Received: Karen Champlin's Mail-Art Asemic Project (Chicago, Illinois, USA)

Mail-art by IUOMA member Karen Champlin (Chicago, Illinois, USA)

December 11, 2010 - Karen Champlin has embarked on a new project to integrate asemic writing into her distinctive mail-art assemblages. I am very fortunate to have received two pieces from the series. As always, I am amazed at what she has been able to achieve. She is creating beautiful symbols that, I believe, are not meant to be referential or to bear a fixed meaning. Similar to Geof Huth's (New York, USA) work posted at the IUOMA earlier this week, Karen enables her audience re-connect with the materiality and beauty of written language. I think she references ancient texts here. I do know from conversations with her she is interested in Biblical ties to asemics. The asemic writing is the large symbols in the piece above, and it's integrated with found language and vispo elements. Going by fixed definitions isn't necessarily useful when interpreting this kind of work. Visual poets seem to be constantly synthesizing previous work, This is an area that is still constantly evolving, defying the "literature of exhaustion" model of postmodernism. Vispo circulating through the mail-art network indicates an incredible vitality. Here is the reverse side:

Marie Wintzer (Saitama, Japan) wrote about the visual qualities of different modern languages this week. I want to emphasize I believe Karen's work references ancient hieroglyphs across cultures and possibly contemporary Japanese and Chinese writing where the connection between word and image are more pronounced than with, say, European languages. This is speculative and not well defined, but perhaps a point to consider or explore. Here's the second piece I received from Karen:

I like the antique-looking script in the background. Bifidus Jones (Minnesota, USA) has done some fine work in this area also. If asemics denote "meaningless relationships" in the conventional sense of understanding language, I wonder if asemic writers at some point find themselves, even unwittingly, creating symbols and syntax that amount to a personal language. David-Baptiste Chirot calls some of his visual and asemic poetry "Chirotglyphs," recognizing they do express meanings beyond a simple increased awareness of language. Here is the reverse side of the piece above:

I appreciate the kind words, Karen. I do believe we are all learning together. In the long run, I am as clueless as anyone - trusting that you and others will keep moving us ahead and to better understanding. Like all good mail-artists, Karen makes excellent use of envelope space:

I deeply appreciate Karen's friendship and feel honored to be an early recipient of her asemic project.

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Comment by De Villo Sloan on December 12, 2010 at 2:36pm

I recall the inside-out-shirts as briefly being a trend. I wanted to recommend Imitation Jesus tee-shirts. I believe there was a brand called Imitation Jesus - and the shirts came pre-ripped - no joke. But when I searched I could find no reference to the company. Maybe someone played a joke on me? A new Mail-Art Psychic has been found and retained. She officially begins tomorrow. I have to follow proper channels

Comment by cheryl penn on December 12, 2010 at 2:21pm

Aah.  Seamless on the inside.

Comment by De Villo Sloan on December 12, 2010 at 2:30am

Nice addition, Bifidus. Thanks. Marie, the Mail-Art Psychic passed a message along to me meant especially for you: "Marie will find a brilliant and compelling message at 'Marie's Mailbox' very soon." Hey, I'm just the messenger. Do you think I should start Mail-Art Makeover? As for the mail-art fashion consultant, I couldn't make up my mind about what you should wear. I did suggest you might want to try wearing your shirt inside out and then took it down. I would suggest you wear a shirt inside out for a day. It's surprisingly comfortable. It will look best if you wear two shirts with collars. Put the first shirt on the regular way. Then put the second shirt on inside-out over it. Know what I mean? The effect with the two collars is surprisingly sporty, depending upon what you're trying to achieve. But if you're going for a fashionable mail-artist look, that should do it. I'll be glad to consult with you personally about wardrobe choices anytime, Marie, because you are a good friend.  

Comment by Bifidus Jones on December 12, 2010 at 1:38am

De Villo and Karen, I wanted to add the mail art I received from Karen since it's in the same vein:

There's never a time I'm not enchanted by Karen's work and the fact that she is willing to go beyond the perimeters of her previous work is an inspiration for me to continue to expand my efforts. Thanks, Karen.

Comment by Marie Wintzer on December 12, 2010 at 12:42am

I like the thin red thread surrounding the thick blue writing, I never noticed before.

No psychic predictions and dress code today? I was looking forward....

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