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Pilgrimage Inc Interview - Pilgrimage Demo Party 2004
Added on: Sun Aug 29 2004

3dluvr: Please introduce yourselves.

Legalize: I'm Rich Thomson aka legalize / Polygony, President of Pilgrimage, Inc., a Utah non-profit corporation dedicated to the demoscene and primary organizer of the Pilgrimage demoparty.

RaD Man: Hi, I'm Christian Wirth aka RaD Man, the founder of the artgroup ACiD Productions.  I've since retired from running ACiD and am now the Director of Competitions at Pilgrimage 2004 and host of talk radio news show The ARTS.

3dluvr: For those readers that are not familiar, what is a Demo?

Legalize: A demo is a "demonstration" of your skills, be they musical, graphical, or programmatical.  A typical demo is like a short film with an associated musical score.

Pilgrimage 2003: Visitors

3dluvr: How long have you been in the Demo scene?

RaD Man: I've been actively participating in the underground art scene since the late 1980s, following the IBM PC demo scene intensely since 1990.

Legalize: I first heard about the demoscene from the panel discussion at SIGGRAPH 2002 in San Antonio, TX.  I then went to the BOF (Birds of a Feather) meeting for the demoscene later that day and met some of the panel members and watched demos.  After that I came home and decided I wanted to organize a demoparty in Salt Lake. The result was Pilgrimage 2003.

3dluvr: Tell me about the Pilgrimage.

Legalize: Pilgrimage is the only demoparty in North America -- it takes place in the heart of Salt Lake City, the birthplace of computer graphics. This year we will have an event that is more than twice as successful as last year's demoparty.

Pilgrimage 2003: Nullsleep Concert 3dluvr: How many people do u expect to attend?

Legalize: I think that the exposure of Pilgrimage 2003 and the word of mouth recommending it will increase our attendance dramatically in 2004. By exactly how many people is hard to say; last year we had a peak of 75 people come through the event, but there was no ticket fee. This year we have a ticket fee, but I expect a more significant turnout from across the scene since we proved last year that we could make a pure demoscene party happen (no gaming component). We can accommodate a peak of 300 visitors this year and are planning for a likely turnout of 150.

Pilgrimage 2003: Watching the Compos     Pilgrimage 2003: Demoshow

3dluvr: Tell me about the competitions, what will the prizes be like?

Legalize: I'll defer to the "Director" on that one!

RaD Man: At Pilgrimage this year, we have 9 official competitions, 6 of which fall under the category of digital arts; First, we have the staple of our party, the DEMO competition. We also host a combined music compo for trackers and the like, a textmode compo for the oldschool ANSI and ASCII artists, and a hirez graphics competition sponsored by deviantART.

A unique aspect of our party versus others is that we feature a fast-made "Blender Compo" which is a throwback to the early competitions held on IRC during the 90s. Upon arrival at the party, attendees are given a set of 3 randomly selected words and challenged to create a piece of art which best exemplifies those words within a very limited amount of time. This is the only competition where individual artists, musicians and coders can compete against each other directly.

Then we have the "Wildcard Compo" which is a liberal competition allowing anything from a short film, interactive game, or live performance.

Thanks to the partnerships we've built over the past year with various vendors and service providers, we now have over $14,000 USD in cash and prizes to award this year at Pilgrimage 2004. Prizes include hardware, software and cold hard cash. One of our platinum partners this year is deviantART who has contributed a substantial amount of cash prizes as well as 1-year and 3-month subscriptions. We've received hardware donations from Pacific Digital, Cobalt Flux, Red Octane, and ATI. Media and software licenses have also been donated from vendors such as ACiD Productions, Fusecon, Microsoft, Renoise and Serious Magic.

Pilgrimage 2003: Visitors     Pilgrimage 2003: Visitors

3dluvr: You both are very active in the art community. Computer artists aren't exceptionally well known for being social. What inspired you to start social events such as Pilgrimage? What has the overall consensus and feedback at such events been like?

Legalize: My inspiration has been three things: Project DELTA, SIGGRAPH and the pictures I saw of Assembly at SIGGRAPH 2002

Project DELTA was an education program at the University of Delaware where the programmers were all in one large "bullpen" style programming lab. There was a feeling of camaraderie there, I liked that. Most people think of SIGGRAPH as the premiere technical conference for computer graphics, but the great thing about SIGGRAPH is the confluence of technologists and artists with a common vocabulary. Some of the best art I've ever seen in my life was on exhibit at SIGGRAPH in the art gallery exhibit. When I saw the pictures of Assembly at SIGGRAPH 2002 I recognized the elements of both SIGGRAPH and Project DELTA.

As for the reaction to Pilgrimage itself, its been very positive! The prime example of that positive reaction is having RaD Man on board the staff this year. He has made a significant difference in helping me take Pilgrimage to the "next level". And with that, over to him...

Pilgrimage 2003: Seminar Speaker While I've attended other demoparties large and small in North America; NAID '96 (Quebec, Canada) and Spring Break '98 and '99 (California, USA); it has always been my dream since Assembly began to attend the single party that solidified the whole concept. 12 years later (this month) that dream was finally realized.

But, unfortunately, demoparties in North America are very far and few between. Aside from the two years NAID was held, nothing holds a candle to level at which the massive demoparties in Europe have reached; both 'commercialized' and 'underground' included.  Then I discovered Pilgrimage 2003. I was not only impressed with the high quality of the entries submitted at the event, but was rather inspired by a followup article written by Legalize on how to organize a demoparty. I joined the Pilgrimage team in an effort to help turn things around for the better in North America.

Demoparties are about more than just the competitions and prizes. They are an opportunity of a lifetime to network with likeminded individuals from around the world, a chance to meet new friends and rub shoulders with the demoscene digerati. And who knows, you may just make scene history...

3dluvr: You mention that Salt Lake City is the birthplace of modern computer graphics, could you elaborate please?

Legalize: It grew out of the University of Utah Computer Science Department in the 60s and 70s. If you look back to the first important paper about computer graphics, its Ivan Sutherland's "Sketchpad" paper. This was in 1963, I think, at MIT. Ivan came to the University of Utah to start up a program in computer graphics with David Evans, the department chair. Ivan had gotten his PhD from MIT and joined Utah as one of the early faculty members.

Pilgrimage 2003: Image of the Great Salt Lake Many of the effects you see in traditional demos; Gouraud shading, Phong shading, "the teapot" all originate out of Salt Lake City, or more accurately the Science Department of the University of Utah. There wasn't much going on in graphics yet, so there was plenty of "low hanging fruit" for the graduate students like Jim Blinn, Henri Gouraud, Bui-Tuong Phong, etc., to get their PhDs in all the important groundwork of computer graphics. Lots of things that are commonplace today were invented in the 60s and 70s at Utah.

3dluvr: Christian, tell us about your radio show.

RaD Man: I host a radio talk show called The ARTS, shorthand for The Artscene Radio Talk Show. Simply put, we are focused on the scene; our focus is our demographic. We discuss topics of interest to artists, coders and musicans and feature interviews with guests from all over the world. I love producing each new episode; it is an exciting new medium for sceners to communicate and get their message across. The ARTS show archives, including MP3 redistributables, notes and transcripts are available at http://www.acid.org/radio/.

3dluvr: Christian, you've been around for a while, how has the underground art scene changed over the past 14 years?

Pilgrimage 2003: Prize Raffle RaD Man: To quote Adok/Hugi, "Until the mid-nineties Demos were indeed focused on technology. What counted was whether your 3d engine worked faster than other peoples, and whether you brought new effects at a decent frame rate, rather than how they looked or what message they carried."

The computer underground art scene has really moved more towards artistic expression than a demonstration of optimization skills.

3dluvr: In conclusion, is there anything that you would like to say to the reader?

Legalize: Come out to Pilgrimage 2004!

RaD Man: Indeed. Make the Pilgrimage!

Pilgrimage 2004

September 17-18, 2004
Friday: Noon-Midnight
Saturday: 6am-Midnight

Holiday Inn
Salt Lake City Downtown
Brighton & Solitude Meeting Rooms

$20 on or before August 14th, 2004
$30 after August 14th, 2004

Visit The Pilgrimage Website for more details.

Pilgrimage 2003: Legalize     Pilgrimage 2003: Rest Stop Sculpture     Pilgrimage 2003: Hanging Out

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