For those who have a fascination for ASCII art and at the same time love to loiter the virtual streets on Google Street view, here is your ultimate dream come true. Peter Nitsch of Teehan+Lax has developed Google Street View in ASCII that lets you explore any place on the planet where Google Street View is available in colored ASCII art. The rendering happens in real time and in your browser, so you will need one that supports WebGL textures such as Chrome or Firefox.
You can search for any location and then move around the streets by clicking on the small map inset on the top right. You can’t click on the ASCII street view to change view like you do on the actual Street View. However you can pan around with your mouse and zoom in and out using the mouse wheel. Try zooming into the scene to improve the resolution and clarity of the picture.
One of the main reasons ASCII art was born was because early printers often lacked graphics ability and thus characters were used in place of graphic marks. What was a technological constraints in the 1970s and 80s, became an artform in the twenty-first century “by the same hacker ethos that build the early machines used to produce and view it”, writes the creator of Google Street View ASCII. “Fundamentally, it is both an expression and prisoner of the system it inhabits. This latest experiment attempts to free ASCII art from the confines of the screen and enable it to exist in physical space – with light and paint.”