As regular visitors to this blog will know, I’ve been exploring some aspects of Asemic Writing. This interest grew out of my pieces, which all call textured text. In the process of scanning and photographing various pages of books, magazines, and junk mail, I decided to include some of my daughter’s writings and drawings. Tasha is a Downs person, and some of the writing was of her own invention, while other pieces were carefully copied, if not well spaced. Studying her pieces drew me to the concept of Asemic Writing. Asemic means “containing no semantic content”, an absence of meaning. In effect, writing that becomes abstract art/patterning.
Now such writing contains the codes and conventions of writing, and appears to be a predictable sequence, or at least part of a particular sequence. As such, our minds attempt to impose structure & meaning upon these abstract patterns. This is a quite natural process and is in fact the basis for how we read (interpret/decode) any text ( forms of mass media). One of the basic rules of literacy is that ” the Reader brings meaning to the text”. We experience text within the context of our experience, knowledge and skills. When we do this very effectively, we think of it as reading, a learned skill that has been mastered. The Reader fills in the implied space of the text with the context that they bring with them.
To put this in perspective, imagine that you have been presented with pictographs from the Tuu’angha Tribe. If you have no background in pictographs , and no knowledge of the Tuu’angha Tribe, then your ability to read this text is very limited. You try and decode the symbols based on what you know. Say you have knowledge of pictographs, but no nothing of the tribe. You can apply your knowledge of how pictographs in other cultures are used to make better predictions about the possible meaning/interpretation of the text. If you had knowledge about the tribe, but lacked information about pictographs, you may be able to apply that knowledge to make better predictions about the possible meaning/interpretation of the text. An individual who know both can derive more meaning from the text in relation to that knowledge base.
As you can imagine, someone with poor reading skills, for any number of a wide variety of reasons, has difficulty bringing meaning to the text. Those of us who were exposed to school music through singing, and lacked musical vocal ability, understand all too well that reading the notes was frustrating and left one a lack of self esteem. Older people who struggle with digital text on the computer screen and other electronic devices, have the same problem. They are unable to decode the digital text because they still are attempting to interpret it as if it is simply printed text ( “What do you mean it is hyper-linked and opens in a new tab ?”)
Asemic Writing plays with the brains expectations of decoding text, by presenting patterns that resemble text, but lack semantic content ( See:Apophenia ). It turns everyone into a frustrated reader or non-reader. The visual pieces presented here create the illusion of the physical context of corroded metal. It then places a mixture of types of text that the reader attempts to interpret. Included is English and some European based languages. A variety of fonts are used, including one that belongs to a fictional language that comes from a well known science fiction franchise. Some of the various letters have been degraded and blended with the metal textures. In some cases the letters have been altered in some manner, flipped or modified. Finally some pure asemic writing, lines that resemble writing, but lack any semantic content have also been used. Your mind will seek metal, solid meaning, but you need to seek the truth of rust in order to have understanding.