I miss ANSI art. In the character-only days of the online world (pre-Web), these text-based graphics had a strangely pop-art quality, with hard edges, digital textures, and bold colors. This is not to be confused with ASCII art, mind you — ANSI art had lots of extra graphical features. Even by the early 1990s, landing on a modem-based BBS with ANSI art felt like leaving the grungy dullness of the country for the Los Vegas strip.

Which brings us to the relevance to this site. I’ve seen lots of cheesy ASCII art filters for video, implemented in environments like Processing, for one. But how about motion graphics with ANSI? Now that’s an interesting challenge. Or, for that matter, given infinite choices, how can you make your own creative constraints to do something essential and artistic? ANSI’s appeal might be purely nostalgic, but it suggests that more power over pixels has sometimes given us less freedom, not more. Something to ponder while you’re coding / editing / visualizing — there’s a chance to make up your own restrictions.

20 goto 10 in San Francisco will feature “ANSI”, curated by Acid Jazz from artists Somms & Lord Jazz.

20 goto 10 gallery page

Rhizome News: Escape Code to the Past