August 2017
A-B-Z-TXT at Gallery 44, Toronto


This ASCII Town commemorates A-B-Z-TXT 2017. Pulling from concrete poetry and typewriter art, the participants created imaginary dwellings using the ASCII character table in this 2.5 hour drawing exercise.

Special thanks to Jon Gacnik
Inspired by Michiel deJong's Cadastre

View ASCII Town


Thursday, August 16

  • 15:30–16:00 — Lecture and Demonstration
  • 16:00–16:30 — Outside
  • 16:30–17:30 — Inside
  • 17:30–18:00 — Presentations



  • Use this online ftp or...
  • Download cyberduck.
  • Download this FTP configuration file.
  • To open, double click the configuration file or drag it into Cyberduck.
    *This workshop is no longer in session, so the file has been removed.
  • When prompted, use the login credentials provided.
  • Congrats! You now have access to ASCII Town.

Getting Started

  • Open any text editor. Examples:
  • Create a file and save it as yourfirstnamelastname.txt.
    • example: mindyseu.txt
    • no spaces
    • lowercase


Each participant will have a house in the A-B-Z-TXT village. Spend the next 30 minutes drawing the exterior of your house using the specifications below.

  • In your text file, draw an image using the characters on your keyboard. Refer to this repository for all ASCII characters
  • Draw the exterior of your house on a plot of land that is within the range of the specifications below.
    • Width: minimum 20 characters, maximum 50 characters
    • Height: minimum 10 lines, maximum 20 lines
    • Include a sign with your name so your friends know which house belongs to you.
  • Drag your text file onto the ASCII Town file server.
  • You can see check out to see your drawing and those of the other participants.
    * When you click on your house, it will lead to a 404. Don’t worry about this for the next 30 minutes. I’ll address it afterwards.

Styles to consider:

  • typewriter
  • line art
  • shading using symbols with various intensities
  • pixel characters using ░ , █ , ▄ and ▀


Now that you’ve drawn your house, let’s decorate the inside.

  • In your text file, write “Outside:” (make sure you include the colon) above the house you drew, followed by a hard line break.
  • Below your house, write “Inside:” followed by a hard line break.
  • Draw the interior of your house. Starting point:
    • rooms
    • paintings
    • plants
    • framed concrete poetry

There are many elements over which you do not have any control. Use these constraints to your advantage!

  • Monospaced font
  • One size (16 pt)
  • One weight (no bold, italicized, etc)
  • One color (black)
  • No links
  • No mark-up
  • No motion
  • There is no width or height restriction for the inside of your house. Use the negative space creatively.
  • Consider creating movement through scale, placement, and scrolling.


Let's visit ASCII town.

Selected Drawings


Photos by Garry Ing