Karsten Schmidt - ASCII-SCAPE #130


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Like for many others growing up during the 1980s & 90s, my very first hands-on encounter with actual computer graphics (outside of games) was in the form of "textmode" and its various alphanumeric characters and other symbols available on the 8bit home computers of that period. These machines were perfectly capable of producing fairly high-resolution & multi-color graphics (all relative), yet most systems booted into an interactive prompt with the so-called textmode as de-facto standard environment, providing a level, if also limited, playing field for the creation of text-based graphics from a patchwork of characters & symbols of a predefined font (system or custom). As is so often the case, limitation is the mother of invention and the regular, monospaced grid and standardized set of characters quickly encouraged an entire subculture of specialized designers & artists to emerge (which is currently being re-discovered & remixed by younger generations), applying & showcasing their creativity (with often surprisingly ingenious skills) in the form of game designs, user interfaces, disk mags, demoscene productions, competitions, flyers, BBSes and even various early Web designs of the mid/late 90s.

ASCII-SCAPE is an attempted non-nostalgic homage to these roots & culture. It is also a textmode-only (no canvas!) rework of my previous piece C-SCAPE. It combines my love of cellular automata with the stripped back aesthetics & limitations of using only text as representation medium of these co-evolving generative systems. It required an almost complete rewrite & re-curation of various elements: 1200+ new handpicked rule combinations, 32 character sets, 40 color themes, new relationships & biases to better manage the resulting textures, densities and contrast.

Although technically not strictly "ASCII" (an actual standard, but also a popular shorthand for "text only"), the entire simulation only uses various Unicode characters and the beautiful Iosevka open source typeface by Renzhi Li aka Belleve Invis.

Like its parent C-SCAPE, this project is dynamic and evolves indefinitely. It's best viewed on non-mobile devices, where there's a decent horizontal resolution to provide sufficient simulation space. Please see the C-SCAPE project description for further details. There's no graphical export feature, but output can be captured into an UTF-8 plain text file (max. 100k lines/generations).

The following keyboard shortcuts are available:

- space : toggle simulation updates (pause/play)
- r : randomize environment
- x : start/stop recording
- f : toggle scroll speed (fast/slow)



Iosevka typeface licensed under OFL-1.1 license



Minting this project will not guarantee inclusion in access lists for future projects.


Made in 2022 with <3 and https://thi.ng


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Date of Mint

July 11, 2022

Date of Acquisition

February 26, 2024