• What lives down the ASCII art rabbit hole? [Competition post 2]

    By Peter Law -

  • 74

Oh no. I’ve fallen down another rabbit hole.

         __      __                  .___                   .__            .___
        /  \    /  \____   ____    __| _/___________  _____ |__| ____    __| _/
        \   \/\/   /  _ \ /    \  / __ |/ __ \_  __ \/     \|  |/    \  / __ |
         \        (  <_> )   |  \/ /_/ \  ___/|  | \/  Y Y  \  |   |  \/ /_/ |
          \__/\  / \____/|___|  /\____ |\___  >__|  |__|_|  /__|___|  /\____ |
               \/             \/      \/    \/            \/        \/      \/

Does this happen to you? When you’re online and you start looking at one thing (say, some facts you have to know about) but as you’re finding out about them you spot something else interesting along the way and before you know it you’re looking at that, and then you spot something else and start looking at that instead. Me and my friends call that ‘falling down a rabbit hole’, after Alice in Wonderland.

When you fall down a rabbit hole you find some weird and wonderful things. One of the most most wonderful and also most weird things I’ve found out about is called ‘ASCII art’. Have a look at this (if it just looks like a big pile of letters and numbers and symbols you may need to stand back from the computer a bit and have a look from further away):

                                                     ``....`
                                                  -oydhsy/--o+:-.
                                                :so--:-/.       `:/
                                               :mmhyNMd+---.  ..  /h.
                                               hMy//oy. :+/.` .--``+h`
                                              `mh`     ```/+/`-.os:.o+
                                              `N+          `` `./so.-y`
                                              -Mdo.  ```      --:y:.`s.
                                              omMMy``ymdy/.  /:syy..:+o`
                                             `hmMmy  +NNdh:  `/md-   /-:`
                                             .mNMyo.` `-.`    -yd.  ```--
                                             `dMNhsd:-        +y/.`/-`:+o`
                                    -:.      `hN+hmNh+       /od-./o..-dds.
                              `:+o+hNNo     `sNy.hNm:``..-:++` ds --`:ydo:o:
                            ./shymmMNy:    `/yssohNMNmmmmyo-   hh`/ --yy/+/d/.
                          -/:`-o/dMMdy`   `/+mdosMmNMds+yy/` ``y+``/y/hdddyh+h.
                       `-+:./s-:dMMMN/-` -ymhNN:sMNho+.`/:-:...s+`.ho+h/.:hysms/`
        `.:-         `:+-.:s/:yyNMMMN:`/-NMmsmdsddyh/:.``..``.`s+-/o-o. `.-/ohhmy:`
        -:+-`      .-:.oo/:-.+yNmMMhs: /.sNmdosmMh/:..-:-....`:m+s//h/..s+/++oymmy+
        ::-:-     ++`+//o+``+-sNNMM/`` +-.ymouseMs+:``-.`    ./hmy/.h:/+o/-.-+dmdhy+`
        ::-+:`  ` .++/+y/`.+``omNm/yo  `+.`omNhNm:``  .`     yyos-ssmmdmh+:yyymhmo:m-
        :/::/. .```  `-d::/`  `.-. `s:  `/:`hdmNMh:/:---`   ./-s/hNNNhooy+sNdNhNN/`ho
        .//-/+   ````  -/-          .y:   :ymdmNMNs/--.``   `-o--NMMh-    `yymsss+ -y/
         :.:/o`..                    :h-   oNmNmNyyy:`---`  .+`-+mNdmy/-   o+Nm: :+``-.
        .-/++y+o` ``.`                /h:  +myNMMNdo.   .::.--///+/-...`   o-s/+ .oo
       ``-o:/s++-`-:`.``               :hs-mhmMMMMh+-.`  -.              .-s`` .  ``
         `..````` ```:::/::-...-------.`.osmMNmhyMMhyyo//ss:::-..````````-//
         `   ``      -....-` ````````..-:-.//-..hMMNd+.` .:+hNNmmmmdyo+//:.
         `  ````  ``     `  ````.----:+soh`  `:dMNMdy-  /hNMMMMMMNNooho+++/-`
      -/+/+++++/:::::://///++oosyhdysyddo-  -yNMMdh..``+NMMMMMMMh:y+-:o+:://:-`
      syhddddhhysosoooooooos+osssoyhhyN/` -sNMNNM+-``:yNMMMMMNNd-.:oo:++:-:.`-+/`
       oodmmhys/:----.........--.-/oss/.ohdNMMNNN. `:.smMouse:y. -`-+o/-`-/-``-/:`
      +hddoy+hdydmdhyymmddmmmdy+/+/yd-`yMmNNNNhNd` `-:-ymhss/:`:` :.`.+ss. -//----/:`
      dyh+/o/hhhdmdmhoNMMNNsNdhy/s/m-`.NMNmmNm/:h`  `.ydo::.```+: `/:``-os-..-:/:-.-/-
      hsy-dm+hNmhmmms+hMMMh md+: :-+``/NNssdmm:`-/    .hh:`   /o.  .::` `/oo```.:o:-.+o.
      dMo-hs/hmNdmNmy:sNMMs`+Nh/-/y.`smNNNd:/d+-`+.    `:o+-.-/..`  .-:  `/oy: ``:y/-.-//`
      dN..y//yNNyNNmhsdNMMs.`mds+y++sdhMNNh``/+-.:/  ``   ````  .`   -:.  .:hs-` ``oo.` -/-`
      ym.-y+/:dmhmyyhsyMMMs/`dos-s/yssmMNo.``:y   .````       .-/:`  ..+`  `:y+/   `/o`.``-/-
      /d`-yso/yhmmhdh+yNMM+. h/h-odhmhdhy/` .yh`   ``.`      `:o/.   .:::  .`/ho--  `-+:--.`-+.
      .h :dh+osymNhysssNMM+- y/d-oNsh+yyy+` `/oo`   `..      ./:`     /-o` `.-+s:-`  `.s-`-:`-//`
      -h ohosddmmhmhmdoMMN++.y:h-+Noy+h+-`   .:y+`  .`        :/`     --s:  `/-/yh+   .:y. .+-:- .
      .y`yddyyddyymhNhyMMd/-`y.y.+h/sd+:`    .``   `.     ` ` ...``   `--h-  `:.ohh-   ``+``---  o
      `y.hhmyoyshNNNoyoNN+/``y.s./hyso``    ```    ..     -.```. `     ``ss   `-.yms- `  : +/.- -/`
      `y.mmmousedmdyydydh-/ `y.s./ymmo-...``````   `      `-`          .-:+.    -:ydh:/` .-ss/``+/
      `y.hsmdddhdhmmdNdhs././y.s`:NmNdhsoo+//:---:-``.`` `   `````..---:.`y/    `.odNh:-`...+y/-./.
      `y-++NdddmMmdmhdyys./..h`s`:MMNNMs:oNMMdoyhhyo+//:---.--.-::::/+oo++s` ``  ..odhy.`-. `ss--.
      `y-/sNdhNNNmNNmhhyo./ :d`s`:MMNNh-/oMMm::+/:/+soss//dmNs/-:::-----:/.:`.` `  -+yyo.  `-.+.
      `y-omNNmNdNmMMMNdyo.+ /h`s`:MmMd-`oNmm:`.:-/+--```  hMN-` `` `.--://-.`````. -.oss+` ``.-`
      `h:hd+dNNhMMNMMMMso.+` s`s`:hmNy/ohMms.  ..-:-` ``` hMN/ .-.`....```..```  ``-o.-+--:-.`
      `h/syssNysNNdMMNhso.s-`s`s :ssy::oNMo.-.```--.`  `  yMMy::--...``    ` ````...+
      `d/osshNddNNNMmmNso`++.y`s :- `..:yd+/-.`.`.-.` ``. hMMh....``.--..  .```.---.`
      `m:shodmNdNmMNNdNo+`os`y`s :-``....-:/::::://:-...`.hMNd:-----.:/:. ``..```
      `m`ohsdoyhNNmdNmds+`yo-y`s :-+-:+/:`.+/-`` `:``-yNmmMMMNhsshdNmNd.``.`/.` . `
      `h`-/ys.-mdNNdMNho/`o+yh`s :--/+:-.--s--`-.-..  .NdmMMMMMmdddMdmN/.`:-//..`--`
      `s  /+::omdNNmmhNs/`dydh`s :-/ods++-hdohs+..:.   smNmMousessmhho/-`-s.+.:/ /
      `o` `./osyNNhyydNs-.hyhh`s ::+ydhsmshyoshs.-.. ``.mNNNNmhoy+:/+.`:-s- ``
      `o   `+ymdmouseNNs`.Ndmd.s`::/ohssmhyhsoyysy.    `omNmmdh.+y.    -- ``
      `o  `-dyhyhhhyhmNo.:mMmNys.:+//+.`-.-.`..-..`  ` ``+yhdyh``yy`   .:
      `o  ---.+/:--::/d+/+omdNds.:hys+--/--:.....`  `    sddomd` .d:   `:
      `o    ./+++o/:/ys:.`-o:dhs`:ohddmNNmdyo+::```      s+o`sh-  :m:   /
      `s     `..:++od+-``..`-yhs `  `.:+soyhshhdmdho+/../ddho+No  `d+   --
      `y-           `:--::---dNd            ````/+ooyhNs:` .oNMm-``ddo-`.+
       +s` ``.-..`           dMd                  `/dMMds-/ymNNNNhdN+..:/m/
        .so/.`-:::.`        -dh/`o.              `yNNdhs+/-``.-:/yNy:--:hMd`
      `::////-//os:--:-.``  ohooo/o               `.-..`        :mmmddyyd+.
      `-:+yo+//+so/.-ohyhdsyhdmy-./+.                          `hNys+//-`
             .. .+o++++:+d+oomo``.-o//                           ```
                   ```/+--osso:::://:`
                       `-.o-  ``

It’s a picture of Alice! I’m sure you noticed it’s made out of symbols and letters and numbers. Down in my rabbit hole this is what we call ‘ASCII art’ (pronounced ‘Ask – ee’). ASCII art pictures work because your brain is very good at seeing patterns. That’s why you see Alice when you look at the picture, not just a pile of symbols. If you think about it paintings they’re just blobs of paint on a canvas, but when we look at them too we see pictures of things and not just the paint.

ASCII art is pictures made from only these letters and numbers and symbols (which – geeky fact – we call the ASCII character set):

                  1234567890
                  abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz
                  ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
                  ! "#$%&'()*+,=./;:<=>?@ [\]^_`{|}~

Do you know why people started making pictures using only these characters? Because not so many years ago many on computers, or at least many computer programmes, there were NO PICTURES! Can you imagine? If you wanted to write a story and add a picture you had to draw it in ASCII art. The history of ASCII art is a lovely one, full of creativity, creaky old technology like typewriters, bad jokes and wonderful pictures (there is a link to a webpage at the end of the post that will tell you about the history of ASCII art and to a site which has lots of cool ASCII art pictures for you to look at).

You probably already use simplest form of ASCII art – emoticons. They’re those little smiley faces you put on text messages and emails and things when you want to show what you’re feeling.

                  :) Happy
                  :( Sad
                  :D Laughing
                  :| Not sure
                  (you have to look at these sideways to see the little
                  smiley face)

There are lots and lots of them (there’s a big list here).

In my next post I’ll show you how to make your own ASCII art and some really cool other things with letters and numbers and stuff.

**COMPETITION**

Meanwhile I mustn’t forget the puzzle competition. Remember, there’s one puzzle at the end of each of the four ‘Rabbit Hole’ posts. Write your answer for each puzzle in the comments. Then, when you have all four answers, email them to kids@tate.org.uk. If you’ve got the answer right you could win an iMac! GOOD LUCK!

The second puzzle clue is this. Somewhere in the picture above I’ve hidden the name of one of the characters from Alice in Wonderland. What is it?

Links

History of ASCII art
(One of my favourite bits is the typewriter art. If you think about typewriters, they’re like highly-efficient computers with built in printers that don’t need any power. How innovative!)

A MASSIVE collection of ASCII art pictures

Discussion Area

  1. mouse

    cara - January 19, 2012

  2. Mouse

    Tom Donaldson - January 19, 2012

  3. Mouse

    conor - January 21, 2012

  4. mouse

    Eve - January 24, 2012

  5. Mouse

    Frode - January 30, 2012

  6. IT IS MOUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Martha - January 30, 2012

  7. Mouse!

    Clemmie - January 30, 2012

  8. Mouse

    Maya Williams - January 30, 2012

  9. Mousè

    Ruben - January 30, 2012

  10. mouse

    alex - January 31, 2012

  11. It’s mouse!

    Georgina - February 1, 2012

  12. MOUSE :)

    Megan - February 1, 2012

  13. Mouse

    Jessica Pugh - February 4, 2012

  14. Ozymandias!

    I mean, Mouse!

    David A - February 4, 2012

  15. MOUSE

    Geor Geor - February 5, 2012

  16. It’s Mouse!

    Louise - February 5, 2012

  17. Mouse

    Dami - February 5, 2012

  18. Mouse

    Chloe - February 5, 2012

  19. Mouse – 5 February, 2012

    Geraint Starr - February 5, 2012

  20. Mouse

    Geraint Starr - February 2012 - February 5, 2012

  21. Mouse

    Holly Winship - February 5, 2012

  22. Mouse

    Maddy o'sullivan - February 6, 2012

  23. Mouse

    Rachel Madeley - February 6, 2012

  24. Mouse

    Claire Sanderson - February 7, 2012

  25. Mouse

    Gemma - February 7, 2012

  26. A MOUSE.

    Abby Glynn - February 8, 2012

  27. Mouse

    Eleni Harfoot - February 9, 2012

  28. mouse

    zara - February 10, 2012

  29. Mouse

    Joanna Thorpe - February 10, 2012

  30. Mouse

    MazyP - February 10, 2012

  31. Mouse

    Daniella - February 10, 2012

  32. Mouse

    Bryony Hickson - February 11, 2012

  33. Mouse

    peta - February 11, 2012

  34. Mouse

    jessica - February 11, 2012

  35. Mouse

    Anna Tomlinson - February 11, 2012

  36. Mouse

    Anna Roberts - February 11, 2012

  37. Mouse

    Rhys Kilby - February 12, 2012

  38. MOUSE!

    luke kramer-gallery - February 12, 2012

  39. Mouse

    Adele Poxon - February 12, 2012

  40. Mouse

    Lewis - February 12, 2012

  41. Mouse

    adam - February 12, 2012

  42. Mouse

    Matthew Menton - February 12, 2012

  43. Mouse

    alex moffat - February 12, 2012

  44. Mouse

    Kristen Stearn - February 13, 2012

  45. mouse

    steveb - February 14, 2012

  46. Mouse

    Bridie Iris Stocks, aged 9. - February 14, 2012

  47. Mouse

    Caroline Doyle - February 14, 2012

  48. Mouse

    Sonny Nye Meredith - February 15, 2012

  49. Mouse

    Janette - February 16, 2012

  50. mouse

    liam bristow - February 16, 2012

  51. Mouse x

    Alexis Pettie - February 17, 2012

  52. mouse

    Lois dickerson - February 17, 2012

  53. Mouse

    Leo Adlam - February 17, 2012

  54. Mouse

    Eloise Adlam - February 17, 2012

  55. Mouse

    Ellie Metcalfe - February 19, 2012

  56. Mouse

    Charlotte Perkins - February 19, 2012

  57. Mouse

    Jackie Goldston - February 20, 2012

  58. Mouse

    Tamzin Myburgh - February 20, 2012

  59. Mouse

    Harry Pugh - February 20, 2012

  60. MOUSE

    Elaine Skidmore - February 21, 2012

  61. MOUSE

    lilly-faye - February 21, 2012

  62. Mouse

    Ryan Cinato - February 21, 2012

  63. Mouse

    Amina - February 21, 2012

  64. Mouse

    Thomas Randle - February 23, 2012

  65. mouse.

    kirsty james - February 24, 2012

  66. Mouse

    Hanna Dunleavy - February 25, 2012

  67. Mouse

    Sophie Corbett - February 26, 2012

  68. Mouse

    Harry Chadwick - February 26, 2012

  69. mouse

    Luke Kearsley - February 26, 2012

  70. Mouse

    Jack Monkeyboy - February 27, 2012

  71. mouse

    sonya ritchie - February 27, 2012

  72. Mouse

    Max J - February 27, 2012

  73. mouse

    cameron aldridge - February 29, 2012

  74. Mouse

    WillH - June 3, 2012