted with this demo, and many had no qualms cataloguing it as the 2015 State of the Art.

As the bottom line, there are a couple things we could learn: what is commercial rubbish for today’s purists can be a classic tomorrow. The other thing is, of course, that nostalgia sells, even to me.

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