vertexlist blog is an online extension of vertexList gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The content is a collective effort of artists and curators working with vertexList. (

Monday, December 04, 2006

Notes on the Blip Festival

Blip audience, day 1

One more time I feel so happy to live in New York.
Blip Festival no doubt will become a part of our cultural landscape. The vibe was fantastic: geek people came from all over the world to meet and celebrate the dawn of their era. All those born in the 70ies (+ - a couple of years), the Atari/Spectrum/ Commodore generation, more familiar with LSDj than LSD, congregated at the LMCC location right in the middle of the evil capitalist headquarters.


Blip made me realize that this scene is not going away for a while. And it is not even close to reaching its peak yet: give it a couple of years. There is virtually nothing else out there, both in the music and the art world that comes any close to the vitality, potential and scope of the pixelated gang.

Bud Melvin

The phenomenon of chiptunes is and will remain totally meta-stylistic. That means that the common denominator is not the type of music (as rock, pop, punk, trance etc) but the platform of performance and ideology. This kind of puts chiptunes into conceptual sound art category, because the key here is not aesthetics but the realm of the militant embrace of technology.
The idea of “militant embrace” means that you live with technology and express yourself through it, but you are not SCARED of it. You know when the time comes to open up the black box and make it do what you want it to do. The “black box” I mean metaphorically and it could be any technological commodity , both hardware and software, served you by the markets. You can take it and enjoy it the way you were targeted or you can “fuck with it”. We choose to fuck with it because that is the only thing left in the ocean of corporate property left for people to feel somewhat empowered and in control of their lives.

Screening of "8 BIT"

This is the fundamental link between everything I put into the“8 BIT” documentary, witnessed in the Blip, and did with my own artwork. I believe also that this “militant embrace” may be the most significant cultural contribution of our generation.

Screening of The Mario Movie by Cory Arcangel and Paper Rad

I see the music and art as very closely related in their “meta” character, dwelling not only in the medium used, but the attitude toward it. Both the medium and attitude are natural, historical products of our development as a society, and that is specifically what makes this kind of art so appealing and powerful …


So if I was to break down what I see as distinguishing features of this “8 BIT” generation of artists, the list would look something like this:
- subversion of corporate technology and marketing strategies (use it the way it wasn't intended)
- lack of fear or respect for technology (don't be afraid to break it!)
- attraction to obsolete (cheap crap from the second hand store rules!)
- games/nonlinear narratives as a dominant medium of reference (RIVER RIDE!)
- internet as a dominant medium of communication (this one is kinda self explanatory)
- open source and immediate access to knowledge (wikipedia vs fox news)
- underlying quest for purity and simplicity (which is a reaction to 20 years of POMO)
- mostly done by skinny white guys and east-Asian girls (this one is meant to be funny; yet not untrue : )


So this post became a bit more serious than I initially planned.
Enough of the home brewed theory… I wish Treewave was there!
I was mostly going to say that Bit Shifter (who also was a co-organizer) kicked ass so hard that I may have some permanent ear-drum damage and my chakras are all wide open. He also did a great job as a bartender.

Bit Shifter behind the bar

The pleasant surprises (folks I’ve never seen in person) were GOTO 80, Coova, Herbert Weixelbaum, Random and Bud Melvin.

Herbert Weixelbaum

Sadly I missed the last day, because of the preparations for the forthcoming 3rd Anniversary of vertexList benefit... Blip Festival and 8 Bit Peoples: THANK YOU!

Nullsleep (the man behind 8 Bit Peoples, & "Blip" co-organizer)


At 2:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marcin -- you were every bit a part of this, both in your and Justin's participation in the 8 Bit screening, and also by having been a long-standing supporter, instigator, organizer, and focal point for this stuff. Thanks for the coverage, thanks for presenting the film, and thanks for being a tireless source of encouragement.


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