Some of you who are reading this may remember me from Mimic!ASCII. Ive
been a member of Mimic from 2000 and right up until the scene as I knew it
finally collapsed, which was around 2006.
Since the pieces in this pack have very little to do with the logos and the
occasional portrait Ive released in Mimic packs, I felt some explanation
was in order.
All of the ASCIIs collected here date to 2010 and 2011. Ever since Mimic
stopped functioning, I felt like drawing more, and frequently looked at
old artpacks and my own sketches, but for various reasons I never did do
much drawing. The most important reason was that I had realized I could no
longer do things the old way. By that I mean that while drawing pieces
such as this one, from one of the last Mimic packs,
ll M
: l
MjZZL db ::l db
MY j: . . :: :: .gQQp.
jl b /l .. M d+. dj/ : MdjjL
j l: ldlM d7d/ .d. 7:
:l :jZZjtMd7 YQQl .
: lP,. /jj/jjY. A
Y MP /M 7j . Mj jQQ
jj/ . dj/ j/ j QQQQQ,.. ZZZ
* db . . 7
7QgQQp. dj/jjjZ
I would normally think
of a general feeling Id want for this particular ASCII, and Id try to get
that feeling across using shapes and colors, relying on experience, and on
personal taste, formed by studying ASCII art I liked. And sometimes real
life circumstances would interfere and make their mark on a piece, such as
that one time I drew my father after we had a fight, a little angry red
figure with the word Father written near it, and the wish Die! written out
in repeated letters in the background.
This kind of approach was no longer satisfactory. You cant just draw
random words relying on what you like visually, I would tell myself. A
work of art requires much more than just an expression of personal likes,
or feelings. There has to be more: a point, an integrity, a focused
awareness. A work of art can be like a sword that cuts reality: a glimpse
of another world in the cut.
A sword must have a sharp edge to become a weapon like that. You cant see
into another world by just using strong feelings and vague ideas.
Back then, and now still, I thought that there may exist some way to draw
words in a way that reveals their true substances, their many spirits,
their various meanings. Calligraphers in the real world do this with ink,
Brody Neuenschwander being one particularly famous example. But I dont
think anybody ever attempted this in ASCII, or textmode art in general. And
I certainly didnt feel like I could do this: Ive never been that good
in visual arts.
So in late 2010 when the urge to draw some ASCII became really strong,
I ended up doing generative ASCII. I knew it would end up being abstract
art, but at least the processes I would use could end up creating a kind
of complexity Ive never attempted before: layer upon layer of textures,
hidden and semi-hidden action, all kinds of things forming an organic
whole, which has a core... a hidden meaning impossible to explain, but one
that could be experienced through purely visual sensations.
The first piece Ive done was jn-mist. One layer of textmode noise was
taken from a random JPEG file - an image to be used to create another
image. Ive edited the portion Ive selected at random, cut it up,
made it smaller by deleting every 2nd row and every 2nd column, then filled
the remaining space with some characters. After some stretching and
other PabloDraw-based editing, I suddenly arrived at the end result, which
to me looked great, and had this cold, icy feeling I couldnt quite explain.
I tend to think of newschool ASCII textures as extremely pleasant to
the touch, sort of velvety, or warm and fuzzy. So my perception of most
of these generative pieces is also almost tactile. The two gates are smooth
as polished gemstones, Yellow Star is dry and somewhat like cobwebs, and
jn-light feels like a fresh breeze. It is also one of the most complex
pieces here, with something like 5 layers. I suppose if you dont have this
kind of relationship with textmode textures, much of this artwork is quite
On a related note, many of these pieces are best experienced in fullscreen
mode, ideally in ITP or another old editor.
I did several other pieces the same way, and then ended up making two pieces
of software - in Turbo Pascal, the only language I knew to at least some
degree - to generate random textures from whichever ASCII character families
I specified, along with their share in the total.
My Turbo Pascal skills are very basic, so my software wasnt terribly user-
friendly. I believe I distributed a version of it on the Mimic mailing lis
though. If anybodys interested in doing something similar with a normal
user interface and for Windows, let me know.
Some pieces Ive left as they were. Others Ive edited so that they became
figurative artwork - the Three Views of a Pond were all generated, then
hand-colored to become images of water, shadows on water, mud and brackish
water, little patches of grass, and so on. I dont remember altering the
actual characters in any way, yet I really like the results. Ive added
a PNG file with the three views in sequence, the way I think theyre best
The most experimental pieces such as Solution jn-soltn were conceptual
art. In Solution the generated textures were altered by adding little bits
of color here and there, and then maps of these bits of color were drawn
below the actual artwork:
1: Y
2: X
I thought of these as undercurrents you cant see from the surface. Its
quite crazy to me, too. But these are some of my favorite pieces here.
Apart from such generative things there were also the four remixes in
which I tried to give the old remix idea a new spin. jn-osen is a remix of
a semi-abstract artwork by Crahser/Just-X. The basic procedure was to simply
open the original in Notepad, so that I had no idea what I was doing -
the picture was full of ANSI color codes, obscuring the layout in Notepad.
Ive used a generated layer of characters, inserting bits of it here and
there, and then moved bits of the file about, until I came up with an image
that felt like it was much better than the original.
The original ASCII was
about autumn, colors derived from rain water and colder sunlight mine
seemed like it was much more full of energy of autumnal storms and rains.
Incidentally, Crasher was the first ASCII artist to make abstract artwork
using what he called text noise - what I call textmode noise - huge chunks
of random characters.
The three Konami remixes were done in PabloDraw. The idea here was to take
the word remix very literally, and not add any symbols at all - just
move rows and columns around until the result would work somehow. So,
the original ko-123.ans looks like this:
, /b, //ss,. /l ,l 7
/ll, // /s,.,l 7 ,d 7, / ,d ,d 7, ll d7 ,dl7 7, lll /b, 7
l /b, l 7 d
, ll//ss,,.. 7b ,s d
,l ll , /
7 .sss, ,. , ss , ,ll l
l7 ,sSS l7 dll , ll l ,l 7,l
ll l l,l Sl , ,
l l ,d lb, 7 7
7, S ,sSl b, 7l 7
7 7 / ,l l
*/ l7 /,dl l ll ll
l l ,d
l , ,d,s ,S l l
7, ,7 ,d.l l l
7l b,7 l /l l
7 l 7lb,7, ss,,..
7 , 7, 7b,/,7SSSSSl
7 , /s, b,7Sl l l
KONAMI 7l ,,b,/ l l
MIMIC 7 .,/,*// l ll ll
In my version the character remains, but has this terrible look on his face,
angry as hell, and the smile turned into clenched predatory teeth. I believe
I held some grudge against Konami back then... which made me turn the other
ASCIIs into a melting monster with an eyeball and teeth still visible, and
a something that looks like a nasty tadpole with teeth.
I apparently was so impressed with the teeth of the new 123 character that
I added some yellow to make things look more feral.
Said grudge may have contributed to the fact that Ive omitted the original
pieces from the remixes, against the artscene custom. Then again, since the
idea was to do things with just the original rows and columns, it made sense
that way, too.
Although Ive tried to make more ASCIIs after these, Ive managed to
accomplish very little. I still hope to someday release more, and not
necessarily abstract artwork. But these days I have a very different
career, which doesnt leave much time for textmode art.
As a little bonus, Ive added a folder with two newschool ASCII pieces
done in PabloDraws version of Amigas Topaz character set. Although
Amiga artists have tried doing solid shapes like this I remember one
particularly impressive example from one of h2os collections... I think,
this kind of thinking requires a lot of newschool experience, and I dont
know of any newschool ASCII artists who wouldve attempted using Topaz.
jn-milk was released in one of the last Mimic packs, along with some
suggestions on using Topaz 1.3. jn-ami2 has never been released publicly.
With this pack, just as with jn-milk - the last ASCII I releaed with Mimic -
some of my feelings are the same: I hope that the approach may someday
inspire other textmode artists.
- Jashiin