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Asemic Writing? What's it mean?



Their heads tilt, rotate around, trying to make sense of the writing. A lady came into the gallery one day and put a name to it: asemic writing. Who knew there was a name for this kind of abstract writing? Asemic means "without meaning". It's using lines and symbols to look like words, but defined as having no specific semantic content.


Tension 4

The earliest known use of asemic writing goes back to two 8th century Chinese calligraphers, "crazy" Zhang Xu and "drunk monk" Huaisu. Japanese calligraphers jumped on the bandwagon as a way to express the "vitality of eternal experience". From there, the writings have been used in literature and art, especially of the innovative and boundary-pushing avant-garde genre. Notables include Wassily Kandinsky, pioneer of abstract art and many others detailed in this blog. Visual poets Jim Gaze and Jim Leftwich formalized the term asemic in 1997, even making an Anthology of Asemic Handwriting.


Tension 5

Although defined as "without meaning", asemic writing actually does the opposite. As a form of artistic expression where the artist does not define the meaning of the writing, it leaves the viewer to interpret their own meaning, in a way creating a sort of relationship or common language between artist and viewer. The writing is appealing to the eye and "readable", representing a kind of universal language that can be interpreted by anyone.


What do you think? Do you like it, or does it make you uncomfortable?




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