Google Street View Panoramas, Done Retro-Style in ASCII

Back before iPhones and cars, all pictures on the internet were created using ASCII characters. And now you can go back to those good old days with a new art project from Teehan+Lax Labs that turns Google Street View into a gorgeous, ever-changing ASCII landscape. It's surprisingly mesmerizing. Go look at it now.

Coder and designer Peter Nitsch says of his strange experiment, partly inspired by William Gibson's description of cyberspace:

It's no secret that – in some eternal quest to palliate my nostalgia – I've developed a mild obsession with text-mode art. Years ago, I learned all the relavent algorithms, techniques, and code pages in order to best simulate text-mode in modern browsers – an effort that resulted in (long since abandoned) projects like ASCIImeo and Flashterm. Recent explorations in bridging the digital-physical divide (plus a sense of withdrawal) have caused me to revisit image-to-text conversion with a quick experiment.

For many of us that have grown up with computers, text-mode art represents something deeper than nostalgia. It is an artform manifested from technological constraints, inspired by the same hacker ethos that build the early machines used to produce and view it. Fundamentally, it is both an expression and prisoner of the system it inhabits.

Dive deeper on the ASCII Street View website.