January 15, 2019

A Bit about Alphabit

from Post Position
by @ 9:38 am

During Synchrony 2019, on the train from New York City to Montreal, two of us (nom de nom and shifty) wrote a 64 byte Commodore 64 program which ended up in the Old School competition. (It could have also gone into the Nano competition for <=256 byte productions.) Our Alphabit edged out the one other fine entry in Old School,a Sega Genesis production by ModeDude also written on the train.

December 26, 2018

Taper #2 is Out

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by @ 10:52 pm

The second issue of Taper, a literary magazine featuring small-scale computational work, is now online.

The second issue was edited by Sebastian Bartlett, Lillian-Yvonne Bertram, Angela Chang, Judy Heflin, and Rachel Paige Thompson, working collectively. Bad Quarto (my micropress) publishes the journal.

The call for issue #3 is posted. The deadline is February 18 (2019).

Taper #2 features 18 works by six a., Sebastian Bartlett, Kyle Booten, Angela Chang, Augusto Corvalan, Kavi Duvvoori, Esen Espinsa, Leonardo Flores, Judy Heflin, Chris Joseph, Vinicius Marquet, Stuart Moulthrop, Everest Pipkin, Mark Sample, and William Wu. Go take a look!

June 10, 2017

My @party Talk on Computer-Generated Books

from Post Position
by @ 12:46 pm

I just gave a talk at the local demoparty, @party. While I haven’t written out notes and it wasn’t recorded, here are the slides. The talk was “Book Productions: The Latest in Computer-Generated Literary Art,” and included some discussion of how computer-generated literary books related to demoscene productions.

April 21, 2017

Salon 256 on May 1

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by @ 3:48 pm

SALON 256 is a forum for presentation and discussion of very small creative computer programs. Such programs have featured in digital art and poetry, electronic literature, computer music, and the demoscene.

YOU are invited to present a tiny program of yours:

Monday May 1 . 5pm-7pm . MIT’s 14E-304

Presenters already confirmed:

  • Mike “Dr.Claw” Piantedosi
  • Angela Chang
  • Sofian Audry
  • Nick Montfort

Programs in an interpreted language are fine, as long as the code is 256 bytes or less; compiled programs with an executable file of 256b or less are fine, too.

February 24, 2017

Tiny Trope Tank Productions

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by @ 10:38 am

Recently, at the suggestion of our writer in residence, Milton Läufer, we in the Trope Tankt have been producing digital files for discussion at meetings. These productions, almost always computer programs but not constrained to be such, must be at most 256 bytes.

It’s been extremely productive in terms of thinking about digital media, platforms and programming languages, and how we approach creative projects — and even other projects — generally. Postdoctoral researcher Sofian Audry prompted us to discuss this some at the last meeting.

So far we have three sets of 256b files which have landed in this directory, organized by date and with file names that indicate who wrote what:

June 21, 2015

@Party 2015 Productions

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by @ 3:38 pm

I had five productions (one of them a collaboration) this time around at @Party, the Boston-area demoparty.

Browser demo: “More Tongue.” This was, well, not really a standard demo, even for a browser demo, that generates nonsense poems with compact code. Like everything at demoparties, it’s been released, but I’m going to work on a post-party version, so I’m leaving the party version out of this list.

Wild: “Shortcat.”

Shortcat is a very simple encoding scheme to make bytes (thus computer programs) into pleasing Unicode tweets, IMs, etc. #demoscene

Encoder: cat x.prg | perl -pe ‘binmode STDOUT,”:utf8″;tr/x00-xff/x{2500}-x{25ff}/;’ > x.txt #demoscene

February 27, 2015

This Issue is Full of the Demoscene

from Post Position
by @ 2:22 pm

It’s also in Polish, and should serve to inspire Anglophones! As my colleagues in Ubu’s homeland explain:

Ha!art 47 demoscene

“Textual Demoscene” by Piotr Marecki

from Post Position
by @ 8:21 am

A Trope Tank Technical Report (“Trope Report”) on the “Texual Demoscene” has just been posted. Here’s the abstract:

The demoscene is a mainly European subculture of computer
programmers, whose programs generate computer art in real time. The
aim of this report is to attempt a description of the textual
dimension of the demoscene. The report is the effect of efforts to
perform an ethnographic exploration of the Polish computer scene; it
quotes interviews with participants of demo parties, where text
plays a significant role: in demos, real-time texts, IF, mags or
digital adaptations. Media archeology focusing on the textual aspect
of the demoscene is important to understanding the beginnings of
digital literature and genres of digital-born texts.

July 31, 2014

New Report on Nanowatt & World Clock

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by @ 6:45 pm

The latest technical report (or “Trope Report”) to issue from the Trope Tank is TROPE-14-01, “New Novel Machines: Nanowatt and World Clock by Nick Montfort:

June 30, 2014

A Companion Disk for 10 PRINT

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by @ 7:43 pm

A C64 Running the 10 PRINT DiskMartin Schemitsch (a.k.a. Martinland) has compiled and released a disk to accompany our book 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10, one that’s full of BASIC and assembly programs. These include the programs in the book and the later, more compact versions of our demo thread. The disk was just released at Commodore-Treffen Graz $14, and of course the disk image is available for download. It’s a nice companion to the 10 PRINT book and a Commodore 64 emulator, although, as you can see, it also works perfectly well on a vintage Commodore 64.

June 14, 2014

Waves 3 Ways at @Party

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by @ 11:23 pm

codewiz and I (nom de nom) showed a wild demo at @party yesterday (June 14) at MIT.

It was “Waves 3 Ways (Topsy’s Revenge).” Indeed, there’s video.

Tesla coilThe concept is based on one-line C programs to generate music, the earliest of which were by viznut. I (nom de nom) wrote a C expression in this style to generate a waveform that could be output as sound but
also consisted of all printable ASCII characters. The source is about 1kb, without much effort at compression. And the sound, in addition to driving speakers, can be (and was) connected to a Tesla coil.

April 24, 2014

Bitcoin for your Warhol!

from Post Position
by @ 9:59 am

Thanks to Golan Levin’s “atypical, anti-disciplinary and inter-institutional” FRSCI lab, the CMU Computer Club, and ROM hacking bit-boy Cory Archangel, several instances of previously unknown visual artwork, done by Andy Warhol on the Amiga 1000 in 1985, have been recovered.

CA$H for your WARHOL sign

December 29, 2013

10 PRINT in 64 bytes of JavaScript

from Post Position
by @ 3:05 pm

From p01 comes a 64 byte JavaScript program to produce a random-seeming maze, as long as the person at the computer is willing to wiggle the mouse a bit. It’s on pouet.net, with comments, too.

p01's 64-byte THREAD.JS

December 15, 2013

No Code: Null Programs

from Post Position
by @ 2:15 pm

Just posted: TROPE-13-03 – No Code: Null Programs by Nick Montfort, in the Trope Report series (technical reports from my lab the Trope Tank at MIT).

To continue the productive discussion of uninscribed artworks in Craig Dworkin’s No Medium, this report discusses, in detail, those computer programs that have no code, and are thus empty or null. Several specific examples that have been offered in different contexts (the demoscene, obfuscated coding, a programming challenge, etc.) are analyzed. The concept of a null program is discussed with reference to null strings and files. This limit case of computing shows that both technical and cultural means of analysis are important to a complete understanding of programs – even in the unusual case that they lack code.

December 3, 2013

Video of Nanowatt Online

from Post Position
by @ 12:55 pm

A single-loading VIC-20 demo (3583 bytes) presented on November 30, 2013 at Récursion in Montréal. By Nick Montfort, Michael C. Martin, and Patsy Baudoin (nom de nom, mcmartin, baud 1). This video is of the demo running in the Trope Tank at MIT on December 3, 2013.

Tagged on YouTube as Commodore VIC-20, Samuel Beckett, Electronic Literature, Computer (Musical Instrument), and Demoscene. See also the fuller story about Nanowatt with links to executable code.

November 30, 2013


from Post Position
by @ 8:18 pm

At Récursion (the Montréal demoparty), we (Nick Montfort, Michael C. Martin, and Patsy Baudoin) released Nanowatt, a single-loading VIC-20 demo.

You can download it and run it using a VIC-20 emulator (or, of course, an actual VIC-20). I run it in VICE on my Ubuntu system by typing “xvic nw” from the directory that contains the “nw” file. If it’s more convenient, you can also download a d64 disk image with Nanowatt on it and load “nw” from there.

It produces 8 KB of English text quoted exactly from Samuel Beckett’s second novel, Watt.

November 28, 2013

I’m Packed for Récursion

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by @ 8:13 pm

(The demoparty this Saturday in Montréal.)


And my VIC-20 and C64.

Let’s roll.

June 16, 2012

Head Over to Overhead

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by @ 8:02 pm

I just saw an overhead projector demo, at a demo party, that simulated the Amiga boing ball demo using only transpaencies. And then another that, using pinwheels, simulated fire.

I regret that the overhead projector did not, in either case, produce the music.

June 7, 2012

Gamer vs. Scener, or, Scener Theory

from Post Position
by @ 11:41 am

I delivered this as the opening keynote at DiGRA Nordic 2012, today, June 7.

1. The World of the Scene

Welcome to the world of the scene, to the summer of 2012, to that Earth where the demoscene is pervasive. Computers are mainly part of our culture because of their brilliant ability to produce spectacles, computationally generated spectacles that are accompanied by music, all of which is produced from tiny pieces of code, mostly in assembly language, always in real time. The coin of the realm is the demoscene production, which includes graphics and chiptunes but is principally represented by demos and their smaller cousins, intros. The coin of the realm – although these are not exchanged commercially, but freely shared with all lovers of computation and art, worldwide.

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