Here it is, my fifth write-up of the past decade, and how did I ever avoid writing up this topic in the first place? Either its initial two write-up slots had both been stunk up by well-meaning friends, or I was making a deliberate effort to distance myself from the sensitive subject, to let sleeping dragon-dogs lie without being awakened. Maybe re-opening the file hurt too much. Surely I could leave well enough alone?
OK, it turns out I can't, in that case even less so than in this one. Where to begin? OK, this matter is pretty comprehensively sewn up over at our Distinguished Compe(dia)tition and Demozoo, but I can give you a brief recap:
Immediately following the collapse of iMPERiAL in the summer of 1994, Mistigris began as an attempt to maintain a going concern around the cachement area of area code 604 in the underground computer artscene, primarily conducted on BBSes (dialup bulletin board services such as our WHQs The Screaming Tomato and, later, The Jade Monkey) and on the IRC (EFNet #mist represent!). Or, otherwise put: feckless teenagers on gutless MS-DOS computers trying to arrange blocks on a screen to positive aesthetic effect.
In the artscene, a cousin to the demoscene, the focus was on comics- , manga- and graffiti-inspired visual art in the textmode mediums of ANSI and ASCII, with minor representation of vector graphics in the RIPscrip format and "high resolution" visuals that could be pixel art or raytracing. Tracked computer music was also part of this milieu, and once in a while you would find groups releasing "lit" (short for literature, typically rhyming poems glorifying the inane names of warez BBSes.) Programs were also in effect, really putting the "computer" in "computer art", from multimedia displays to BBS door programs to artscene applications and utilities.
Mistigris featured representation from all of these computer art forms, but due to what we shall gloss over as "circumstances", maintained an extraordinary focus on computer music and lit ("coincidentally" both areas where I made most of my creative contributions), making it a perennial outsider in a community that was already a wisp of a niche. And I was acclamated as its chief functionary, an outsider administrator for an outsider organization.
Over the next four years, the group enjoyed many releases, including: ~32 "artpacks", 4 specialty music disks and 14 issues of our electronic magazine Kithe. Due to further "circumstances" (elaborated upon at great length in infofiles), it wrapped up in the summer of 1998, caught in the transition from a textmode CLI BBS context to a GUI high-speed Internet one (with one world-straddling artpack-in-progress devised as a website full of ASCII art left in limbo for 17 years to testify to the problematic nature of the transition.)
That just about sets the stage. Mist crashes and burns in late 1998, then I find my way to everything.blockstackers.com, to a net.art party just warming up. And I get drunk on the new possibilities, high on the playful exploring and experimenting of all the early adopters around me here, and I think to myself, "Gee whiz, it's too bad I'm not releasing artpacks anymore, because this crew would present both a great pool of contributors and a fascinated audience." Then my rise and fall here happens, with about a congruent lifespan to my time in the artscene, and I move along to the Living Closet and running an art gallery and hosting an open stage series and forming a band and programming and hosting a radio program, and finally my creative projects are enjoying some stability and longevity, but always I'm thinking: "Huh, if I was still releasing artpacks, I would definitely include that."
As we plunged deeper into the new millennium some scant handful of my former colleagues suffered some pangs of nostalgia and, defying all reason, began drawing and releasing ANSI art again -- the best ever made, their youthful enthusiasm trumped by life experience, sophisticated design sensibility, and ... taste. Lacking the ecosystem that brought around the artgroup politics situation, they all gathered together under one common, awesome umbrella of Blocktronics, an all-star dream team parade of textmode eye candy, and I reflected to myself: "Guess I'm not the only one who misses those days! Sure looks like they're having fun!"
Through several computer upgrades I'd hung on to a trove of unreleased computer art in the event that I might someday stumble into a time machine and finally get around to releasing it in 1998 when it might make some goddamn sense in-context. For the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Mistigris' first release in 1994, I began looking up group alumni to help share in the nostalgia and enjoy looking back on those creative kids that we were. But much to my surprise, they began creating new works of computer art and submitting them to me! Unlike many teenage experiences revisited, it felt good. "Let's do it again next year," I said, "but this time, I'm going to go to all of the places I haunted between then and now, revisit all the folks who I said 'Gosh, I'd like to put your work in an artpack' about, and ... put their work in an artpack."
So despite the supreme irrelevance of myself being here in 2015 (and to some extent, the supreme irrelevance of here being here in 2015), I have come forth to share with you my call for submissions for an artpack to be released in late October 2015 -- there's a month left on the clock. (Now all I require is that time machine again so I can actually reach the people who once were here who made me feel that way about this place.)
EDITED TO ADD (NOV 2015): Well, the release came out yesterday, and though I didn't land any contributions by saying my piece here, it does contain a couple of pieces from historic noders -- a tessellating Escherian infinity scarf & pattern from ideath and roguepoet's 2009 musical setting of my recitation of ereneta's found poem "we", for the NodeSlam podcast. (It also contains a great deal more, weighing in at over 200 megabytes, including textmode art in traditional (ANSI, ASCII) and nontraditional (PETSCII, Shift JIS, typewriter art) styles, paintings, photographs, digital video, sculpture, and over an hour and a half of music.) If you're interested, you can get an overview-at-a-glance from our promotional video, you can peruse many of the pack's contents from your web browser, and if you want it all, you can download the mega artpack locally for complete command over its many files -- over 100 works from over 50 contributors!
EDIT AMENDED (APR 2016) TO REFLECT: Yes, we are doing it again: the call for submissions for an October 2016 artpack is up.
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