Asemic Front Collabs by Gerda Osteneck & De Villo Sloan

3.31.2018 - 4r1 (AF1)Asemic visual poetry collab by Gerda Osteneck (Saskatchewan, Canada) & De Villo Sloan (New York, USA)


Canadian artist and correspondent Gerda Osteneck mailed me an envelope of artist’s ephemera that included carefully considered collage material. That inspired these Asemic Front collabs, and I assume the core images were created by Gerda.

She is a wonderful artist. I know she is familiar with visual poetry and asemic writing; however, I am not sure she ever consciously intended to be part of the Asemic Front project. I am also not sure Gerda Osteneck is used to the amount of digital manipulation and glitching you find here. So I beg her indulgence and thank her profusely for joining us on Asemic Front.



Gerda dvs 3.30.2018 - 2 (AF2)

By Gerda Ostenck and De Villo Sloan



gerda dvs 3.30.2018 - 7h1



gerda dvs 3.30.2018 - 41By Gerda Osteneck and De Villo Sloan



3.31.2018 - 7



3.31.2018 - 6h

By Gerda Osteneck and De Villo Sloan



3.31.2018 - 3



Asemic front poster - 3.11-11






Asemic Mud: Collabs by Chris “Mudhead” Reynolds & De Villo Sloan (Arizona & New York, USA)

Mudhead - 11.23.2017 - 12aCollab by Chris Reynolds aka Mudhead (Payson, Arizona, USA) and De Villo Sloan (Auburn, New York, USA)


A package of mail art received from Chris “Mudhead” Reynolds provided the inspiration for these Asemic Front collabs. In addition to being a very talented artist, Mudhead is a superb visual poet whose work enters the domain of asemics. I have been looking forward to doing AF collaborative work with Mudhead for a long time, so this is a great opportunity. I hope you enjoy the results too.



11.22.2017 - 4 - very good



Mudhead - 11.18.2017 - 10a

“Mud Glyph #1” by Mudhead and De Villo Sloan


Mudhead - 11.18.2017 - 10

Foundation piece by DVS for Mudhead-De Villo Sloan collabs


11.22.2017 - 6 - excellent

“Asemic Mud” collab by Mudhead & DVS


11.22.107 - 1 - good



Mudhead - 11.18.2017 - 2

Foundation piece for “Asemic Mud” collabs by Mudhead


Mudhead - 11.18.2017 - 11a

“Mud Glyph #2” by Mudhead and DVS


Mudhead - 11.18.2017 - 7

Foundation piece by DVS for Mudhead-De Villo Sloan collabs


Mudhead - 11.18.2017 - 4

Mudhead typed-over by De Villo Sloan




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“Caligrafia” & More Asemic Visual Poetry by Laura Ortiz (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

“Ancient Knowledge” by Laura Ortiz (Toronto, Canada)


Laura Ortiz is producing spectacular visual-textual compositions. She is already highly regarded in the asemic writing community. You can find her work at venues including Michael Jacobson’s New Post-literate and the venerable I am thrilled to share this selection of her work at Asemic Front and look forward to the possibility of posting more of her work in the future.

“Online Caligrafia” by Laura Ortiz

I associate Laura Ortiz with a group – such as Anneke Baeten, Lucinda Sherlock and Kerri Pullo – whom I believe are essentially defining and leading the thriving asemic movement at this time. This contention, however, is limiting. While Laura Ortiz shares commonalities with other artists that seems gender-based and grounded in shared influences, it is her individuality that – I think – makes her work so compelling.

“Untitled” by Laura Ortiz

I wanted to learn more about Laura Ortiz and her work. So I asked her to respond to some questions for Asemic Front. Laura wrote:

“I developed my love for letters from a very young age and always wanted to work in the art field. My father was in advertising. He designed and painted the big billboards that were so central to advertising but which are less common today.

“While I lived in Argentina I studied and worked as a psychologist. When i came to Canada 10 years ago, I decided to follow my heart and in 2007  embarked on a degree in graphic design.

“In 2016 i discovered asemic writing on the web. I became  immediately fascinated by the combination of letters, glyphs, abstract art and design. So I said to myself, ‘Why not!?’ I started exploring, practicing and learning from my fellow artists and I have never stopped since.”

“Slide Show” by Laura Ortiz

I admire Laura Ortiz’s harmonious union of text and image (with an especially brilliant use of color). So I am not surprised to find her lifelong connection to graphic design and advertising going back to her father. (Many asemic writers have studied psychology too.) Her work, however, is also deeply rooted in the practice of calligraphy. These pieces reveal some FAB calligraphy.

While calligraphy is one of her foundations, Laura Ortiz draws on virtually all the conventional sources of asemics such as collage, abstract art and digital aesthetics. (She does not seem particularly partial to found material.) Laura Ortiz brings them together seamlessly and with seemingly infinite variation.

Like much of the asemic writing with which I am most familiar – the type that has emerged in recent years from the mail art network – Laura Ortiz combines both asemics and visual poetry to make her unique compositions. (Laura is not a member of the Eternal Network. She just shares some points in common.) Some asemic purists – I used to call them the “Asemically Correct” – disparage a wedding of asemic writing and visual poetry, although it would seem this position is fading. Laura Ortiz represents a new line of asemic thought.




“Yellow” by Laura Ortiz




Asemic Writing and Grapheme Colour Synaesthesia

Those involved in asemic writing and especially asemic-visual poetry hybrids have likely noted the use of color associated with asemic symbols and constructs. The effect of “reading” one of these colorful asemic texts essentially creates a state of synaesthesia for the reader, the well-known mixing of perceptions. (For instance, being able to see music is a frequently reported synaesthetic phenomenon.)

Grapheme Colour Synaesthesia is a specific, documented condition where the reader sees individual words and numerals in different colors. The condition has been studied (see link) and specifics words are associated with specific colors and thus repeat in patterns.

These colors are possibly triggered by memories and emotional associations. Thus, both an individual experiencing Grapheme Colour Synaesthesia as well as an asemic text using color are essentially “reading” color constructs. The experience is deeply subjective and can also be deeply fulfilling and fascinating. On some level, the reader is also connected to the author of the asemic text.

This is not a process of ordinary “reading,” but it is an experience rooted in language and interaction with a text. The asemic text draws on the uniquely human capacity for language but it is also a new kind of “reading” that transcends the limitations of traditional signification and offers possibilities for new kinds of understanding, communication and experience.

References to Grapheme Colour Synaesthesia are frequently noted in the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud. This fascination along with an emphasis on imagery among Rimbaud and the Symbolists had a powerful impact on Modernism and likely set the stage more than a century ago for the current asemic movement.


( Link = Dixon, Mike J., et al. “The role of meaning in grapheme-colour synaesthesia.” Cortex 42.2 (2006): 243-252. )





Black A, white E, red I, green U, blue O—vowels,
Some day I will open your silent pregnancies:
A, black belt, hairy with bursting flies,
Bumbling and buzzing over stinking cruelties.

Pits of night; E, candor of sand and pavilions,
High glacial spears, white kings, trembling Queen-Anne’s lace;
I, bloody spittle, laughter dribbling from a face
In wild denial or in anger, vermilions;

U,…divine movement of viridian seas,
Peace of pastures animal-strewn, peace of calm lines
Drawn on foreheads worn with heavy alchemies;

O, supreme Trumpet, harsh with strange stridencies,
Silences traced in angels and astral designs:
O…OMEGA…the violet light of His Eyes!

Arthur Rimbaud (1871) (Trans. Schmidt & Bauer)




Asemic Vispo by Allison Anne (Twin Cities, Minnesota, USA)

Mail art by Allison Anne (Twin Cities, Minnesota, USA)

Allison Anne is a gifted artist and enthusiastic Eternal Networker both via paper and digitally. She has a knowledge of music, much of which is associated with the network, that is rarely seen. So I am pleased to learn she has been inspired by asemic writing and visual poetry. This message she left at the IUOMA-Ning asemic writing group provides a context for this wonderful work she sent:

“DVS, seeing / (hearing!) / meeting the bennetts [C Mehrl and John M. Bennett], musicmaster [Thomas M. Cassidy] & others at the asemic translations event here as well as seeing the exhibition at the mn center for book arts [curated by Michael Jacobson] in mpls caused me to feel more of a connection to asemics than i did previously… and caused me to want to experiment. it was an inspiring event.” And more on the reverse side:

Thrilled to feature the one and only Allison Anne on Asemic Front!


Deconstructive Asemics by Ficus strangulensis (West Virginia, USA)

Digital decomposition from Times New Roman by Ficus strangulensis. He notes the piece could be the beginning of an “asemic alphabet.”

Ficus - deconstructive asemics - 2a1

Digital decomposition from Snipple font by Ficus Strangulensis.


One prevalent strain in current asemic text creation involves the decomposition of existing texts and alphabets. Written language is rendered “incomprehensible” to create asemic constructs that are unreadable in terms of the conventional process of reading.

The asemic construct is not necessarily devoid of meaning, but the communication process does not occur in the same way as the conventional process that signification creates meaning in reading. As asemics provide revelations about the nature of language, one contradiction emerges in relation to the concept of asemic unreadability: Asemic constructs are a metaphor for written language; asemics are meta-language because they can only talk about language but ultimately are not language.

The ghost of language may emerge and disappear in the asemic text, and these explorations by Ficus strangulensis stand on this borderland. Indeed, they locate precisely the asemic duality of standing on the borderline between meaning and incoherence. They capture alphabetic symbols evolving into some other kind of discourse. They suggest the roots of visual texts we rarely consider.

Methods utilized in deconstructive asemics include distortion, disruption, various chance operations and/or automatism, among others. Deconstructive asemics and its methods can be viewed as a destructive dismantling of the written word, a metaphor for the decline of the Age of Print and the notion of “literature.” Certainly the work of some asemic writers and artists suggests violence and a revolutionary spirit that might well represent obliteration of previous modes of discourse. However, the work of many others suggests both the interrogation of language already mentioned and the discovery of a new form of visual expression we do not yet fully grasp. These pieces by Ficus strangulensis suggest that quest.


3.9.2017 - asemic front21