Dark Domain: the artpacks.acid.org collection

The Relics of Our Generation
by RaD Man - December 13th, 2003

With bloodshot eyes, I present to you Dark Domain; the most comprehensive artscene compilation to date.

This library is an accumulation of artistic and literary works born from the creative minds of the IBM-PC underground with pieces dating all the way back to the late 1980s. Just as I have spent so many countless late nights maintaining and compiling this collection, so have so many others done the same creating, packaging, trading, viewing and discussing the very elements that make it.

Dark Domain breaks out into four main sets: artpacks, loaders, mags, and programs. Also included is the legacy HTML from the formerly web enabled version of artpacks.acid.org and several other hidden easter eggs.

Artpacks, being the main focus here, is easily the most thorough collection of the quartet. The artpacks phenomenon began in 1992 when competing groups began releasing monthly packages of ANSI art. As technology evolved, these packages transformed in to virtually anything digitally artistic and packed into a single ZIP or RAR file for distribution.

Loaders, the very root of the demoscene, have been disturbingly overlooked by a sizeable segment of the underground. Known also as intros, or cracktros (a crack intro), loaders are traditionally programs that load in advance of a piece of pirated software. These programs serve as graphical advertisements, prominently displaying the name of the cracker and affiliated cracking group. Over time, these loaders have progressed from static images to sophisticated splash screens containing complex 3D animation, special effects and music.

Mags, as the name implies, are electronic magazines (also known as diskmags) which examine the full gamut of the underground's various interconnecting worlds; ANSI, ASCII, BBS modding, coding, demos, module tracking, warez, et cetera. The vast majority of these 'zines are executables written for Microsoft DOS or Windows, but some are plain ASCII text, colored ANSI or HTML.

Last is the Programs directory which is geared largely towards various IBM-PC platforms, hosting a variety of tools for de/compressing ZIP and RAR archives, graphic editors/viewers, drivers and source code for the same.

Since 1996, the ACiD Artpacks Archive has served as a cornerstone of the digital artscene, and has been the single most stable resource to retrieve artpacks, related magazines and software utilities. A tribute of our own success has been how many present-day archives have used subsets of artpacks.acid.org as a foundation for the creation of their own. Just as we called upon distinguished BBSes from the past to begin ours.

It is not uncommon at all for me to receive sincerely appreciative letters from people, thanking me profusely for preserving an important file (or files) which they had lost somehow and had been desperately searching for -- emails from the very same SysOp or group leader who had originally uploaded them to our site years ago.

That was precisely what I had hoped this archive would accomplish.

As encompassing as our archive is, it is not complete. It never has been, it never will be. Even in the final days of creating the Dark Domain gold master, I've been adding batches of files daily, some of which date back as far as 1994. It is encouraging to know that there are others out there; Black Jack, Erekose, Jack Phlash, Jason Scott, Lord Scarlet, Redhound, Snowman, Toast and so many others who share (and have shared) the ambitious goal of not just archiving the present, but drilling down to recover the past like scene archaeologists.

Nothing would please me more to see the contents of this DVD perpetuated; couriered as an ISO on FTPs, distributed as a Torrent, hosted on IRC DCC servers, traded at parties, posted up as some multi-part archive on Usenet, or used by siteops to augment their own archive. Maybe one day this and other collections will be tucked away on some Blu-Ray disc, silicon brain chip or some succeeding media which we've yet to imagine.

By whatever means, thank you for obtaining a copy of this archive. If I can have it my way, our contributions will outlive the Sun.

RaD Man
-- RaD Man / ACiD Productions

" The history of art is about outsiders who risk themselves, who use themselves up. It's as much that as the objects made. Being on the fringe isn't antithetical to art; art fringes are fertile, they're where the changes take place. It's one window, the one I dove through. " -- Stephen Dubov

© Copyright 1990-2004 ACiD Productions, All Rights Reserved.