Projects, Essays, Videos, and Comics

Welcome to Marin Balabanov's Digital Playground

Creativity meets technology. Dive into a world where programming exercises showcase not just code, but the stories they tell. Read about the vibrant realms of hackathons, the demoscene, retro computers, and comics. Explore their rich history and impact.

Whether you're a fellow coder, a tech aficionado, or a pop culture enthusiast, you are welcome to join me on this journey of exploration and discovery!

Graffathon 2024. Coding Meets Art At the Introductory Demoparty

June 2024

Graffathon 2024

Where Coding Meets Art

In June 2024, I went to Graffathon in Finland, an interesting intro to demoscene culture. 28 participants met for this uniquely starter-friendly demoparty, enjoying a good helping of creativity and collaboration. On two and a half days, demosceners crafted seventeen impressive demos, showcasing the talents of both beginners and advanced coders. Here are my impressions of Graffathon 2024, exploring the vibrant intersection of art and technology that defines this extraordinary community.

Distraction-free writing with a Palm m125 and a foldable keyboard

June 2024

Palming Without Distractions

Distraction-free Writing with a Palm Organizer and a Foldable Keyboard

The Palm m125, with the right peripherals, can make a great distraction-free writing tool to sustain the flow state that many writers of prose and long articles seek to achieve. Here is how a decades-old organizer can help, and what to pay attention to for a frictionless experience. This epic article has it all! (Including a hidden section about PalmOS Hacks.)

The Books Chronicling the Atari ST Demoscene

May 2024

The Books That Chronicle the History of the Atari ST Demoscene

Over the past decade, a number of books were published that chronicle the history of the Atari ST demoscene. These books provide a detailed look at the creative and technical achievements of the demoscene community, exploring the innovative audiovisual presentations created on the Atari ST computer. Here I introduce and discuss the various volumes in this loose collection.

The State of the Art demo by Spaceballs

January 2024

Demo Beats and MTV Vibes

History and Analysis of State of the Art by Spaceballs

"State of the Art" was a groundbreaking demo for the Commodore Amiga created by the Norwegian demogroup Spaceballs in 1992. It gained widespread acclaim for its innovative use of real-time 2D vector graphics, animation, and sound, becoming an iconic piece in the history of the Amiga demoscene. Let's take a deep dive!

Exploring the Amiga Demoscene

December 2023

The Commodore Amiga and its Undying Adoration by Anarchist Creatives

Let's investigate the birth of the demoscene, the Amiga platform's revolutionary beginnings, its emotional resonance within a dedicated community, and its broader influence on the field of computer graphics and music. Why is the Amiga still one of the most significant platforms in the demoscene?

Helsinki Hackathon Horizons: Junction X 2023

November 2023

Helsinki Hackathon Horizons

Junction X 2023

In November 2023 at the Junction X hackathon in Helsinki, our team tackled the challenge by steel maker Outokumpu, focusing on sustainable AI solutions in steel production. The experience was delightful and enriching showcasing the power of diverse collaboration and the spirit of ingenuity, leaving us with invaluable insights and memories.

Using the MacBook with an eInk Tablet as an External Display

November 2023

Using the MacBook with an eInk Tablet as an External Display

Using an eInk display as an external screen reduces eye strain and is well readable in direct sunlight. How do you connect the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra to a MacBook Air? Let's explore various methods like AirDroid Cast and Duet Display, alongside a more economical and effective solution involving a USB Capture Device. Find out the details in this article and video.

Header image of the article Authentication Antics

October 2023

Authentication Antics

The Complexity of User Registration and Authentication

Mapping out the process of user registration, user login and password reset let me rediscover the quirks and delights of the process. Here's my unnecessarily detailed description with wireframes and flowcharts of something we take for granted.

Evoke 2023 Demoparty Report

August 2023

Evoke 2023 Demoparty Report

From July 28th to 30th, I visited the Evoke 2023 demoparty in Cologne. After years of study and admiration of the demoscene, I participated in a demoparty in person for the third time. Here's what I experienced, which graphics I submitted for the competitions, and what I learned. I hope this helps newcomers to the demoscene make the most of their first demoparty.

The KfW Cloud DevOps Hackathon 2023 in Frankfurt

August 2023

Coding for a Cause

Our Hackathon Adventure at KfW Bank in July 2023

On a warm July weekend in 2023, in the heart of Frankfurt/Main, our team participated at the KfW Bank Cloud DevOps Hackathon. We delved into challenges ranging from Microsoft Azure Cloud to Kubernetes and beyond. Join us as we recap our unforgettable adventure, filled with innovation, camaraderie, and a whole lot of code.

Unleash the Power of the DevTerm

June 2023

Guide to ClockworkPi's Portable Linux Console

The ClockworkPi DevTerm is a peculiar portable Linux device with numerous delightful features, albeit some frustrating ones as well. This guide will demonstrate how to configure the DevTerm to overcome its limitations, such as the small screen size and the somewhat challenging trackball. Additionally, it will provide instructions on using the DevTerm with an iPad Pro.

HealthHub Concept at CraftHack 2023

May 2023

Award-Winning CT Scan App Concept

Caffeine, Code, and Collaboration: CraftHack 2023

In May 2023, we participated in the CraftHack 2023 hackathon in Budapest and created the POC for HealthHub, a doctor's AI assisted portal for scheduling CT scans. To our delight and surprise, our team was awarded the grand prize from among forty competing teams. It was an unforgettable experience. This is what happened, these were the mistakes we made, and this is what we learned.

Portable A500 Mini

May 2023

The Portable A500 Mini and How It Ended Up in a Pub

The A500 Mini is a nifty recreated retro computer that can be made to run any classic Amiga software. Here's how to turn it into a portable device using an Android tablet as a screen to bring it to the pub for field-testing. And I shot a video doing it! Let me show you, it's fun.

Dots By Any Other Name

October 2022

The Story of the first Digitally Produced Comic Book

This is an essay about Shatter, a comic book created by Mike Saenz, Peter B. Gillis and Charles Athanas in the mid-1980s on an Apple Macintosh (though with traditional, analog coloring). This milestone of the comics industry paved the way for other digital comics like Das Robot Imperium by Michael Götze and other digital comics.

Circuits Ablaze

October 2020

How Technical Limitations Pushed the Early Demoscene to Produce Digital Art

This is my master's thesis about the demo-group The Exceptions during the years 1987 to 1989 in the Atari ST demoscene. These were the formative years of the Atari ST demoscene, and The Exceptions were the first to produce demos on the computer system.

Telidon Meets Instagram

May 2020

The Telidon Art Collection at Inter/Access

This is the story of the Canadian Telidon system from the early 1980s, the artists who worked with it, the unlikely story of how their work was rediscovered by the Toronto-based Inter/Access gallery in 2015, and how to conserve digital artwork created with Telidon.

Pixeling in the Retrosphere

December 2019

Creating a Comic Book on 1980s Hardware

In this project I created a five page comic story using 1980s computer hardware. I refurbished a thirty year old Atari computer, upgraded it and then pixel-painted comic using the art package NEOChrome Master and only 16 colors.

Dev Projects
Archiving the Archive Thumbnail

February 2024

Archiving an Archive

My Adventures Scraping the Contents of the Archive of Digital Art

A while ago, I wanted to learn web scraping so I wrote my own little suite of applications based on Puppeteer/Node.js to grab content from the Archive of Digital Art (ADA), parse it into JSON and extract the images. Join me as I scrape the bottom of the web archive.

Mansion of Trepidation

April 2023

Mansion of Trepidation

This is a choice-based solo fantasy adventure in the style of the 'Choose Your Own Adventure' books I developed in vanilla JavaScript. The graphics and text descriptions are generated using AI tools. The descriptions are generated using ChatGPT. The player can search the 'Mansion of Trepidation' to defeat the villain and rescue their young nephew.

Ice Hockey Exercise Site

March 2022

Ice Hockey Exercise Site

This is an unsolicited proof-of-concept for NHL Edge using ChartJS, Bootstrap and JQuery. It was developed in a one day hackathon session. It features a selectable video hero element and a player stats library with a simple filter function by player name.


December 2020

Sports Calendar Web App

EventRadar is a calendar of sports events, where events can be added and categorized based on sports. I have implemented a simple user registration and login, so that only signed-in users can make changes to the calendar. I developed it in PHP, Symfony, TWIG (with Bootstrap 5), and MySQL.

ADAM, the Archive of Demo Art and Media

August 2020

Archive of Demo Art and Media

ADAM, the Archive of Digital Art and Media is an art archive with an Angular frontend and an API served through Express/NodeJS. I developed it as part of my master's thesis for my MA in Media Art History. The fully working prototype runs on Heroku. It features user management, editing and publishing of articles.

Pure Text Website

Pure Text Website

In the age of complex HTML and CSS, with content dynamically rendered with JavaScript and megabytes worth of images, I bring you a minimalistic page only composed of pure text. It still has large titles and a page layout.

Profireiniger Cleaning Company

Cleaning Company Website

In the first phase of this project, I created a static brochure website for a cleaning company in Vienna featuring their services. In the phase is in progress to create a backoffice admin interface.

Design Videos

A Wide Variety of Videos

Over the years, I recorded a number of Youtube videos on many different subjects like the Bitmap Brothers game "Chaos Engine" on the Atari ST, about the iPad apps that support the full resolution on external displays, on how to draw Captain America and a number of different design topics.

Creating Videos Using AI

Using AI Tools to Make Explainer Videos

What if you could create your own explainer videos without much effort? I decided to try it myself and made three explainer videos in only one day using generally available and cheap artificial intelligence tools. The results are perfectly workable. Take a look at the three videos that came out.

Enigmatic Baboon

Youtube Series on Fantasy and Science Fiction

In 2013 and 2014, I made a series of Youtube videos about movies, comic books, science fiction, and drawing. The series covers a drawing tutorial, an experiment to draw like comics artist Rob Liefeld, visiting fantasy, and comics conventions and reviews of Doctor Who and an issue of the Fantastic Four comics series.

The Blind Woman and Cats

A Lucid Dream Comic

This is a three-page comic based on a story from the dream diary of Lucid Fera. The dreamer watches a blind woman encountering her cats and contemplating existence. I drew the comic on paper, colored the panels using Procreate on the iPad Pro, and used Comic Life on the Mac for layouts and lettering. You can find the detailed steps of the process in the project description.

Pixeling in the Retrosphere

Timelapse Painting Youtube Videos

These timelapse videos show the process I use to paint pictures on the iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil 2 in ProCreate. They are quick and easy to make because ProCreate is superbly snappy and delightful for quick paintings and I can record the process automatically using the built-in feature in the application.

XEGO Comic Magazine

XEGO Comic Magazine

In 2005 and 2006, I published six issues of the comic magazine XEGO in German called "XEGO" and touted as "the trash comix egozine for the ego shooter generation". The covers were printed in color. The main feature starred Dani-E, the intergalactic go-go dancer, and ran for 16 pages which I produced in color but printed in black-and-white.

Tanim Graphic Novel

Tanim Graphic Novel

From 1998 to 2004, I wrote and drew a long-form comic book called "Tanim: Am Ende der Welt" stretching across more than 200 pages. The story marches towards what is ostensibly the end of the world ("Das Ende der Welt"). It culminates in an all-out slugfest and the sentient planet coming to Earth.