Breakthrough of Digital Culture: Finland accepts the Demoscene on its national UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity – Demoscene – The Art of Coding

Finland became the forerunner of understanding and accepting digital culture in general and the Demoscene in particular as cultural heritage. Right before the Easter weekend the Finnish Heritage Agency announced, that the Ministry of Education and Culture listed the Demoscene on proposals from the National Board of Antiquities and the Intangible Cultural Heritage Expert Group as national cultural heritage of humanity together with eleven other cultural practices.

We are excited about this achievement and congratulate the Finnish and international Demoscene and all who helped making this a reality. This is an outstanding moment, as it is the first time that a digital culture is listed as UNESCO intangible world cultural heritage, anywhere, ever.

The Finnish Heritage Agency explains the listing as such: “Demoskene is an international community focused on demos, programming, graphics and sound creatively real-time audiovisual performances. It produces many other things digital content: small demos , music, graphics, videos, floppy disks, and games. These works are distributed free of charge, initially on floppy disks and later on various online services. Since the 1980s the community that has grown up to now consists of hundreds of different demo groups all over Finland, each with members to a few dozen. The groups meet at various events throughout the year. Subculture is an empowering and important part of identity for its members.”

It is very fortunate that the Finnish application has been led as a joint-effort by demosceners and heritage and cultural institutions in Finland alltogether. It involved big and small events, community-meetups, seminars and online-surveys to involve as many voices and perspectives of and on the scene during the submission process.
In result the application in Finland is based on a collaboratively created Wiki-Article, representing the central document of the submission, explaining and contextualising the culture and history of the demoscene in a brief, and thorough way. The successful application is based on this collaboratively created document as the main reference point of the Finnish UNESCO decision.

Jukka O. Kauppinen, Finnish Journalist and demoscene veteran since the 1980s, is happy: “Demoskene inspires to create, express and to do. While it revolves around digital devices, at its core demoscene is communal, connecting people and groups across borders. The inclusion of demoskene on the Finnish listing of intangible cultural heritage is an important indication that it is still possible to birth and grow completely new cultures and content, even in the digital realm. And demoscene is one that still rapidly evolves, changes and creates new stories to remember.”

The fact that the Finnish application was created by the Finnish demoscene culture in support by a wide range of institutions and partners shows, how connected and relevant the demoscene is in Finnish digital culture until today. A big thank you from us go to the communities and drivers behind the Finnish submission, namely Satu Haapakoski, Heikki Jungman, Jukka O. Kauppinen and Markku Reunanen, supported by many more.

We are thankful that the Art of Coding initiative (which has the aim to ultimately enlist the Demoscene as first transnational digital culture on UNESCO intangible world cultural heritage) could play an instigating role in the Finnish success and is supported and encouraged to continue with our mission. Tobias Kopka, Co-Initiator of AOC, responsible for content and relations to the scene, is excited: “We are proud and thankful that a bedrock of international demoscene-culture has taken the successful leap of spearheading future initiatives and UNESCO first time agrees with us which important role digital culture can play for the community and identity of its members.” And Andreas Lange, Co-Initiator of AOC, responsible for coordinating the international applications, summarizes: “This is a strong commitment, which not only is a big success for the Finnish Demoscene, but will serve as a breakthrough for the campaign and digital culture generally. The next country where we are expecting a judgement is Germany, which hopefully will confirm the strong European relations of the Demoscene as well.”


Partners and Supporters of the Finnish Application:

(See more partners of Art of Coding, including Finnish supporters here)

Please see the Bibliography and links to external sources of information.

Latest update to this article: 15.04.2020

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