Dialogos 2001 report
Again it was a German party which we visited, and this party was another bad bitch - it didn't suck at all. It took ten hours by train to reach Jena, it was a rather pleasant jouney as international trains are very comfortable. However, the conductor woke us up every two hours to check our tickets. By the way, when I say we I mean Strepto of Astral, Vickey of Greenroom and me, Tomcat of Greenroom. We didn't have any interesting company on the train, except for a homeless woman from Wien (Vienna), who wanted to ask 20 Schillings from us, and a funny old man, who visited our cabin in the middle of the night, and replied to my question of "na, was ist los?" with "tak-tak-tak-tak!"
Jena is a cute little German town, with only some 100,000 inhabitants, but still it is a very advanced city. It has its own university, and of course the very famous Jena Glaswerke, the glass factory and optical works founded by Carl Zeiss. We had been kicked off from the train at the Jena-Paradies railway station at 04:45 AM, quite early in the morning, I really mean kicked, because the conductor was urging us rather unpolitely. ("Los, los, schnella'!") So, we were standing at the edge of a sleeping Ossi city, hoping to find our way to the partyplace, the so-called "Holzmarktpassage", while half sleeping.
The Holzmarktpassage was fortunately very close to the railway station, it only was a short walk away. It was a small shopping mall, but it was closed that early. Not having any better to do, we travelled to the centre of the town, finding that the Germans still haven't invented the thing called a "bench". (For Any Germans Reading: A Bench is an item of outdoor furniture, made of wood. Tired pedestrians use these to sit down. It's quite common to place such "benches" on the streets in many countries.)
Time was passing slowly, we almost fell asleep on the ground unconciscous, but somehow managed to keep staying awake until the Holzmarktpassage opened. It was relatively easy to find the party hall inside the building, which was an empty store, still closed. So we put our baggages and computers down, and had a little breakfast on the first floor, in a nice cafeteria. Meanwhile some guys passed by, I was trying to remember if I knew them or not, and they seemed to have the same problems with my face, finally it came to light that they were Vantage members (the editors of Pain diskmag from Switzerland.)
Since we were still half-asleep, we decided not to wait for the partyplace to be opened. We built our tent in the middle of the shopping mall and wondered if the security would kill us or not. Have you ever camped next to the cashier desk of a cinema? It's great. No one killed us, only some cleaner hag came to ask if we were from Romania. Finally the party opened its gates, and we were among the first to enter. Here comes the first big thanks to the organizers for letting us in for a lowered price, understanding that the trip to Jena instead of Dresden, where the party was originally supposed to be held, cost us a lot more. Also, thanks to everyone who invited us for drinks!
Strepto immediately jumped into coding and aimed to finish our realtime raytracing intro for the compos. He was not the only one as several other party faces were also busy, for example Farbrausch and Black Maiden. Not many visitors have arrived yet, so we decided to take another walk in the city to see what it looked like in daylight. It is still a neat, clean, peaceful German town. In another shopping mall, called Goethe-Gallerie, there was a small exhibition of the local university, displaying some hi-tech stuff, varying from engraving lasers to superconductors and protein synthesizers. I've never seen a working superconductor before, except on TV, so it was quite interesting. A guy was constantly pouring liquid nitrogene on the device to keep it cold. How come no one tried to touch the cold cryogene channel. I remember a Hungarian exhibition where there was some dry ice (frozen, rigid carbon dioxide) displayed, but it had to be removed after the tenth moron pushed his finger in it. So this was a real superconductor, floating, where one could even try to step on it to see that it even sustained a man's weight.
Back at the partyplace there wasn't many people around, but we heard news that some more would soon arrive and then went back to sleep again. Strepto kept poking the keys, we just wondered how long he could keep doing that. Waking up a few hours later, I figured that it was already my birthday, the third of November! And the birthday of some more sceners? :) By the way, did you know that from among 25 people it's very likely that two to have their birthdays on the same day? Whatever. The rumors about more visitors arriving was true as all the members from Haujobb arrived, bringing a nice demo they said was a break from the "traditional" Haujobb style. I had a nice chat to several people, including XXX and Melwyn, as we talked about scene history. Then I designed a new cover for the Wildmag Crew as part of their diskmag archive CD. Also, they purchased some Ace demo collection CDs from Crest. The Hugi crew was also present, namely Adok, in the company of Alex of [d]vision, Bauchi and Paralax of Speckdrumm. All together, there were visitors from around three or four different countries, as Melwyn was from Finland, Adok and his friends were from Austria and the Pain editors were Swiss. The party feeling was nice, as usually at small parties there is a nice bar in the hall, with cozy couches. However, the couch collapsed as soon as I dropped my butt in it. But the remnants were still comfortable. :) There can be no complaints about the Holzmarktpassage as a partyplace at all, as there were numerous great features, for example a cafeteria, Chinese restaurant, pizzeria, nearly everything. I haven't ever seen a party with such great catering, although it was my 35th one so far!
After this, we slept a bit more except for Strepto as he still didn't need my modelling skills for the intro. I was woken up by the loudspeaker, announcing the raytrace compo. All the competitions were held in a cinema, which was just perfect! However, this cannot be said about the raytrace entries. I wonder where some of the untalented lamers come from? The CD cover for Wildmag which I quickly hacked together on Strepto's laptop could have easily beaten the entire competition, and this also stands for the visual design contest. Dear beginners, may I remind you that creating a dozen of spheres, and applying a state of the art renderer filter will not make you artists, it's not about collecting plugins only. Also, some text on a photo will not entertain anyone. But there was the pixel competition to relieve my blood pressure. Unsuprisingly, it was Acryl and Critikill who won the contest, as well as a cute young lady, Fashion, who was surprisingly able to penetrate the hegemony of the two German pixel-demigods, and took the second place. There still were some joke entries, but around five of the entries can be considered true eye candy.
The wild compo also took place, in which there are two entries worthy of mention, the winning "Vegetable Wars" by Haujobb is a nice hand-animated movie. The second place, "Stop Going Down" by Park Studios and Kolor is a very nice demo-style party intro, similar to what we usually have at Hungarian parties, but in quite a different style. (Perhaps because usually I create all Hungarian party intros? :))
Not much happened at 15:00 when they started the MP3 compo. Unfortunately, as there were so many entries, not many people listened to all of them. I think the results were a bit screwed up because of this. Meanwhile we decided not to hurry with our intro any more, as unfortunately there wasn't enough time left to finish it. However, Strepto stuck to the machine, now he started to optimize the engine in assembly, while I wandered through the party. I met many interesting people and some remembered my Freax project (if you don't know what is it, just visit www.freax.hu). I still missed some friends from IRC and real life, like Netpoet, Critikill, the Polish globetrotter group Addict and I'd hereby express my sorrow for them, as they missed a really, really good party!
Later a chick from some German leisure magazine arrived and interviewed us about our reasons for visiting a German party (what the hell can our reason be!) and about the Hungarian scene. She asked if we really have only 10 Marks for the three days. I said it's not true, as we didn't even have that. (If you are interested, our complete funds were 50 DM, together with Vickey.) Finally she photographed us in a veeery smart pose, like we were doing some demo diligently with Strepto's computer and laptop, and Vickey was watching us from behind. Hey, we're pop stars now! So Raise the flags!! :)
Now it was lunchtime, so we visited the Chinese restaurant on the first floor with the Austrian guys. To cut it short, we were almost fed to death. I've never seen a restaurant which had so HUGE meals. And it was also incredibly delicious! I never liked Chinese food before, as there are gazillions of Chinese restaurants in Hungary, but they all sell the same cheap and disgusting mixture. Then we took another walk in the city. It was already late at night, so not many places were open, but we visited the local hilltop of art, namely some pieces of junk art in the yard of the university, made of scrap metal. We were wondering what the hell are these: junk oil barrels, a broken heater, a scrapped car, all these welded together and displayed as a statue. I've come to the conclusion that if my dog shits on the pavement, that can also be considered art, because it's so unique, unreproducible, a piece of nature untouched by mankind, destined to quickly disappear from our planet. Besides, it's also crime art, as I might be fined if a policeman catches me.
Also, we found "die kleinste Kunstgallerie auf die Welt", the smallest art gallery of the world. It was just a little display box fixed on the wall, with three pictures. Let me reproduce one of them here:
This one was titled "Libelle". Actually I was really shocked. When I was a little kid, and I behaved naughtily at the table during dinner, my mother always said: "Son, don't play libelle at the table!" She could never tell what the word "libelle" meant, but it sounded so smart. Now I know, this is a libelle. This was what I was playing. (Actually, "die Libelle" means dragonfly in German.) Rather surprisingly, the next picture was rather similar to this. I won't draw another masterpiece now, just imagine the previous one with different colors. This one was titled "The Sniper". It's amazing, maybe the sniper camouflaged himself, resembling a dragonfly. The third painting was another of this kind, I don't remember the exact title, but just make up your own as any word will fit.
Returning to the partyplace, we tested the ice bar on the first floor. I cannot describe to you how great was the ice we had there. Perhaps Adok also agrees that this was something beyond what we can praise with any of our poor human languages. Anytime you go to Jena, be sure to visit that bar in the Holzmarktpassage! Later we also bought some "regular" ice, one portion was 1 DM, but that filled an entire funnel, two portions were a complete overdoze. Five stars! Thumbs up! The Best Ice ever!
Compos were coming up. The organizers were so kind in displaying my little ad about Freax before theirs, which was translated into German by Adok. This is something I also say thanks for. There isn't much to say about the 4K intros, just the usual stuff, T$'s one deserved to win. The 64K intro section was nice, but a bit boring for me as all these effects could have been done on a 386. The few color design is already boring, even on the web. Where are those nice, stylish old intros like "You Am The Robot", "Daze", "Astro" or "Nation Zero"? Why does everyone think that using 4 colors will make everything cool? Why the hell do we have those (lame) Geforce-III cards?
The demo compo was like the pixel compo, with some great entries but the rest being "humorous" crap. Well, they say there is a book about the German humour that is 1200 pages long, and it's all empty. (However, they still might be able to write the same book about Hungarian humour, as we also have similar crap on our compos.) Kolor's demo, titled "De Profundis", was a kicker of a demo, some think it resembles Kasparov, but it was far better and featured rather great coding. There wasn't much design in it though, but the code was a superb achievement, congratulations Shiva! Farbrausch and Haujobb both featured our musician, Nagz, as guest star. Farbrausch's "La Sculpture" managed to beat Haujobb's "E-Strange"; however, I preferred the latter of the two.
Here I would like to ask how it was possible that the group named Kakiarts (btw. Kaki means poo in Hungarian, and also in German, afaik) was able to beat even some serious products with their "funny" crap. Their LAME (with capitals) fun demo, titled "3 Igel" wasn't even able to run on the compo machine, but still it came 7th out of 16. How come that quite an unserious fun demo, titled "Polkatro", became 4th? I think it is LAME to vote for such things! They might be funny, they might be your friend's work, but they are not worth voting for! Obviously this is not the mistake of the makers of these demos, neither the organizers, but the audience. Is it still worth entering a compo, if you're working on your stuff for months and then some lame animation beats it, just because some people don't know what a demo should be? We'd better hold a fortune drawing instead of collecting any votes then.
And on the last night was the prizegiving ceremony. The only thing that won that was Hungarian, was the picture sent to the party by my colleague, titled 'Computer Room'. It is actually a captured frame of an animation he's working on, and it took the third prize. Also, we had four Hungarian tracks in the MP3 compo, none winning. Also, a pixelled picture by Romeo Reidl, ending up 6th.
Our trip home was not too interesting as we slept all the way to Vienna. Then we had a little debate with a Hungarian customs officer who thought we were potential smugglers as he saw our computers. He thought it was a reason to talk to us as we were some gypsies or something. Finally he was "nice" and let us enter our homeland, noting that "next time he will arrest us". Thank you, lieutenant, you're so nice. Then a bunch of gypsies boarded the train, travelling to Romania, who were very loud and annoying. At least we knew that we were back home.
I can summarize that Dialogos 2001 was one of the best parties of my life, and I am sure I will save my last pennies to visit again next year. However, I could imagine some improvements on the over-"technocratized" compo management system, which only accepted entries on the local network, which we were unable to connect to. But still, Dialogos deserves 9 points out of 10, losing that one only because of the compo entries' overall quality.
Photos supplied by Adok