ASCII Artwork, The Lost Art Form put to a Funky Beat…

ASCII art, the art of using alpha-numeric characters to form images emerged during the early days of computing, both seeming to evolve together. From the early mainframe days through to the home computer revolution ASCII art was there.

The ASCII character set itself is simply an agreed upon arrangement of all alpha-numeric characters, think of it as the alphabet for computers.

Presented for your viewing pleasure are the latest and greatest examples of ASCII artwork in animated form. The graphics are generated using characters alone, the music is retro but that soul is still there,. This is artwork for the technologically inclined. Sit back, relax and enjoy the flashback to an art form that time forgot…

The earliest examples of the ASCII art were created using mechanical typewriters that first appeared in 1863, at the time it was called keyboard art. One of the first examples was completed in 1898, an image of a butterfly constructed from patterns of characters by Flora Stacey.

Butterfly by Flora Stacey, 1898.
Butterfly by Flora Stacey, 1898.

During the early days of computing almost immediately after the established of the ASCII character set (American Standard Code for Information Interchange, 1963) people started to use the characters to form works of art on the computers of the day. This partly grew out of the inability of printers (dot matrix) and computers to draw graphics, clever arrangements of characters had to suffice. But it also grew out of the need for expression, a very human trait.

The early days of home computing also saw an explosion of ASCII art, again partly due to the limitations of the first home computers. Although its popularity was actually due to the fact that people liked the look and style, it was the nerd art form of choice. Hackers and pirates at the time began including ASCII art with games they distributed, a kind of calling card.

Even now the art form lives on, sure it isn’t as popular as it was in the 80’s but the ASCII artwork tradition continues. In recent years the greatest example of ASCII animation has to be the BB ASCII Demo. This is a proper old school demo done in the same spirit present during the early days of computing, as much a form of artistic expression as it was self promotion.

Star Wars Asciimation With Sound

highpants-ascii-art-zebraProducing your own ASCII art is now as simple as using a conversion program or website (ASCII Art Generators), they do an excellent job of converting anything into ASCII animation. We’re not sure if converting other peoples video to ASCII footage counts as producing ASCII art but they do look really cool, hypnotic almost. Here at Highpants our favourite movie conversion has to be the hand crafted master peace that is the Star Wars ASCII Movie, an animation so bad it is incredible.

Some very creative coders have even assembled ASCII games that are impressive demonstrations in creativity. With full 3D engines that render out using the ASCII characters they have a retro charm to them.

ASCII artwork is an eye catching art form that has evolved along side the technology used to create it, a seemingly geeky art form that is far cooler than it was ever given credit for.

Blaine’s ASCII Text Effect (ASCII Art)

Bergensbanen i ascii art