In the age of a fast visual culture it’s easy to walk by things which deserve a bit more dedication to be appreciated. One year ago Hein Holt released Mutations, a typical example of that. Yet he manages to instantly grasp interest by a beautiful animated screen.
Hein is a multi-talented artist, who initially started out by doing graphics but has mastered both composing and programming up to a very high standard.
It’s easily underestimated, keeping the tension over many minutes of airplay by using basically one set of elements. The variations in relation to the machine’s limitations are the biggest challenges to be dealt with. Hein, who has a very strong background in the demoscene, shows both his experience and talent by fighting these creatively.
The entire show consists of different spirographs scarcely dressed with graphical ornaments in a strong set of colours, isolating the beauty of the spirograph. The screen changes setting approximately every 10 seconds, each variation is a little pearl of its own, unexpected combinations of the spirograph movements and the graphical elements. Hein managed to create quite a rich experience with very few elements in this demo.
In the spirit of older times, this could be seen as a revival or tribute to demos like Barbaric by Hal or Swinth, a long forgotten demo genre. Interesting fact is that these type of visualisations date back even to the 60ties (and probably even before), for example in this John Whitney-Permutation. Hein’s interpretation of these 80ties classics is one that goes in line with their greatness. Another one in line with obvious reference would be his Barbaric Mice.
Hein was so kind to answer some questions.
[8bit today] How did this demo emerge? Was the idea a tribute from the beginning?
[hein] As a starting coder I thought it was time to write a line-routine like the one in Swinth, which was for many I think the starting point of demo creation. The combination of music and the ballet like line-routine works pretty well in that one. At first I optimized the routine and every clock-cycle defeat was a triumph, so I’ve had enough fun working on that single piece of code. Eventually I tried out various (sinus) patterns and added the simple sprite effect which can also be seen in Hal ‘s Barbaric (or Stoat & Tim ‘s Circlesque, which I like better because of the spaced out music and various sprite shapes). One thing led to another and before I knew it I had to do many more patterns, which is why in the end of the loop the patterns aren’t as frisky as the beginning patterns. The patterns (including the colours) are based on the atmosphere of the wonderful music by Fred Gray. So, in a way it is a tribute, but it didn’t start out as such. The title of the demo speaks for itself and in my ongoing quest for originality, I was lucky enough that mutations.prg was still available.
[8bit today] Will there more demos in this genre from you?
[hein] I suppose so, though I find it difficult to define ‘this genre’. I just create the things I like, so I can’t box it differently than what’s going on in my mind or soul. Early 80s digital creations are an obvious source of inspiration, those are part of my childhood.
[8bit today] Are you planning to do more solo projects in the future, or do you intend to focus on certain disciplines?
[hein]Even though I enjoy all three disciplines (graphics, music, code), lately I focus most on code and music. I’m chained to doing graphic-design at work, that’s probably why I spend more time on the other 2 disciplines. Anyhow, there will be more solo ‘projects’ in the future, because it provides me the freedom I need to get to a point I’m satisfied with it, be it totally crap or supercool, there are no obligations towards other people. I think team-based projects are a bigger challenge and deserve a louder applause though.
Make sure to check his other work. Hein has been working with the Commodore 64 from the 80ties until today, which has led to a great list of publications. Varying from mainstream to experimental, but all top quality.