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It's ASCII art. If you're getting into this 80s electro-music revival, you may find yourself looking for some new visual art to complement those crunchy, synthy beats. I invite you to reproduce and frame this nude study of Lucy from Peanuts, a stunning example of ASCII artwork.

ASCII (pronounced "ass-key") is the acronym for American Standard Code for Information Interchange. It is the code computers have used since the 1960s to apprehend text. Back in the early days, some pioneer genius realized that letters and punctuation marks could be carefully clustered to resemble popular images, like this one of Lucy, or Star Trek spaceships, or, more notably, pin-up nudes. With 128 different markings available on a keyboard, any image could be rendered with near-mathematical precision. The discovery was revolutionary.

Prior to ASCII, hack artists like Monet and Seurat were confined to their single "signature brushstroke." Imagine what they might have accomplished with 128 different markings at their disposal! Both painters would also have appreciated the way ASCII's up-close crappiness transforms into proper-viewing-distance awesomeness.

Of course, detractors have argued the medium is simply a lacklustre derivative of concrete poetry. There are obvious parallels, but in a careful and objective comparison, the former excels hands down. Let's look at an example. In a concrete poem about, say, a tree, the poet might use a bunch of words like "branch" and "trunk," but all you really care about is the way those words cleverly form the shape of a tree. An ASCII tree dispenses with all the redundant and corny remarks to concentrate on what's really important: making text accomplish more than it was ever intended to do. See? ASCII is by far the superior art form. Now go frame Lucy.,/b>

- resident oblique humourist, Jon Sasaki


See the adorable Punky Brewster lovingly rendered in ascii characters - and so much more!


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