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Asemic Writing - Seeming Right

Updated: Dec 15, 2021

When I've needed a bit of a creative prompt, I've often searched Google and Pinterest for "abstract art" (and I collect some). Some drawings which intrigue me, and seem to be in the right space between abstract and representational, are those which seem to be line shapes organised in lines.

This is often called "asemic writing", which means "writing without meaning".


Asemic Writing Needs Symbols

Creativity loves limitations. I began this by challenging myself to just draw the digits 1 through 9, in a way that made an interesting abstract. Is it asemic writing? I don't think so: you can probably identify the digits, and they're not very organized.

This next one in fact began as writing an "imaginary signature", which was then simplified.

To me it hovers just on the edge of writing

In a different way (i.e. without using letters or digits), this seems close to a kind of hieroglyphic writing:

I decided to be more direct about it. Again restricting myself to particular symbols, I decorated them (extending lines, adding serifs), and even chopped up and copied bits between them. Perhaps it's the closest I've come to the "real thing".

Picture of an Asemic writing art design above a desk, by StillMovingArt: digits
An Asemic writing design by StillMovingArt: digits
A detail of an Asemic writing design by StillMovingArt: digits
Asemic writing from StillMovingArt: digits

It's a bit "contrived". But I'm happy with its as a design. True asemic writing should be written out, ideally. The ambient musician, Robert Rich (whose music I've interpreted visually), created some fine examples:

Picture of Asemic Writing by musician Robert Rich
Robert Rich is rich with ideas!


Why Do We Like Asemic Writing?

Asemic writing hints at meaning but doesn't make us read anything. Why is that good in an art piece?

What's common to all of the examples above, is

  • Rhythms

  • Repetition

  • Lines drawn

  • Shapes from lines touching, intersecting, looping

  • Lines to organize

  • Single colour (usually black)

  • (Usually a sense of being hand-written)

Most of these are attractive elements of patterns and of abstract art generally.

Because I think we don't want to be TOLD by art (especially abstract art); we want to experience it with our senses. At the same time, we are impressed when there's a "fingerprint of intelligence" in the work. That can be due to many things: the sophistication of the technique; the level of organization; the amount of control shown; and the showing of the symbols of intelligence, such as writing.

Asemic Writing seems right as art, because it shows many of these aspects. It also draws in our attention because we are trained by long learning and experience, to read symbols on a line. It's very had not to read writing!

What are your thoughts on Asemic Writing as Art?

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