Mail art by Richard Canard (Carbondale, Illinois, USA)
Based on comments he posted in the IUOMA asemic writing group, I had assumed Richard Canard joined a few other vispo luminaries (Pete Spence of Australia being the most vocal) and made an exodus from asemic writing (which despite the protests seems to be growing in popularity). This small but impressive group of vispo stalwarts claims the asemic concept is misunderstood and misapplied. What is being done in the name of asemics is either visual poetry or abstract art, according to the naysayers. I saw, or at least thought I saw, Richard beating a hasty treat from the Asemic Front as well, but I’m not sure of the chronology.
So I was surprised to receive (relatively recent and relatively serious) work invoking asemics from Richard Canard that has reached the top of the blogging pile. I like the first piece (above) especially. Richard Canard has explored the “overlay” method of asemic writing that I believe is derived in part from overlay effects found in early concrete poetry. The overlaying – in critical theory terms – produces textual distortion and purposely makes meaningful text “incomprehensible.” Some contend new symbols are created as well. Moments of clarity might emerge, but they eventually meld back into the asemic realm. The overlay technique also produces an aesthetic similar to what can be seen in abstract expressionist painting.
This is a method favored by the Jim Leftwich wing of asemics, and evidence is mounting that Jim Leftwich and Tim Gaze are largely responsible for the current wave, although Jim Leftwich seems intent upon dissociating himself from it. As much as I am sympathetic to his position, I doubt he can reverse the tide now.
As ever, thanks to Richard Canard!