What we find compelling about ASCII drawings is the methodical transcription from source image to scaleless syntax. Notepad is a decidedly specific medium. Some drawings “copy/paste” well, and others are impossible. Rendering a drawing through ASCII involves discrete decisions about resolution, character selection, and legibility. We know these ASCII drawings are text, but how do they communicate architecturally? The ASCII drawings we make in Notepad are strings of 8-bit data, but the formatting generates a recognizable analog image. So are they images or text? Drawings or diagrams? Another way to ask the question might be: Do ASCII drawings communicate character or type?
Our growing collection of ASCII drawings can be read as diagrammatic syntax or pictorial representation. If they communicate type, then they might be read as code. There is grammar; instructions for an unseen ideal. The drawings delineate principles and rules through encoded patterns, such as our drawings of the Parthenon or Pantheon. But at other moments they reveal character. They hold immediate visual effect. They illustrate sensation and, like our ASCII drawings of the Five Orders, should be read as images. The distinction might seem myopic, but we’re intrigued by this ambiguity. Regardless of their status as image or text, ASCII drawings provide a venue to explore issues of abstraction, information, resolution, legibility, data, character, and type... all in 8-bits.