A post from Rob Manuel:
I like to doodle around with code and I found myself spending two days of my life fiddling with Amstrad BASIC – a platform that’s been obsolete since about 1988, getting it to output stuff that looks like council tiles or bus fabric designs.
There’s something really delightful about returning to a programming language after 30 years and working within the limits of the system and just having fun.
Pretty sure I’ve sat on this
Certain I’ve seen this in the town hall in Wolverhampton
Which tube line is this?
Truth be told I didn’t start from the point of trying to make stuff that looks like bus fabric / council tiles but from thinking about how old computers with limited palettes used to mix colour by placing alternate coloured pixels next to each other.
This was prompted by thinking about Jill Lawson‘s work – a pixel artist who came to minor public fame in the mid 80s where her work was featured in Amstrad Computer User and then she was invited onto Blue Peter.
(If anyone from BBC Archive reads this, please dig out that clip and stick it online.)
BTW: The more I look at this – the more I realise what complete work of art it is. Not just technique but content too. The fine detail, the water, the swans, the plant life contrasted with the teenage boy looking down, absorbed in self. “Look around you! Enjoy the world!” Jill appears to be saying.
Incredibly she only uses four colours, as that’s what the computer could display in 320×200 but her choice of palette and colour mixing gave the illusion of many more.
I had to zoom in on this image to believe there’s only one yellow in it.
So I wrote some code to mix colours and did it on an Amstrad emulator because that had a certain purity about it and this was the result:
But then whilst fiddling I started sending it different characters than simply the hash one and quite liked the results.
It also produces stuff that reminds me of swimming pool tiles:
Anyway – here’s the type-in if you want to have a play. And yeah it’s a type-in because I think offering a type-in is amusing in 2018, and partly because my head has been filled with this stuff through running @yorecomputer.
(And there’s two errors in that listing – line 210 twice and the instructions are wrong about the ‘a’ key – that should be the ‘i’ key.)
And what have I learnt from coding BASIC 30 years later? GOSUBS are just as unreadable as any GOTO. But playing in text modes is just fun, and it has a distinct look to it, or aesthetic as the kids say today.
And then as now I like to just go where the code takes me. I started with wanting to stipple and ended with bus seats.
And finally – let’s just show some more output shall we?
I love generative stuff. Ordered randomness. It’s what the bots are, it’s what this is. I like nothing better than plonking a few rules together and pressing GO and seeing what comes out.