Jason Scott and RaD Man
By Polaris / Northern Dragons
Blockparty 2007 is the newest North American Demoparty. The event will be held in Cleveland, Ohio in association with the existing event Notacon 4. The event has two organizers Jason Scott and Christian Wirth. These gentleman are kind of enough to spend some time days before the party schedule to complete this interview about this unique Demoparty.
What groups and handles do you guy participate in?
RaD Man / ACiD.
Jason Scott / Textfiles.com
What is your demoscene history and how did you get involved in it? When did you start and how long have you been involved in the demoscene?
RaD Man: "That all depends on how you look at it. My interest in the demoscene piqued in the early 1990s after seeing awe-inspiring demos like Crystal Dream and Second Reality. We formed a coding division within ACiD which produced a number of modest DOS intros, but the focus eventually shifted over to our flagship ANSI editing and viewing products. Since that time I've hosted an all-encompassing scene radio talk show called The ARTS, and have participated in a number of demoparties to various degrees."
Jason Scott: "For my own part, I first found demos on bulletin board systems in 1988 and fell in love immediately. While I never had the programming skills to make my own, I downloaded many of them over the years and have followed the progress of the various scenes very closely, even having my own archive (artscene.textfiles.com) loaded with artifacts of demo and art scenes. The closest I ever got to being a contributor was uploading a couple MODs to the old Hornet Archive."
Which parties have you attended & particularly enjoyed?
RaD Man: "NAID 1996; Spring Break 1998, 1999; Assembly 2004; Pilgrimage 2004, 2005. I've enjoyed them all!"
Jason Scott: "Just NAID 1996 and Pilgrimage 2004. I wish I'd gone to more!"
Have you organized other parties? How did they inspire you to start Blockparty?
RaD Man: "I took part in Pilgrimage 2004 as one of three core organizers, working with Acius and Legalize.
There is enormous potential for the American demoscene, and my experience with the Salt Lake City party inspired me to continue to see that realized, and soon after I began discussing the idea of a new party, Blockparty, with Jason Scott."
Jason Scott: "I have never organized a demoparty before, but I've played a part in other convention organizing and launched a lot of projects involving assembling people. Whether that translates well to running a demoparty, we'll have to see. It was definitely the Salt Lake City party that got me thinking of if it could be done closer to home."
How do you know your co-organizer?
RaD Man: "Jason and I have known each other since 2002. We first met while he was filming for his first documentary film, BBS Documentary. One of the eight chapters of his film was based on the ANSI art scene which I was heavily involved in for many years, so I began helping him establish contacts with key people who needed to be interviewed for that portion of the documentary, and helping out with other areas of production where I could."
Jason Scott: "Fast friends indeed. A week has not gone by in years that we haven't spent some time talking on the phone. We've tried a couple projects together, and this is the newest one."
When you are not organizing demo parties what do you like to do?
RaD Man: "What could be better than organizing demo parties?"
Jason Scott: "Being at them, I'll bet."
What are your future plans?
Jason Scott: "I'm continuing my work of collecting computer history and doing documentaries."
RaD Man: "I'm contemplating a new line of premium vodka beverages from ACiD, with Paris Hilton as the spokes model, but until then I am continuing to develop my archives, such as Dark Domain 2, and import a number of demoscene-related books and DVDs for North American distribution."
Where did the idea of Blockparty come from?
Jason Scott: "I was definitely directly inspired by NAID's approach to demoparties, and I wanted that same feel of wonder I had when I drove 300 miles with two days notice to Montreal. There had to be something cool when I got there. So that was the idea behind Blockparty on my side."
Why call the event Blockparty?
RaD Man: "The name holds multiple meanings. Merriam-Webster defines a 'block party' as a community organized festival of sorts. In computer terms, blocks can represent a form of data storage, a type of ASCII art, a section of code,and so on. It gave us a lot of places we could play off the name, depending on which aspect we wanted to talk about."
What has been the greatest organizing challenge so far?
Jason Scott: "The hardest bit is always getting the word out to people. While there are some absolutely excellent scene resources, they're not on the radar of people within easy travel distance of the party. Another is that the U.S. just hasn't had many of these, so they're hard to explain, because basically Hacking Conferences have taken over that space around here."
What do you think will be the greatest organizing challenge yet to come?
Jason Scott: "The ones after this one, when we'll be no doubt trying to take it to the "next level" each and every time."
RaD Man: "Indeed, raising the bar for the following party will be our next challenge."
What challenges are unique to having a demoparty in the U.S. compared to Europe?
Jason Scott: "It is basically impossible to get permission to have a site where people sleep over in conference rooms or open spaces. It can be done but you have to do amazing tricks and often pull favors. The massive geography of the U.S. is also involved; people can't just up and take the train somewhere.
Another problem is that there's never been the years of building up the demoscene here like in Europe; as a result people see the dozens held now and go 'you'll never catch up'... like it's a race or something. But, I think we've found ways around this as best we can."
RaD Man: "Challenges tend to present unique opportunities. For many attendees, this will be their first demoparty experience, and will shape the way they look at them for years to come. Whether the party is held in a sports arena, a hotel, or a gymnasium somewhere is rather inconsequential to me... this is all about unifying a wide range of talented artists, coders, musicians and enthusiasts under one roof, and that's what we're doing."
What would you advise people thinking of organizing their own parties?
Jason Scott: "Announce early and often!"
RaD Man: "Communication is cardinal to the success of any demoparty."
What is Notacon and how does it relate to Blockparty?
RaD Man: "Notacon is an art and technology conference going into its fourth year. We wanted to co-op Blockparty with another event for our inaugural year, and we agreed that the demoparty concept dovetailed perfectly with Notacon, and felt the demographics were more in sync than say that of a LAN party."
Do you have sponsors? How has it been working with them? Who are your sponsors?
RaD Man: "All of our sponsors have been absolutely terrific. Meetro (www.meetro.com) and Webfoot (www.webfootgames.com) have been very generous in their support of the demo competitions, and Notacon has provided much in the way of facilities and infrastructure. Additional prize sponsors include ACiD, BBS Documentary, Centon Electronics, Cult of the Dead Cow, deviantART, Effector13, FREAXBOOK.COM, Mindcandy, and Renoise.
All told, we're going to have a larger amount of prizes than most inagural demoparties will, and we hope to keep wowing people with what gets handed out. It doesn't make the difference for people who are doing quality art for the good of it, but it does reward those folks properly."
What kind of Audience do you expect to see at Blockparty? What groups to expect to attend and be represented?
RaD Man: "Projected attendance this year is 200-300, with a maximum attendance of 550 people (fire code regulations). Groups represented which have confirmed thus far include 8-bit peoples, ACiD, Alpha Conspiracy, BLERX, Chemical Reaction (CRO), Hornet, K/DC5, pHluid, Northern Dragons, and XPLSV."
Jason Scott: "A lot of these people have never been involved in anything like a Demo party. Some see that as a disadvantage... we don't. We see it as a way to recruit a mass of possible new blood in, to get other outlooks. If this means the U.S. demoscene will have a certain "style", then hooray!"
The Blockparty invite was released at Numerica this year. The organizers called it "the re-birth" of the North American demoscene. How do you feel about that comment and what do you expect for thefuture of the North American demoscene?
Jason Scott: "Better to be the Rebirth than the Afterbirth!"
RaD Man: "True, so true."
What kind of feedback have you had about founding Blockparty?
Jason Scott: "We've had a lot of excitement at trying to mount this event, as well as people from other lands who wish they could travel to the U.S. to be at this party; a very nice reversal of roles."
What is your dream party like?
Jason Scott: "Breakpoint appears to have a lot of the traits it would be neat to have at a North American demoparty."
What are your future plans for Blockparty?
Jason Scott: "The plans are to run Blockparty for five years and then see what happens. It's the only way to increase the quality; to know that there'll be a party to show elsewhere."
RaD Man: "We look forward to seeing you all next year at Blockparty 2008!"
RaD Man and Jason Scott: "Thanks for having us!"
Polaris / Northern Dragons