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.