The purpose of this text is to give a brief overview of ASCII, ANSI, PETSCII, Shift-JIS and Unicode art and how these concepts have been shaped by technology, culture and aesthetics, to discuss alternative categories for text graphics that can be relevant also in the future, when these character encodings have possibly been made obsolete.
In what follows I am going to introduce and meditate upon three of the text related artworks—one a digital image, one a video and one a series of themed paintings—which I have been making over the past few years.
This article traces the evolution of moving text as a stylistic element of “crack intros” and “computer demos” between 1984 and 1992, from a simple line moving from right to left at the bottom of the screen to massive 3D letters free-floating in space.
Keys of Fury is brutalist storytelling about technology and keystrokes, and an artistic statement based on the concept, research and practice of KYBDslöjd, which I define as “drawing and crafting by type in”.
It is relatively seldom that the contemporary computer user comes across text mode graphics. In recent years, though, the aesthetic of text mode art has experienced a rebirth: one can buy ASCII logos printed on t-shirts, ANSI art gets featured on album covers, and some of the most proficient artists from the 1990s are making impressive comebacks.