Rowan Lipkovits (reluctance) wrote,
Rowan Lipkovits
reluctance

The return of Mistigris

I've hit up nearly everywhere else about this development, which I was probably foreshadowing here first, but it's fitting that I do bring the announcement here (chee, a word I'm typing all the time, which always gets misspelled (and just did here) due to keyboard conflicts -- I hit the "oun" in a cascade with fingers 4, 3 and 2, then "ce" with fingers 2 and 3 on the other hand, but it overloads at "ou", drops the "n", beeps instead, then keeps accepting the rest of the letters. I am a man who makes many annoucements. OK, my digression is total now.) as historical and oldschool news belongs on a primarily historical and quite oldschool forum!

I had many nostalgic aspirations regarding bringing my adolescent BBS computer art creative milieu back to life, if only for a couple of weeks, and there were a few different ways I had considered going about doing it. First and foremost for a decade (for reals) I've been scheming mounting an old artscene computer art retrospective gallery exhibition in an actual art gallery on period hardware basically reconstructing the scene of the crimes -- '90s basement computer rooms. This is, hm, a big feat requiring much movement and organizing of things in the physical space of the real world, where the tendency of inertia is to remain at rest. Despite generating some interest in this from my old peers a few years back, there has been markedly little advance in this aspiration.

As a sideshow for it, however, I thought it might be nice to round up the old crew and release a new computer artpack for old time's sake. In fact, it turned out that I was sitting on a mountain of unreleased computer art I had intended to release circa 1998 but which had gotten caught up in the technological regime change and overall complicated times in the life of a young man. I thought I would release the old art, spiked with a bit of new art, and clear my slate. (Some people might argue that projects left unfinished after a decade are best left unfinished, but apparently not this guy.) To my surprise, we seem to have reached Peak Nostalgia, and many of my comrades from back in the day were displaying considerable interest in participating -- and we ended up getting a lot more new art than I expected. To avoid muddling things by abolishing 15 years of context, I decided to air the new art separately from the old stuff, and under a tight deadline: as our first Mistigris artpack release had been in October of 1994, we would hit a cosmically resonant 20th anniversary if I was able to make the pack happen by the end of October of 2014. Because Many Things Have Changed since 1998, I hit a few speed bumps assembling the artpack (oh, in retrospect it makes sense that three different standards of metadata might not all agree to cooperate and play together), but nonetheless we were able to get the artpack out and online in time to use this suitably Hallowe'eny promotional copy:
My computer art group of the '90s, Mistigris, closed up shop after a final release in 1998. Now, after lying dormant for 16 years, we have just released a new collection of computer artwork in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of our first release back in October of '94.
...
It is said that a poltergeist marks a charged physical site where some tremendous psychic activity once occurred, echoing through time with physical disturbances.
A revenant is an apparition informed by those who loved too much or dared too deep before they departed, bound to return without their flesh to attend to the unfinished business they couldn't let go of and leave behind.
Just in time for Hallowe'en, a writhing cadaver that's been in the ground for over 15 years improbably creeps back to the overworld to once again make its mark in the land of the living.
Ladies and gentlemen, avert your eyes, for I present to you a bold affront against the very Gods, the revival that nobody expected, least of all us: the first new MISTIGRIS artpack release since June of 1998.
MISTIGRIS: THE MODERN PROMETHEUS, featuring 27 new works ripped from the very souls of 19 classic artists in both traditional and contemporary computer art mediums, genres and styles.
Returning from limbo to mark the 20TH ANNIVERSARY, to the month, of its first artpack release.
bit.ly/mist1014
mistfunk.tumblr.com

Because even most of its onetime adherents no longer maintain the period environments needed to enjoy the vintage forms of computer art, it has been added to the 16colours.net site so you can enjoy an art gallery of the pack's visual contents through your web browser. Do note, however, that the majority of the pack's nearly 80 meg filesize is digital music, to enjoy which you will simply have to download it and load it up in your favorite music player.

Because it is not available in plaintext anywhere else, for Google-ability I thought I might like to also include the full text of the artpack's infofile:

Well, as it turns out, 1998 didn't work out quite that neatly, and we never
quite made it to four years.  But let's skip back to February of that fateful
year of 1994...

      Cthulu: "You're such a liar!  NO WAY did you log on to Digital Holocaust.
                                           The phone number isn't even public!"

Creideiki: "Not public to lamers, at least!
When I get home today I'll see if my new user application has been approved."

                                     Phalse: "But where did you get the digits?
                              Private boards are only for couriers and elites!"

Creideiki: "Easy, I told the SysOp that I was a computer artist."

                     Zamfir Worshipper: "How do you think he's going to respond
                                            when he finds out that you're not?"

Creideiki: "How hard can it be?"

And so he, then I, joined NWA, which turned into iMPERiAL, which promptly
collapsed in grand fashion.  And then... Following what appeared to be, in the
microcosm of the BBS-based computer art community, an eventful summer whose
political twists and turns (NATiON!  TRiBE!) would no doubt go down in the
history books, the first Mistigris artpack, MIST1094.ZIP, was released in
October of 1994, coordinated by me, a callow youth of some fifteen and a half
years.  (Yo Cthu, can we get a few more commas in here?)

                  (Well, let, me, see, what, I, can, do,,,,,,,,,)

              (skipping lightly ahead past all the good stuff...)

The final Mistigris release, M-9806.ZIP, was released four months shy of four
years later, at which time the technological landscape looked considerably
different from how the terrain would have been surveyed back in '94.  Big fish
brands in a small pond such as FidoNet, TradeWars, DesqView, Blue Wave and US
Robotics would all be relegated to the status of historical footnotes in a
matter of months; flourishing digital creative environments such as the Amiga
had been diminished to boutique specialist niches and in the wake of Windows
'95 and now Windows '98 (oh, and let us not forget OS/2, which was running our
local train system up until a few months ago), MS-DOS was on its way there as
well.  Heck, ACiD even stopped releasing ANSI and iCE became best-known for
its hirez exquisite corpses!  Cats and dogs, living together...

I interrupt this apocalyptic nostalgia for a moment of perspective: as of
today, it's been 16 and one quarter years since the last (well, "most recent")
Mistigris artpack release.  Otherwise put, a child born on the day our final
pack dropped would now be older than I was when we started operations.  (And
I've been missing the sweet spot my 35 artpack releases with Mist entailed for
half of my life now!)

M-9806.ZIP was an unassuming release, not apparently intended as the group's
final swan song pack; a successor was ready to roll with a hopper full of
computer art (a bit light on the textmode side, admittedly), and there was no
clear indication that the wild ride had come to an end, that we would be
delaying for not just one month, but for... huh, two hundred of them!

So... It's been a while.  Bear with me please as I exercise some deeply
atrophied muscles.

There were some Mist releases you may not have noticed or been aware of, as I
did my part to maintain the viability of the Mistigris "brand" -- scouting for
talent, making inquiries, logging consular appearances at demoparties -- for a
couple of years following what had not yet been acknowledged by me to be its
final conventional artpack release... at least, up until now.  (Admittedly
things have been pretty quiet on the Mist front since 2000 or so, making it
understandable if you'd thought we'd gone down for the last time.  You can't
keep a good man down... nor us, it seems.)

            * artdisk-.zip - Mistigris "Best-of" anthology distributed on
            floppy diskette at a Living Closet event at the Church of
            Pointless Hysteria, July 23rd, 1999.  There were a few problems
            with this well-intentioned attempt to marry a declining computer
            art community with a burgeoning live performance one: first, an
            attempt to survey highlights of nearly four years of releases
            (including exclusive "last chance for me to release these!"
            inclusion of several virtuous works I'd been sitting on for a
            rainy day) on a single floppy diskette biased curation toward the
            compact and minimalist; second, even the people who still had
            working floppy drives in that bold post-iMac world were
            disinclined to pop random disks found at parties into their
            machines, indicating that clearly I was attending the wrong kinds
            of parties.  The original run was in an edition of some 15 or so
            disks, and I think maybe 3 of them were taken.  For a time the
            anthology lived on in webpage form, then faded into cosmic
            background radiation when that free hosting dried up.  The next
            few months will see a reissue of this highlights reel under its
            original filename (see above), for those interested in getting a
            refresher crash course in just why this retrograde dead end is so
            worth celebrating again.

            * prjct006.zip - "Mistigris World Tour" April Fool's release, The
            Project, August 1999.  Humour has pervaded the artscene (perhaps
            inevitable while so insistent on reproducing Rob Liefeld's
            impossible anatomical mistakes) while its participants have
            simultaneously approached its intangible affairs with serious
            rigor, but rarely did we encounter an endeavour with a puckish
            sense of humour so ingrained into its DNA as the conceptual art
            series "The Project" by madASScow.  (I know, with a name like that
            you'd expect a solemn kind of focus, but no.)  When they announced
            a textmode special I found an opportunity to put to use a
            selection of fundamentally unusable naive ANSI art I'd perversely
            squirreled away for another April Fool's Mist pack that would
            never come to pass (or would it?), including the only material
            we'd ever released from one of the greatest polymaths who ever
            sojourned under our affiliation, Talonswift -- and the eminently
            cringeworthy early attempts at ANSI art created by your humble
            author before concluding that his poetry pointed to a more
            promising future.  Speaking of which...

            * getready.zip - "Get Ready To Read", Cthulu's collected
            illustrated lits, January 2000.  Following Israfel's fall from
            grace when ACiD merged with GOTHiC in April '94, there was no
            place for creative writing and poetry in the membership of the
            artscene's top-echelon ensembles.  Because we could never do
            things the easy way, Mistigris found itself a refuge of sorts for
            the endangered form of creative expression (and critically, was
            led by a proponent of the form, who would be impossible for
            another group to poach), boldly forging onward in championing a
            possible future computer art scene where poems didn't have to end
            with a BBS' ridiculous name (or ANSIs be capped with a logo for a
            BBS' ridiculous name, for that matter) in order to be released in
            an artpack.  This approach gave Mist packs a radically different
            texture from those of other groups, who remained largely unswayed
            by our vanguard example.  For whatever reason, my rhymes and
            metres were tolerated and even requested (when backsliding to the
            simpering BBS-advertising mode), granting me the ability to
            appear, in illustrated collaborations, in releases of groups who
            would never allow me to join.  There were a lot of these
            collaborations, commissioned with many highly-skilled visual
            artists, and of course I had the chance to work with more than a
            few Mistigris illustrators, being the ones I had closest at hand.
            By achieving the wider release and more prestigious placement, I
            hoped that the demonstration of the great work we were up to would
            stimulate greater interest in lit generally and Mistigris
            specifically, as its single densest quality hub, but it turns out
            that things didn't end up panning out that way.  (Anyhow, this
            archive was the #1 download from Acheron in the month of its
            release!  A big splash or a rapidly shrinking scene?  You be the
            judge!)

So, here we are.  With the year 2000 out of the way, that just about brings us
up to the present.  I privately noted our 10-year anniversary to myself in
2004, but I didn't expect anyone else who had so enthusiastically bailed out
on that world so relatively recently to have any tenderness for it yet; Mist
had at that point only been put to bed for as long as it had been active --
the corpse hadn't yet rotted enough for flowers to grow over the grave.  I
began actively planning an artscene retrospective gallery exhibition this
year, but though others have successfully pulled off the feat before and
since, and though I was actively helping to run an art gallery in the interim,
a decade has not been enough time for me to bring the dream to fruition.

The 10-year anniversary of our final release, in 2008, was still too soon for
people to look back with a tender glimmer of nostalgia, though perhaps with
increasing age we've become more cognizant of what we've lost and left behind.
I noted (and quite frankly I'm very confident that I was the only one who did)
on my long-term radar in the spring of 2014 that this would, in an alternate
timeline, have been year 20 on Mistigris' schedule for world domination, and
decided to make some easy-pitch inquiries to onetime members with a six-month
lead time.  To my astounded delight, it's been just long enough such that
people replied with fondness and interest.  (Also with much incredulity that
it would be possible, even were it desirable, for them to pick up the tools
they had set aside 16 years prior, and with skepticism that the zenith of
their youthful art had ever been anything worth sharing, creating or
celebrating.)

This well and truly ends with us fully up to speed: making and sharing
computer art reminds me of joys from a previous life, but of course the
greatest thrill has been reconnecting with these old comrades, most of whom
have been off the radar for the better part of two decades and some of whose
real names were never known in the first place!  (which, to be sure, made
looking them up on Facebook quite problematic.)  Not all of the fifty-odd (and
some downright strange) veterans of the '90s computer art trenches I'd rounded
up were in a position to contribute to this artpack, but being back in contact
with them at least opens the door.  I only regret missing out on reconnecting
with those I was unable to locate.  (Lady Blue!  Corinthian!  Grinch!
Skrubly!  Are you out there?)
                                      ...

The thing that prompted the creation and release of the artpack which you are
currently enjoying was my ageing stockpile of computer art which had been
curated, submitted, gathered and stored with the intention of being released
someday in an artpack, mostly dating to the period 1998-2000.  You may note
that this archive here, the one that you are currently viewing, primarily
consists of quite recent work, strangely enough.  I wanted to release a Mist
pack for the occasion and figured that I would finally discharge the pile-up
of history on my hard drive (or as I like to put it, declare a general amnesty
on all imprisoned works of art) -- basically I lined up my old cronies in
hopes of finding an audience for the bygone and forgotten works among their
onetime creators.  But to my surprise and delight, many of them felt
passionately about providing a demonstration of how hot their stuff is today.
That makes for this awesome artpack you are currently enjoying, a respectable
showing in this positively Blocktronic era.  But I'm still sitting on the
backlog.  We considered lumping it all together, but opted against due to the
risk of embarrassing confusion between My Art, 1998 and My Art, 2014.  (One can
really appreciate the depth of tone and maturity of theme in the newer work now
that we see them side by side and can appreciate the wealth of life experience
that has enriched the perspective of their creator.  What do you mean, that's
the older piece?)

So do please keep your eyes open: in the very near future (not just "near" in
the context of 16-year delays) I'll be releasing at long last M-9808.ZIP, the
complete pack we never shared, then another -- containing at least a hundred
pieces of never-before-viewed-by-the-artscene computer artwork.  And then, who
knows!  There are archives and music disks like The Bells Of Yule (hm...
sounds... December-ish) unobtainable today needing to be reissued (I'm sorry,
but: it's necessary), plus I'm sitting on two complete uncoded e-mags and ten
or so competitions worth of unreleased Blenders... and, who knows, having been
reintroduced to the idea of working together, members of the Mistigris crew
may take pleasure in resuming doing so.  I'm going to optimistically propose
another Mistigris artpack release of new work in one year's time, for October
2015.

Do please look for M-9808.ZIP and everything that follows wherever artpacks
are to be found.  Uh... where exactly are artpacks to be found these days?
On IRC?  Did we reconcile with the administrators of the Hornet FTP site?
I'll have to check up on Superunknown and Acheron.

Just kidding!  Of course, you're presumably checking this artpack out on
sixteencolors.net or artpacks.org (you'll have to download the whole pack to
enjoy the music, though!), and we're on Facebook, and many thanks to our
fellow traveller mattmatthew for getting us set up with mistfunk.tumblr.com,
where we can showcase Mistigrisian (OK, contest time: we need a better
adjectival form... Mistigrudlian?) creations both old and new.  (In fact, my
main contribution to this anniversarial release will be going up live there,
exclusively, shortly, because even if throwing mp3s in an artpack is no longer
a big deal, I don't know if we're ready for digital video yet.)

Lost but not forgotten,
cthulu c/o tabnet.ca

Turns out after all this time, I can safely report that I have no trouble
returning to writing infofiles.  (My problem is, predictably enough, stopping
writing them.)
And, of course, the memberlist:
                   . mistigris memberlist october 2014 .

        The following individuals have contributed to this collection:

Bah, Kasha! looked back at her historical contributions to Mistigris artpacks
and wrote a response to them.  Her identity has been feebly obfuscated to
protect the innocent.
                                      ...

Bryan (aka haquisaq) somehow made it through the last 20 years alive.  His more
recent creative efforts include composing hardware-oriented chip music under
the still equally stupid moniker "bryface".  Notably, he has had the rare
privilege of performing his music at chip music festivals around the world -
including places like Japan, Europe, and Australia - alongside many of the
global chip scene's foremost musicians.

He also ekes out his days as a web developer for a creative agency, bikes and
plays volleyball in his spare time, and eats three meals a day, sometimes four.

         bryface.bandcamp.com  / soundcloud.com/bryface / @bryfacetron

                                      ...

Cthulu warns: Don't get me started!  After the computer artscene wound down, I
took up performance poetry with the early poetry slam scene.  My poetic "voice"
was one of discontent and the persona was not healthy to maintain on a long-
term basis, so I switched streams back to music and will have been fronting
"the jug band of the damned" on an unruly accordion for 10 years come January.

  reluctance.livejournal.com / videogamecomicads.blogspot.com / @unwashedmass

                                      ...

The very month Hallucigenia wrapped, Etana launched Keyframe Online, a
a tremendous animation resource.   "Red Haired Girl" is part of her 100 Faces
portrait painting challenge at her homepage at tiltedwindmills.com

                                      ...

Fille of Galza has been in the Mistigris sphere since the summer of 1999 --
that is, too late to ever share creative work with us, until now.  Cthulu made
a guest visit to the 22nd Galza artpack earlier this year and now Fille gets
a chance to return the favour.  Find him on Twitter as @filipdehaes

                                      ...

Kevin Bryce wasn't "there" then, but he is here now.  Hear more at
soundcloud/kevtrax
                                      ...

Livewire hasn't written a babble story like this one since Al's House of Meats
closed up shop, but he's still got that wacky knack.

                                      ...

We're thrilled to have successfully tracked down our elusive Australian member
Maeve Wolf, a versatile visual artist with a portfolio at dashsharon.tumblr.com

                                      ...

Nearly a Mist member back in the day, we were fellow travellers with
Mattmatthew in TeklordZ.  His guest art has represented Mistigris for years on
Wikipedia, and we are pleased to share his unfortunate piece with Blocktronics.

                                      ...

Melodia of Digitallusions was a sole proprietor music manufactory concern.  In
this release we are pleased to present lit from her for the first time in
addition to two songs -- and keep your ears open for much more!

                          soundcloud.com/empressplay

                                      ...

Logoist extraordinaire, Platinum fought the gods of computer security to set us
up a telnet BBS to act as a WHQ.  House odds are typically on the gods.

                                      ...

Better known in a Mist context working in a different medium under different
handles, Psidream now releases drum 'n bass under the Nightfall imprint.

                                      ...

Publius Emeritus II is a onetime Mist member who isn't hiding that effectively.

                                      ...

Founder of EuphoniX, Sentience has given the music a rest and is resuming his
explorations into every other creative medium.

                                      ...

Formerly known as Silver Angel, Tillie continues to live and write in the 604
area.  She's been published in Salacious Magazine, and will be featured in the
upcoming Dirty Queer Anthology. Balancing being a queer, polyamourous feral
leatherwoman and handling donations at a church/homeless shelter, Tillie can be
found at @echnoidsymmetry on Twitter and on the book of face.

[Ed's note: Tillie is currently crowdfunding to be trained as a doula.  I just
wanted to mention it because it very likely is something that has never been
said in an artpack before.  If you wanted to support the campaign, that would
be cool also.]
                                      ...

Tarot violated Finnish law in order to present us his submission, a remix of an
ANSI from 1997, replacing F3 blocks with hot, burning fire combusting through
a ceramic matrix.  (That's what we like to refer to as extreme textmode art.)
He can be found at facebook.com/joakimraaka

                                      ...

Another music machine, Theodoric got a little confused when the scene shifted
(rocking the Amiga, his scene got rocked a little earlier than the PC kids'),
but shaking his head he picked himself back up and has kept on keeping on.
Find more of his compositions at soundcloud.com/theorica


                                      ...

A former Mist member in disguise, Whazzit graces us with an ANSI-illustated
story... and a "Gus".  (No, "Gus" is not the mascot of the Gravis Ultrasound.)

                                      ...

Another former Mistigris member from the very beginning, WI has been jazzed to
discover that we didn't all go away forever.  (As are we, one supposes!)

                                      ...

Zinc, aka J-Ray, has been active in many different art forms since his Kosmic /
Impulse Tracker days.  After experimenting with rock and folk music, he formed
a three-piece live electronic band called Catscam, and continued making music
using live instruments.  He pursued a career in Graphic Design, and dabbles in
visual art, slam poetry, calligraphy, and even dance.  J-Ray is now a
competitive dodgeball player, part of the Vancouver Asian Film Festival
executive, studying Korean, and obsessing over ampersands.

   www.j-ray.com / soundcloud.com/catastrophic-error / Instagram @DesignInVan

                                      ...

Thanks to our guests for the use of the fabulous Mist logos they made for us
before the full scope of our torpor was widely understood: header by Grymmjack
of Polyester, footer by rz and tr, and the fabulous salvaged FILE_ID.DIZ by
mega!

Thanks also to the following folks for emerging from retirement to join us,
if not in submitting artwork to this release, at least to act as moral support.
Here's hoping we get a chance to thrust more of their work to prominence again
sometime soon!

Adri, Ay Lektriq, Coyote, Crowkeeper, Da Vinci, Eoanya, Eto, The Extremist,
Flyingfish, Foolish Bird, The 4th Disciple, Freaq, Genocide Kitten,
God Among Lice, Hacker Joe, Halaster, Happyfish, Ice Cream Emperor,
The Itchy Swordsman, Jake Blues, Konami, Kyo, Mavrik, Melkor, Mr. Flibbles,
Mr. Wrong, Nitnatsnoc, Otnoo Ishphoo, Ozero, Pannekoekologist, The Pope,
Sephiroth, Soul Blazer, Talonswift, Tincat, Tzeentch and Weird...

... And everyone else we couldn't reach or mobilize in time!  Hopefully we can
find a way to work together again someday!  If you were part of Mist in the
past (or wished you had been!) please don't hesitate to look us up!

OK, what else do we include in these things?

                      . mistigris distribution sites .
                          (you're kidding, right?)

                     The Screaming Tomato . (ITS) DOW-NNOW
                        The Jade Monkey . (RIP) BBS-SING
              Dreams of Dark, Enchanted Lizards . (WON) TAW-AKEN
                         Canopic Jars . (NEV) ERL-IVED

Greets to Blocktronics, Galza, and ... OK, I'll bite -- who else is releasing
artpacks in the new millennium?  Hats off to TABNet on their 21st: almost dead,
but impossible to kill!

Cheers to all -- anyone who sees this has got to be all right by us, you
weirdos!
I have further plans to somewhat diminish the splash we've just made of the reception of our unexpected and frankly unprecedented reunion pack by releasing the old and unreleased (and re-releasing the "lost") computer art from back in the day, for the sake of posterity, and then who knows -- with more likeminded people from the past on my side, perhaps my other aspirations for the gallery exhibition will be more possible. And maybe, just maybe, some of us may continue to make art together.
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