Four questions about asemic writing, #03: Nico Vassilakis

1. Do you think the practice of asemic writing is something different from visual poetry? Or a part of it?

What I think, and thanks for asking, is that the crux of asemic WRITING is illegible writing that holds no semantic meaning and that the writing is concerned with creating difficulty for the reader and their engagement with text. More importantly, it intends to distract the reader long enough to remind her, she is SEEING text. What the text, the content of the text, is saying is of no consequence. It is an alternative to seeing writing and reading seeing. This idea, for the most part, is an outcropping of visual poetry, which is an outlier of concrete poetry.


2. Asemic texts appeared often here and there over the course of the 20th century. Then, at the very beginning of the 21st, it seemed that a consistent part of artists/writers, all over the world, started focusing on it. It isn't the occasional appearance of asemics in a wider context of art, but it seems now a specific practice or current. Do you agree?

What were scattered examples of asemic WRITING in the 20th century have now exploded into the early 21st. To my mind, that is really only answered by the availability of affordable computers and devices and the ease at which we communicate. Yes, there is a cohesion of like-minded practitioners and a populated on-ramp of new asemniks. This is an exciting time for poets/people who want to undermine the existing social text that surrounds them by creating and reveling in the new SUBJECTIVE ILLEGIBLE.


3. Some authors think it can be said that something like an actual asemic “movement” is rapidly (or slowly?) growing. Do you think so? Or do you think there’s simply a wide constellation of different individuals, far from being defined a movement?

Yes. It is a movement, a nano trend, that gathers momentum, that follows one direction. Can it sustain itself? Probably, but it will need intention to grow. I have difficulty seeing where it can go, what ground it will explore, but I have to say, I'm very interested in its future.


4. Anthologies, exhibits and web pages collect very different kinds of asemic works. Some of them resemble scribbles and calligraphy, so they fit the definition of “writing”. Others do not, since they include recognizable letters and symbols, or abstract art. Do you think asemics can include these areas or not?

Moving away from asemic WRITING toward asemic art is inevitable, but complicates the definition, as is evidenced by facebook comment threads regarding this subject. Anything can happen, and it will.


Thanks to Nico Vassilakis ||

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