Cover of four-page asemic book by David-Baptiste Chirot (Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA)
When I first began creating rubBEings I had a vision – a kind of deep emotional visual thinking – which I longed to convey. But I did not know if I would ever be able to realize it. I wanted to express that vision in a way that conveyed what I was experiencing at the edge of and outside of words, letters and language.
I kept trying to realize that vision until one day when I was making art working on a telephone pole. I was surrounded by a street gang that later killed one of my friends. At the time various people were living in a nearby building later condemned by the city. I lived on the top floor that was reserved for homeless people and spent a whole winter there. Snow came in the broken windows and killed mice, which terrified the psychotic patients that shared the floor with the homeless.
I was working away on the telephone pole and suddenly when I was making a stroke with a lumber crayon on cheap notebook paper I realized I was crossing a line. I was no longer just making markings but actually doing what I had envisioned but had not been sure I could achieve before. Now I was achieving it. In that one stroke I changed from being a wanderer to having a vocation: visual poetry, writing, sound poetry – the rest of my existence here.
– David Chirot
Inner pages of asemic book by David Chirot
“For Bob Cobbing – in the snow” by David Chirot (remix)
“Asemic Tree” by Laura Ortiz (Toronto, Canada)
Asemic Front contributor Laura Ortiz has kindly granted permission for me to share this breakthrough piece that has garnered so much acclaim elsewhere. This Instant Classic synthesis of asemics and visual poetry is a perfect addition to the Asemic Front project. Here are some detail studies of “Asemic Tree” by Laura Ortiz:
“Cover for an as yet unnamed asemiac book” by David Chirot (Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA”
Asemic Front expands its depth and breadth today with these three asemic pieces by poet, writer and visual poet David Chirot.
AF visitors are likely to be already familiar with the legendary Chirot (also known as David Baptiste-Chirot). I am of the opinion – shared with many others – that he transformed visual poetry in the late 20th century (at a time when it was languishing) and is now a key figure in the post-literature of the 21st century. I am thrilled at long last to be able to provide a platform for his work.
While a master of the image (visual syntax), Chirot’s work has long contained what is now called asemic symbols and texts. In fact, he was among the early asemic pioneers – Jim Leftwich and Tim Gaze come to mind also – who anticipated that asemics and image-oriented visual poetry would merge to become a genre (or subgenre). As a result, Chirot has developed an original and distinctive asemic (anti-)language that, paradoxically, is deeply expressive.
“Striker rubBEing” by David Baptiste-Chirot
However, despite the fact that he is also a literary theorist of consequence, Chirot has not engaged in the often angry debates about asemic writing that have been so divisive in the international visual poetry community. So I want to make sure AF readers do not assume Chirot is taking positions here when, in fact, I am featuring his work on Asemic Front due to its importance and what I see in it. He has kindly allowed for the presentation of pieces that are fundamentally asemically “purist.”
Indeed, Chirot’s wordplay that I have kept intact – “asemiac” and “asemniac” (amnesiac) – shows a playful or even satirical view of the ever-so-serious subject of asemic writing. While – beyond a doubt – he has an intellectual understanding of the asemic enterprise, Chirot’s iconic “RubBEings” are simply a natural medium for the generation of asemic symbols, syntax and forms. His artistic process produces distortions and deconstructions of the language he finds in his environment and which provides much of his subject matter. I believe asemic conceptualism is simply inherent and thus natural in his work.
“Asemniac rubBEing” by David Chirot
“Asemniac rubBEing” by David Chirot (remix by DVS)
“I am an immigrant and I am not going back” by Stephen Perkins (2017)
Stephen Perkins has made significant contributions to the cultural landscape in general and the post-avant and alternative culture in particular. He is widely known for his association with the Janet Janet identity, Box of Water and Schism classic zines as well as the Festival of Plagiarism, Artstrike and many other historic events and projects. He was a longtime residence of San Francisco and now lives in Madison, Wisconsin (USA). See Ruud Janssen’s interview with Stephen Perkins for more information:
On a recent visit to Prague, Perkins took a remarkable series of photos. I am very pleased he granted permission to share some with Asemic Front. These are textually oriented street shots from Prague. With a brilliant eye, Perkins has identified asemics and visual poems of extraordinary power in the everyday. His titles give the series added cohesion and prove – again – that visual poetry can function effectively as political poetry.
“Stop the Trump fake news machine with bullets of truth”
“Something is so so wrong that Trump could say what he did about women and still get elected”
“I guess I am still shocked that we have this total nut job at the helm” by Stephen Perkins (2017)
“You can hardly even make this shit up”
“Stop Trump by any means necessary”
“Sad to be leaving this beautiful city of Prague and yes ‘Fuck you Donald Trump'” by Stephen Perkins (2017)
Eco-Asemics in Moravia, New York, USA
During the Asemics 16 collaborative book project several years ago, participants discussed many different ideas about asemic writing online. In particular, many pictures of natural phenomenon were posted that suggested language and textuality. They were presented to help define a shared concept of asemics. Either little or no human intervention was involved in these asemic finds, other than the artists seeing the texts/and symbols in nature, a use of imagination.
This type of asemics became so prevalent and interesting in our discussions that they were named: Eco-Asemics. As in this post, the primary means of sharing Eco-Asemics is through photography and video. Certainly other possibilities exist. Eco-Asemics are inherently Found Asemics; however, Found Asemics frequently involve human activity and even human desecration of nature.
Eco-Asemics examines nature and natural processes as removed from the impact of “civilization” as much as is possible. Thus, Eco-Asemics explores the archaic roots of language, symbols and written text as it surely connects to human contact with nature. I construct this definition based on the path followed by artists and writers who become more and more involved in Eco-Asemics. They are drawn often – certainly not always though – toward a reverence for and communion with nature. Many who investigate Eco-Asemics have said they gain insight into the primal origins of language and sign-making. They experience can have a profound impact upon their work.
Note the human presence in this pic:
Found Asemic Vispo by James Santamour (photo taken in Syracuse, New York, USA)
Asemics by Wendy A. Rodgers (Maryland, USA)
The art of Wendy A. Rodgers is known primarily through the Eternal Network, and she has garnered many admirers. I have written about her work before, focusing on pieces that integrate the decomposition of material “art” and the process of decay. This recent piece, in the form of a large postcard, is more text-centered than previous work. Essentially, I believe Wendy A. Rodgers has presented a brilliant variant on my concept of “Deconstructive Asemics” that was explained early in Asemic Front:
I will not speculate about how Wendy Rodgers achieves decomposition in her work. This is not, strictly speaking, Gustav Metzger’s Auto-Destructive Art. Instead, I have compared Wendy Rodgers’ work to the aesthetics of Japanese Gutai; Gutai is well-known in the Eternal Network. Rodgers arrests or suspends the process of decay so that we may contemplate it.
The piece being displayed here functions on a tactile as well as visual level. It has raised contours and appears to be extremely weathered and distressed. As a result, the text has become distorted. That is the center of asemic interest. The art, though, is not crumbling to bits. Here is a view of one side of the card:
Here are some detail shots that more clearly reveal the textual distortion through the literal decomposition of the text:
Veteran mail artist Richard Canard produces an impressive amount of visual poetry, poetry and asemics. I have also previously written that while Richard Canard is currently recognized as an authentic practitioner of the styles and sensibilities of Ray Johnson’s New York Correspondance School, Canard’s post-avant literary contributions should not be overlooked. I will close with a wonderful example of decomposition by Richard Canard that complements Wendy Rodgers:
Asemics by Richard Canard (Illinois, USA)