Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Video game textmode art part 18: fANSI, part 1!

I open with mindbombs unrelated to the rest of the post. Sorry, deal with it. Too awesome not to share! I believe that @vectorpoem is the the author of the EDSCII tool whose capabilities are being demonstrated there, so: score for creator promotion. I made some use of the tool myself for an April Fool's art project this year -- it has nice bitmap-to-textmode conversion functionality, albeit s l o w.

So, ANSI art. We all know about its rise to prominence decorating and advertising MS-DOS bulletin board systems, especially underground ones, and when the textmode operating environment fell by the wayside around the same time as affordable home internet access overturned the BBS ecosystem, it went away forever. Right?

What if I were to tell you... sorry, let me try that again...

... that for 20 years, a lost tribe of outsider, uncontacted ANSI artists had continued to practice and hone their art in isolation from the artscene?
(cf. Mario Paint.) The Yanomami here are the crew of 8BITMUSH, a retro-themed offshoot of the MUD (multi-user dungeon) variety of online game / chatroom, which has been hiding in plain sight at ansiart.com where, in the interim, they have tinkered with the ANSI standard to yield FANSI -- not "freehand ANSI" or ANSI art on original subject matter, as the term was (very) rarely used (interchangeably with "FART") back in the '90s artscene, but a new strain of ANSI with all the characters we know and love and a full available 256-colour palette! (Before, the 256 were merely implied by layering the available 16 possible foreground colours with 16 possible background colours ... then further gradiated according to three intensities of intermediary shading.) I gather the tweak involves baking in extended functionality to a terminal program -- ANSI support isn't a big step up from a telnet client, and FANSI support can't be that much more complex, can it?

My initial foray into this world will be fleeting, skimmed from their artist galleries, but Luke Volk, whose images you have seen in earlier posts, is a member of this community and will lead us in a future post through further works of FANSI concealed within the shared hallucination's (the SH in MUSH) inner regions.

It turns out you've already seen a few pieces of FANSI in earlier posts, unearthed through a Google Image search without any context explaining why it looked so peculiar. (That'd be the 256-colour palette, Bob.) But here we have a nice juicy array of them for your viewing pleasure.

I've basically just scraped an artist gallery page celebrating the art of the site, cherry-picking video-game-themed works. Here are two self-portraits by Jinx as as the dog from Duck Hunt -- first, in small-scale ASCII, then in a larger ANSI version (bizarrely, wearing camouflage.)
Next we have couple of works by Mars: first, the Piranha Plant from Super Mario Bros. 1:
Also, a hybrid ANSI/ASCII(/FANSI) hardware profile, of the Zapper light gun for the NES (with which Duck Hunt and, say, Hogan's Alley were played.)
Here are three pieces by Nina: first, David Crane's crowning glory, the Boy and the Blob from A Boy And His Blob:
Also she has drawn a lovely little Bomberman...
And this one, hilariously titled "The Guy From Contra":
Now, a couple of random grab-bag selections -- this is a picture of a Game Boy Advance, by Sassafras:
Here, a very tight-focus small-scale presentation of Super Mario and a "Boo" (a ghost) by Yoda:
And ending this post (though we'll be revisiting FANSI again), a piece with ties to the next instalment of our series -- Riay's rendition of the Red Mage from the Final Fantasy games: