Mail art by Jay Block (Bridgewater, Massachusetts, USA)
We are very pleased to share this postcard-size work from Jay Block in Massachusetts.
Meditating upon this arresting, anti-art-based asemic/vispo by Jay Block led us to a realization that we believe is of some significance: The majority of text-centered vispo (that we also consider asemic) that we receive via the mail art network has been composed using the cut-up technique (or some variant thereof) most commonly associated with William S. Burroughs (and other figures such as Brion Gysin and Harold Norse). We have not conducted a quantitative investigation, but we are confident of our assertion, were an intrepid Tenderfoot to scroll through the august pages of MinXus-Lynxus and, as they say, keep score.
In fact, this piece exemplifies the approach taken by so many asemicists in the Eternal Network. The deconstructive unit tends to be the letter rather than the sentence or paragraph. The Burroughsian cut-up focuses on the level of syntax and (non-)linearity of sentence sequences. As in this work by Jay Block, the letters are broken into fragments and then recombined to create new symbol-suggestive constructs. The rips in the paper are clearly visible and a reminder of the materiality of language, that the work was created through the movement of the artist/writer from paper rather than electronic impulses. This materiality is often present in the asemic pieces we receive. Artifice and concealment are kept to a minimum; the work is also a record of process.
Views will differ in terms of whether Jay Block has caused defamiliarization and disruption of existing language or whether he has achieved creation of some new meta-language expression upon the ruins of the old literate culture. Perhaps it is best to give him credit for having achieved both.
Thanks as ever to Jay Block!