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Asemic writing is a wordless open semantic form of writing. In 1997 visual poets Tim Gaze and Jim Leftwich first applied the word asemic to name their quasi-calligraphic writing gestures. Asemic writing exists in many different forms. Asemic writing occurs in avant-garde literature and art with strong roots in the earliest forms of writing. Serafini described the script of the Codex as asemic in a talk at the Oxford University Society of Bibliophiles held on May 8, 2009.
As a creator of asemics, I consider myself an explorer and a global storyteller. Asemic art, after all, represents a kind of language that’s universal and lodged deep within our unconscious minds. Regardless of language identity, each human’s initial attempts to create written language look very similar and, often, quite asemic. Writing that doesn’t have any actual writing in it whatsoever. You would think that this must be some kind of ultimate literary frontier, a frozen Antarctica of writing entirely devoid of literary content, but I wonder. Maybe nanoasemic writing inscribed with atomic force microscopes by Artificial Intelligences. From the Tim Gaze interview at The Commonline Journal: “you could say that nature, since time began, has been manifesting asemic writing.
Ely’s work evokes a range of thematic material: arcane knowledge, secrets and cryptography, time and timelessness. He has developed a private written language using 366 individual signs or “idiographic cyphers” which he refers to as “cribriform. Ungno Lee or Yi Eungro, letter abstracts. Lettrisme, the letteristes often invented new symbols for their artworks and writing, and synthesized writing and other modalities under the term hypergraphy.
Glenn Ligon and his text-based paintings in which a phrase chosen from literature or other sources is repeated continuously, eventually dissipating into murk. Retna, AKA Marquis Lewis, is a graffiti artist who has invented his own script. The Rohonc Codex is an illustrated manuscript book by an unknown author, with a text in an unknown language and writing system. The Voynich manuscript, possibly a proto-asemic text. Title page of A Book from the Sky, in pseudo-Chinese characters. A collage using fragments of lettering from found bill board material. Asemic writing by Emily Dickinson from 1859.