RECEIVED: Eco-Asemics from Nancy Bell Scott (USA) + Vispology from Lorraine Kwan (Canada) & Neil Gordon's TrAshemics (USA)

Eco-Asemic mail-art by IUOMA member Nancy Bell Scott (Old Orchard Beach, Maine, USA)


February 13, 2012 - Since she became a member of the IUOMA last summer, Nancy Bell Scott has produced wonderful and innovative art for the Eternal Network. Much of this has been in the area of asemics, visual poetry, and haptic poetry, as well as significant forays into Trashpo and Trash Books.


Nancy claims to be a novice but has a past connection to the Fluxus master Cecil Touchon (Colorado, USA). How out of the loop could she really have been? Plus, she has ties to the infamous (now deceased) Trungpa Rinpoche who made such a splash back in the day at the Naropa Institute and Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. Here is the reverse side:



In my current, desperate effort to organize work received, I revisited this eco-asemic piece Nancy sent and found myself marveling at its brilliance. Some might ask: What are eco-asemics?


This was another area of asemic writing explored during the monumental Asemics 16 collaborative mail-art book project. Artists from around the globe were clogging the comment streams with all sorts of examples, including asemic-suggestive forms from nature. I think someone from Brazil ran pics of his laundry flapping in the breeze.


In particular, John M. Bennett (Ohio, USA) posted wood splinters that seemed to be arranged in a pattern that suggested syntax, or at least a linear pattern. More examples were presented, so I wrote a quick, operational definition for a genre that clearly already existed in asemics:


Eco-Asemics is a term used to describe Asemic Writing found in asemic-suggestive shapes in the natural   environment. Artists exploring Eco-Asemics often use photographs; however, incorporation in art could be done in numerous ways. The potential for Haptic-Eco-Asemics is vast. Eco-Asemics might be found in rock formations, sand, trees and plants - anywhere that your mind can locate potential signs, symbols, and structures in nature.


I hazard to guess that what Nancy sent me is birch bark in terms of material. Birch trees, if I remember correctly, grace the Maine landscape, as they also do in New York, to a lesser degree. Due to a color resembling parchment and characteristic cracking, birch is ideal for eco-asemics. I presented Nancy's work (top scan) left-justified, right-ragged because it looks like the shape of a poem we might see printed on a page or computer screen.


This draws attention to the fact that we have been conditioned to identify certain configurations of words - shapes - with poetry. All written and printed poetry is, in a sense, concrete or visual. Nancy's beautiful piece of bark suggests, possibly a sonnet. With a certain tinge of bitterness, turning the bark into a bite, I wish to add I enjoy reading Nancy's sonnet far more than most I have encountered during the last - say - 20 years.


I also have an earlier piece of asemic-vispo Nancy sent. In retrospect, it is clear to see she was going to produce major work:



Do not miss Nancy's exceptional blog!


Lorraine Kwan (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) is a tremendous supporter of the Canadian mail-art network and also an incredibly sweet person, based on the too-infrequent correspondence we have had.


When Cheryl Penn (South Africa) and I rolled out a new visual poetry project in the IUOMA collaborative book group, Lorraine enthusiastically signed on, apparently not realizing everything involved. That is certainly OK; it has happened to many. (In fact, I am in a bit of a pickle getting all those pages copied and mailed.)


Lorraine sent me a beautiful card explaining everything. My only regret is that we will not see a longer tribute to Picasso from her. But I have this amazing card I want to share:


Mail-art by IUOMA member Lorraine Kwan (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)


Here is the reverse side:



Many, many thanks, Lorraine! I am sure we will work on some other project in the future. Lorraine Kwan has a great blog where you can see work by Canadian artists in particular and also many others:


Neil Gordon is distinguishing himself these days through Trashpo, the D-Kult, and the teachings of DharmaDaDa Erni Baer (Hamburg, Germany), although I suspect Neil's roots in DaDa go back further in time. He was an excellent correspondent during Asemics 16, and I wanted to make sure to document this mail-art he sent:


Mail-art by IUOMA member Neil Gordon (Wetherfield, Connecticut, USA)


Neil definitely has a handle on both asemics and the cut-up, presented here as haptic Trashpo. The disregard, perhaps even contempt, for anything that might be politely considered aesthetic reveals the anti-art stance underlying the work. I know Neil has a vast knowledge of music, and I also think this piece shows the influence of punk, which has had a lasting impact on mail-art since its heyday. Here is the reverse:



Friends from other parts of the world occasionally email me, slightly bewildered, about exactly this kind of work that Neil's piece represents. To them, if I can interpret, it seems barbaric or crude and flaunts a total lack of talent. I am not spokesperson for this kind of art, but I try to explain anti-art and that much of this is posturing. Some of it is derived from egalitarian notions that anyone can be an artist. I think Neil has achieved that perfectly here.


Many thanks to Nancy, Lorraine, and Neil for this mail-art!




Views: 561

Tags: Sloan, Trashpo, anti-art, asemic-writing


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Comment by De Villo Sloan on February 14, 2012 at 2:39am

Hi Nancy, I was just bear-baiting due to being anxious about fact-checking, etc. It's a really great piece as asemics, concept art, anything else. I think we all appreciate our birches in the Northeast & I just remembered the great Robert Frost poem, "Birches," & you can't get any more New England than that.


Ruud Janssen, in fact, just started a group to remember one of your former Maine neighbors - Bern Porter - who might have been one of the true American Dadaists.


Anyway, thanks for checking in & the great comments!

Comment by Nancy Bell Scott on February 14, 2012 at 2:12am

Ok, I'm back from away, barking loudly. Wow, DVS, thanks kindly for the grand blog, and in good company too. I sympathize with Lorraine's overwhelmedness, and she backed out far more gracefully than I did from Asemics 16 #5! Neil's loose and trashy MA envelopes made of paper encased in tape are captivating for some reason. Don't know what it is about them, but when one arrived here it won my heart. Yours looks a little neater.

You are correct, quite a lot of birch in Maine, and I picked this piece up especially for you back in 1998 after the big ice storm melted (9 days without power--the last 2 I was in the fetal position by our dinky woodstove but I digress). I absolutely loved it and had it in the studio ever since; it even survived a major move. It was waiting for the right recipient, and there you were one day.

That you see a poem--possibly a sonnet--is thrilling; you presented it perfectly. A connection with Trungpa Rinpoche is, of course, an ambivalent tie (and mine is very l o o s e, as you well know!), but anything to do with "disembodied poetics," Kerouac's or anybody else's, seems to me a good place to park for a time, so I'm glad you brought it up.

Thanks again, and for the comments, people, it is SO nice to come home to IUOMA.  

Comment by Marie Wintzer on February 14, 2012 at 1:27am
It was much more interesting to read about his top three big screen lachrimogenia.
I'm sure NBS will soon be back....
Comment by De Villo Sloan on February 14, 2012 at 1:03am

Nothing new, no. I'm somewhat shocked at the attempt there to create Trashpo. It looks like he spilled his milk on the whole thing & decided to mail it anyway. Where's NBS? Must be barking up the wrong tree.

Comment by Marie Wintzer on February 13, 2012 at 11:50pm

I haven't seen the DK blog, no. Anything new? I'll check it out.

Comment by De Villo Sloan on February 13, 2012 at 11:32pm

son of a birch!

Comment by De Villo Sloan on February 13, 2012 at 11:26pm

Hi Marie, I love the birch bark eco-asemic too. If Nancy were here she would be likely to confirm that birch bark was a favorite material for the Native Americans (Indians) in the Northeast, from canoes to baskets and, yes, it has that asemic quality that is very attractive & interesting. It's a material that was used in folk art & all sorts of things.


I don't know if you saw DK's "Actress Shoots Antonin" blog, but your friend seems to be promoting that piece globally & the rumors surrounding it. A version has turned up on the TT Fluxus-Anti-Art blog:

Comment by Marie Wintzer on February 13, 2012 at 11:05pm

So glad you posted Nancy's birch tree. I haven't seen anything like that before, look at those lines! Some great poem it must be. And the Picasso tribute is a wow too. Wonderful!

Comment by De Villo Sloan on February 13, 2012 at 8:31pm

Hi Erni. I wonder why we focus on human-made things so much with found objects? Skybridge mailed me leaves & twigs once, I think. I hear there was a time when people mailed dirt to one another & the postal system doesn't like that. The bark seems, well, natural.


Svenja, we're both NBS fans for sure. She is never at a loss for ideas.


Helder, hello! It has been too long! Yes, COMA looks fantastic. When I think of the work from just friends like you, Eduardo Cardoso & Bruno Neiva - I think there is great talent & work coming from Portugal. Maybe we can all dsicover more through your project:


I'll watch for your mail. Thanx!

Comment by Helder Coelho Dias on February 13, 2012 at 7:10pm

Nancy Bell pieces are Great, thats my kind of work, i real must send her some Mail Art. De Villo soon you will have on your mail box a new surprise from me, hope you decide to send me something...


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