MIST1015 Infofile by Cthulu, Nail
MIST1015 Infofile by Cthulu, Nail
After some sixteen years away from it, I returned to Mistigris like a
man returning to an closed childhood campsite off an old logging road --
outhouses caved in, hiking trails overgrown, firepits choked with broken glass
from bottles of beer made by long-bankrupt companies. But whats this -- a
glimmer from behind the bushes... parting the boughs we find a mossy old ATV
in a hollow, birds nest woven into the handlebars, mushrooms growing out of
the seat cushion foam. But if this gauge is correct it still has half a tank
of gas and -- woah, the mother starts!
The half-tank took us far: it turns out Id been sitting on an enormous
hoarded cache of unreleased and since-lost digital artwork from the last
century, and after establishing through social media that there in fact did
exist an audience for it, I mounted that demon horse Nostalgia on a joyride
spree of art distribution that very likely made for Mistigris most active
year of all time, a decade and a half after it died:
Oct 31 2014 - MIST1014 20th anniversary artpack
Nov 09 2014 - Mistic re-release
Nov 30 2014 - Living Closet best-of-Mistigris artdisk re-release
Dec 17 2015 - The Bells of Yule music disk re-release
Mar 16 2015 - BLNDR48-60 Blender catch-up
Apr 01 2015 - April Fools pack
Apr 14 2015 - Blender 2015
May 01 2015 - MIST3YRC re-release
May 09 2015 - Radiance music disk re-release
May 10 2015 - EuphoniX music collection re-release
May 11 2015 - 604 Music Disk re-release
May 13 2015 - Immortal Syndicate collection re-release
May 15 2015 - Happy Fetus Records collection re-release
Jun 13 2015 - M-9808, Mistigris lost pack, in progress when we died
Oct 06 2015 - MIST2000
Oct 07 2015 - Scarecrow Poetics re-released
Oct 21 2015 - Corroded music disk re-release
Oct 30 2015 - which brings us to MIST1015, and the present.
18 releases! Plus we threw a lot of light including rediscovering a
bunch of our own material! on the old Sonic Equinox collections, hiding in
plain sight over at Hornet. But the joyride is done now, the ATV gently
rolling to a halt after coasting on fumes down a series of sick jumps on
gnarly hills -- thats all ancient history now. Before I released it all, it
was just a digital clutter ghost in a corner of my hard drive haunting me from
upgrade to upgrade. Now, curated and preserved, it takes its proper place as
history, and the spectres of wasted youth are laid to rest.
So, here we are. So much I could say! Without counting infofiles or
private discussion, Ive written over 28 thousand words on the subject over
the past year. That adds up to a lot of haiku! But Ill be brief, because
-- accustomed to the luxury of taking years to gather my thoughts on artpack
matters -- I have run out of time. Every time Ive sat down at the keyboard
this year to share computer art, Ive had to try to sum up a sprawling expanse
of time -- 15 to 20 years, sometimes more -- in order to establish any kind of
context to explain what I was sharing with the world and precisely why it
looks so very ... historical. I say try, as I have enjoyed limited
success with the objective of summation. Now I just have one big last heap
o art to explain, all of it -- if not necessarily hot off the presses, at
least new-to-me and new-to-you.
The artpacks many faces can be explained by its representing the
culmination of a few waves of solicitation: initially, I figured that Id
echo my method from last years 20th anniversary, and round up submissions
from my rediscovered colleagues from the Mistigris crew circa 1994-1998
again! But it was looking as though many of them may have had only one last
artpack huzzah left in them, and given it up last October, leaving them
hollow and artless. Sorry, but sometimes the truth hurts! But having
extended myself thus far, I wasnt going to cancel my plans and disappoint
those few who had expressed interest -- I would just have to widen the net.
Here I do need to pause for a moment and thank those original Mistigris
members with whom I was working over 20 years ago who represented somehow in
this collection: Crowkeeper, Etana, Flyingfish, Happyfish, Ice Cream Emperor,
Maeve Wolf, Otnoo Ishphoo, Whazzit, and the tireless Melodia without whom this
collection might not have been possible.
So Phase B involved a systematic attempt to get the word out to other
oldschool computer art fellow travelers from the artscene and demoscene, and
other parallel communities of retro-tech creative types. There were some
expressions of interest, but this approach took a long time to translate into
actual submissions rolling in... so long that I had already progressed through
to Phase C: extending the call for submissions to members of each of the
numerous other creative communities Id been involved with since Mist wrapped
in 1998, which included in turn you can stand up as you are called:
* performance poets intoning their verses in smokey bar backrooms,
* culture-jamming bicycle activists,
* noders at a turn-of-the-century proto-Wikipedia,
* East Vans most varied variety show series,
* founding a political party,
* running an art gallery by consensus with a collective of 20 artists,
* enthusiasts of homebrew text adventures,
* that old anarchist bookstore,
* hitting up all the open mics promoting my open stage series,
* programming and operating several shows on community radio,
* traveling the rural West in a penniless political country band,
* establishing an annual festival for punk accordion music,
and * documenting historical video games.
among others.
Not all avenues ultimately yielded submissions to this collection on
the plus side, more artscene outsiders will be interested in seeing what I
came up with, but it stands testament to my unsinkable recruiting drive that
I managed to drum up submissions to this once-thought-troubled artpack from
over 50 individuals from every walk on the creative spectrum. Have I built
Mistigris back into a viable organization with thriving departments? Not
exactly, but I was able to shake down a lifetime of friends and acquaintances
for a respectable showing here, at least once. Maybe some of them will be
interested in the work of their packmates they discover here and seek to
collaborate, and maybe some of them will be intrigued by our long and boring
history and borderline fetishistic traditional aesthetic. Maybe this wont
be the last Mistigris production, maybe it will be -- or maybe some of us will
discover or remember that we enjoy working together, and will angle to find
some way to continue doing so on another, non-artpack project.
So, in some vague, hand-wavey way, that covers the past and the future
-- but what about the present? What can I tell you about the contents of this
artpack? In a nutshell -- it is vast, it contains multitudes.
On the one hand, it contains art actively striving to reproduce the
styles, approaches, and subjects pressed into service by the computer artists
of the 1990s. too and JMDs submissions take it one step further and are
actually lost works from the early 1990s and late 1980s, wholly embodying
that zeitgeist by virtue of not being historical re-enactment, but actual
history! They are echoed by Andreas Jansson firing open an Amiga emulator and
seeing what he could do. There is textmode art -- not merely the artscene
staple of ANSI including Happyfishs revived WIP that competed at the NVScene
demoparty earlier this year, pieces from Nails decade in the wilderness, and
VileRs entire artscene-unknown body of work!, but also Shift JIS from Kalcha,
PETSCII arranged on the Commodore 64s character set by Raquel Meyers, a titan
of that scene, teletext by the undisputed master of that niche artform,
Illarterite, and even the great forebearer of them all, typewriter art pecked
out by Lord Nikon! Because while were going oldschool, why not be serious
about it?
Its a little funny citing serious oldschoolness in reference to
someone whose handle necessarily derives from the 1995 movie Hackers. 8
And in the for various reasons, this would have been impossible to
include in an artpack in the 90s department, we also include some* digital
video! In keeping with our roots, much of it features textmode imagery,
including a demo of a fabulous multi-layer parallax scrolling engine that only
runs through a BBS -- also included as an ANSImation for those able to enjoy
it so natively. There is also Otiums panoramic photo spread of the retrotech
lifestyle, and on board you will also find some varied animated .GIFs,
demonstrating such diverse styles as a virtuous application of pixel art
techniques, implementation of a henna hand design, modelling of a unique 3D
object for use in Second Life, and the full skinning of a character model in
real 3D for first life 8
* where by include some we mean include redirecting web links to
externally-hosted 8
And then there is the music, over an hour and a half of our longstanding
dark horse ace in the hole. One song uses a single sample, another is fully
performed on real instruments, and there is everything in between. Really, the
musical end is so substantial, everything besides could just be an
But NO! none of it is an afterthought! It is all welcomed and
cherished and evaluated as belonging here, regardless of whether it would
have been a good fit for an artpack in 1995. We contain much that would
never have been seen in the classic period its loss!: real-life art forms
including photography, painting I fully expect there will be some
discussion, perhaps even debate, about Alexander Bells use of silkscreened
machine-generated ASCII art in his oil paintings, sculpture and even a
textile work -- which as any student of history will rapidly assent, is the
artform with perhaps the most computing science precedents.
And we have submissions that also flirt with the stranger, more
conceptual side of things: a visualization of a memory dump after an
application crashes an illustrated poem in the pantoum form, presented with
musical accompaniment that ALSO follows the constrained strictures of that
style of poem a unique objet dmusique whose appearance and price is
suggested but whose sound remains purely in the imagination of the dreamer.
And also, this being Mistigris, there is some lit. Yknow, poetry and
prose, that good stuff. If you enjoy the excerpt of Everyone In Silico, a
very rare depiction of a technological future taking place at our mile zero,
then you can choose your own price for an etext of the full novel!
Despite weeks of preparations, Im going a little bit crazy putting
together and packaging the artpack, having been awake for nearly 24 hours
continuously. So we are perhaps best served by my invoking my feverish
futurist manifesto in this past Aprils Fools Pack. After pages of nonsense
advocating for the misuse and abuse of computers so as to breed a tougher
computer user, I had to skip to the end as I found myself accidentally coming
to a totally unfunny point culminating in its conclusion:
that our electronic technology was initially devised for military pursuits,
since computers were rooms full of women using slide rules to calculate
artillery strikes, and the IBM men in their three-piece suits knew of several
unorthodox applications for a counting machine that a decade of our best
university students pored over mainframes engaging curious optimization
puzzles, as though they believed that the army-sponsored contests for the
best crop dusting routines werent in fact employed to more efficiently
disperse napalm and Agent Orange among civilian populations.
This bloody original sin truth behind computers and the InterNet compel us
toward a single stark conclusion: that the most responsible thing to do with
the technology is to misuse it, to misallocate the resources from their
intended function, with art the worlds greatest misallocation of resources
every CPU cycle not invested into setting children on fire is worthwhile.
Computer art hence isnt just a novelty or a curio, but rather the only moral
use of this equipment, ideally tying it up indefinitely for indulgent and
frivolous pursuits.
... which brings me around, in a perhaps more justifiable way, to my initial
conclusion, that:
The first application for any new technology is to brutalize human flesh and
crush the spirit the second is to draw pictures of naked ladies. We only
win if the latter outweighs the former by a significant margin.
So thank you, CatBones!
Thanks for the 21 years!
- Cthulu
Mistigris founder
October 31, 2015