Asemic Writing as Art

Asemic Writing as Art

Wordless writing, illegible writing, new forms of writing

By Tom Venning


Asemic writing has no semantic content. The letters are illegible, invented, or primal. The text has no verbal sense. Through its formatting and structure, it may suggest a type of document, or coded diagram, thereby, hint at meaning. Asemic writing can be understood through aesthetic intuition… through gut feeling. Each of my paintings is a story, an anatomy, a map or ancient scroll that the trained mind can decipher… the deciphering being the training that it takes to understand, to read the text of the story the viewer imagines, the feelings the painting invokes, the experiences it awakens.

The letters of my alphabet are numerous… each letter being a line, but the full impact of the letter on its word being described by the shape of the line. It is as if the lower curve of the letter “S” modifies the meaning of the top curve of the letter “S” so that the letter could either be a sharp “S” or soft “S” or a sly “S” depending on its curves…

So each line is a letter. But each line / letter slightly modifies the meaning of the letters surrounding it until the lines form a series and thus a word. So a words meaning can subtly change, similar to the 250 (or however many) words the Inuit have for describing snow… always starting with an “S” and its associated sounds and intuitions depending on its shape… and always spelt “S-N-O-W”, with each letter gently influencing the full description of the snow. So you see my written language has an infinite number of ways to describe snow…

… and of course the meaning of each series, of each word, effects the meaning of the words around it, a gently rolling of infinite subtlety of meaning. Ultimately the story, scientific description, or mapped code is the landscape formed by the lines and series… and the landscape is not fixed, it changes according to which direction your eye moves across it… just as a steep decline is easy to slide down, but a steep incline almost impossible to climb up. So to understand the text you need to stop awhile and meditate on the landscape, letting your eye and mind flow over the curves and swirls until your aesthetic intuition begins to unravel and decipher the text.

The story is my story of my state when painting, of my feeling for the painting, of my feeling for the subject, of my feeling for myself and my brush. The story is also yours, the viewer, of your state, and the filters you employ (your judgments) to decipher my communication… then you understand.

Look for his work in upcoming June issue of The Woven Tale Press

One Response

  1. Intense, riveting like filaments in a pencil-etched rendition of galactic super-clusters. If one imagines a graphically depictable 2D political spectrum, with raw effluent of campaign rhetoric on the far left end, then Asemic Writing might be waaay over on the far right side — pure Burbling of the Innocents in Satori Streams…

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