Four questions about asemic writing, #04: Tim Gaze

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

They're 2 separate areas which intersect some of the time. As well as humans deliberately making asemic writing ("practice"), there are many possibilities for accidentally making asemic writing (for which I wouldn't use the term "practice").


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?

Yes, several people are making compositions which they call asemic writing, and many are familiar with each others' work.

I'm partly to blame, for promoting the word "asemic" to describe this kind of work. It has been gratifying to see how my zines grew in size, how popular asemic matters are these days on the internet, and to observe new anthologies being published. Different understandings of the word "asemic" and arguments about its meaning are encouraging signs that this is a healthy, growing community.


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, I agree that there is a movement. (I would also comment that I'm sure the well-known historical art movements were much more fuzzy at the time than later histories would have us believe.) I'm partly responsible, having published 3 issues of an e-zine titled asemic movement. Carlos M Luis of Miami was probably the first person to describe it as a movement, in a letter or email to me. In my mind, the movement is not just about examples of asemic writing; it also has potential to ask us to rethink some fundamental questions such as: What is writing? and What is reading? I hope also that the implications of asemic writing can knock holes in some of the currently accepted literary theory, especially Derrida's ideas about writing.


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?

It depends on how you want to use the term "asemic writing". Personally, I am the most interested in newly invented symbols, but can't deny the other approaches to making wordless writing or illegible writing or writing-like images. Eventually, someone will attempt to separate these into distinct categories, and apply some sort of systematic nomenclature. James Elkins' book The Domain of Images gives a sense of how this might be done. Hopefully, creators will continue to confound any labels or boundaries which arise.


Thanks to Tim Gaze ||

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