Back in the late 1980s I was doing some small asemic explorations on paper. The piece below includes marks that suggest a frame containing an abstract mark of some sort. Beneath it is a caption that contains writing, but no content:
At that time, I was experimenting with gestural writing as art, influenced partly by Japanese calligraphy (and I had also been a calligrapher) and artist Mark Tobey’s meditative “white writing.” I hadn’t heard of any term to describe it. In 1997, “asemic” was coined by Jim Leftwich and Tim Gaze (I love their last names) to describe open-form writing that presumably has no semantic content. Later, the idea of it having no semantic content seems to have been revised; all acts of “writing,” no matter how “contentless,” seem to have at least some potential meaning. Sometimes the word pansemic is now used.
A few years ago, I started making “haptic” art, which looks similar to asemics, but is more open in form and responsive or empathic to the environment and to its subjects. (See my haptic page in the menu/sidebar). On the other hand, there’s a slightly more discrete sensibility about asemics; like haptics, it’s gestural, maybe also empathic; but it gestures toward the act of writing and language.
I’ve started doing asemics again, and have added some to my new work for 2018. Here are a couple new pieces:
I’m looking forward to exploring asemics again, as well as the connections between asemics and haptics and their relation to writing and visual art.