Incoming: Niniji Chen and Jimmy Connors

A fun card from Niniji Chen. I think these may be fake chinese characters(so pretty much asemic), but i'm not sure. I love the addition of the PX Mart sticker too.

Back of an envelope from Jimmy Connors and his add and return project which I'll add  to and return shortly.

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Comment by Jennifer Wallace on July 18, 2020 at 1:40pm

Good discussion!

Comment by Bradford on July 18, 2020 at 12:49am

Deprived of a suitable environment for creating art, such as in a work environment, I’ve always doodled.  Usually representative or at least surreal interpretations of objects, my doodles became absolutely asemic last year.  I’ve not worked out how to share this production with others thinking it might make a good background for a larger work perhaps.  Given that my asemic scribbles resemble Asian ideographic characters, it might challenge Jennifer and Carl a bit to view them as asemics as they would be inclined to assign meaning when perceiving almost-familiar characters.  In short, it’s somewhere between these perspectives which might (excuse me) blur the lines a bit.  I’ve been wondering all this time what to do with my output so the present discussion seems especially pregnant.  Mail will follow . . .

Comment by Jennifer Wallace on July 17, 2020 at 9:27pm

Hmm ... I'm still not convinced about grass script possibly being seen as asemic. I started working in China with only basic Chinese, but you only need to know about Chinese script to know - when you're looking at grass script calligraphy - that it's a text with meaning. I know no Japanese, but know that in all 'normal' contexts - including fine art - any writing I see is going to have meaning, and will be comprehensible to someone who has the appropriate level of knowledge.

On one art course I watched a fellow student tackle a project using asemic writing and was in awe. I have several pieces of Nancy Bell Scott's collage and gaze at the asemic writing trying to work out if my brain will ever get to a place where I can even try this!

Comment by Bradford on July 17, 2020 at 5:01pm

I've always been blessed/cursed to be able to see both (or more) sides of an issue so I agree with "nontranslatable" as a requirement for the asemic designation.  Asemic works should depend on just the visual aspect of what, how something was rendered without any assigned/defined meaning possible, nor aural flow from said translation in spoken form.  Here, nuances of word use in context are irrelevant.  The “untranslatable” then becomes a deeper, more subconscious reflection of what is observed.

Concomitantly, to a viewer not learned about a written language form, the visual presentation stat solum is the only information at hand to consider.  As such, any modern or archaic "grassy style" writing might yield notions of the motion of leaves or water to an uninformed viewer.  In this case, the rigors of scholarship are neither needed nor desired for the artistic interpreter solely concerned with aesthetics; truly an occasion where “Ignorance is best”.  Here, language and assigned meaning for some becomes asemic to others who have nothing else to rely upon.

Comment by William M on July 17, 2020 at 10:06am

good point jennifer. i think of asemic(and i'm no expert) as being non translatable written forms/language or designed as such. a language that is translatable(or part of the history of a living language(or even a dead one)), even just by some experts, wouldn't be asemic to me.

i think the word asemic coming more from the art/literary fields - there's no reason the term would follow a more scientific or even linguistic line of logic - so saying asemiotic would be better term seems a bit besides the point. not sure if i'm making sense there.

Comment by Jennifer Wallace on July 16, 2020 at 1:13pm

I'm sticking my head out here, but I don't agree with the argument that Chinese grass script could be seen as asemic. If you have experience of reading non-contemporary handwriting of your main language (English for me), you'll know that reading some handwriting needs the specialist level of education that it takes to read grass script, and the farther you go back, the more that's the case. Go across languages, and even in those where you can read contemporary type, go into handwriting, and start going back in time, and you can find yourself completely illiterate.

As to the term itself, my impression was that it comes out of the literary world, so I saw it as specialist terminology I'd just never come across before. But Wikipedia tells me, ' The history of today's asemic movement stems from two Chinese calligraphers: "crazy" Zhang Xu, a Tang Dynasty (circa 800 CE) calligrapher who was famous for creating wild illegible calligraphy, and the younger "drunk" monk Huaisu who also excelled at illegible cursive calligraphy.[16] Japanese calligraphers subsequently expanded upon Chinese abstract calligraphic expression by Hitsuzendō (the way of Zen through brush), allowing their works to move past formal presentation and "breathe with the vitality of eternal experience".  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asemic_writing#History

Same source also tells me Cy Twombly was a US Army cryptologist ... that I did not know.

Comment by Bradford on July 15, 2020 at 10:45pm

OK, Carl answered back this morning with this reply:

I began to wonder if the word "asemic" should've been replaced with "asemiotic."

The grass-character Chinese calligraphy often cannot be read by literate Chinese. It takes a lot of thinking to recover the basic kaishu form or never. So one could regard that type of calligraphic artistry as being asemic. You look at it; it had some meaning once; it is not recoverable, but you know it is pregnant with meaning, just unreachable.

No comment on my transcription?

Carl, searching for semiotics in my life

Comment by Jennifer Wallace on July 15, 2020 at 2:20pm

Well ... with a BA and MPhil in Language and Linguistics, I'll admit I only came across 'asemic' when I started fine art studies!

Comment by William M on July 15, 2020 at 12:39pm

what was his take on the examples and definition you provided? i'd be curious.

Comment by Bradford on July 15, 2020 at 10:08am

Yes, I purposely offered no insight into the term, "asemic", but made sure to offer it up for his consideration.  It's kind of an ongoing dialogue we've had running for over 25 years (you'd have to be there to appreciate it really).

I followed up with De Villo Sloan's adapted Widipedia definition and description after suggesting a few descriptors then provided the scans of the covers of WHISPER, a work recently available courtesy of Mr. Sloan's generosity which can be seen in the asemic group here on the IUOMA.

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