MinXus Mail Bag: Vispo Collabs by Jim Leftwich and Evan Damerow (Roanoke, Virginia, USA)

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Mail art by Jim Leftwich and Evan Damerow (Roanoke, Virginia, USA)

This summer we received two large packages of mail art from visual poet Jim Leftwich in Roanoke, the first of which (chronologically) we are documenting in this blog. The vast majority of the pieces are collaborations between Jim Leftwich and Evan Damerow. (The exception is one very interesting asemic work at the end.) According to Facebook, Evan Damerow resides in New Zealand. His work was unknown to us before the arrival of this missive.

While Jim Leftwich seems to us inclined toward the prolific naturally, we attribute some of this outpouring of work this summer to the 2015 Marginal Arts Festival. The event seems to have been a great success and a perusal of the documentation will be rewarding to Tenderfoots, no doubt:

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The Anti-Brain Rot mail art call and exhibition also accompanied the festival, which occurred in July (2015). Here is some partial documentation of the entries via C. Mehrl Bennett (Columbus, Ohio, USA):

https://cmehrlbennett.wordpress.com/2015/07/15/the-anti-brain-rot-mailart-exhibit/

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Unless otherwise indicated, all the pieces shown here are Jim Leftwich-Evan Damerow collabs.

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These Leftwich-Damerow collabs hold specific interest to the trashpoets and D-Kulters in the network (many of whom are rabid followers of our humble blog), as Jim Leftwich is acknowledged as having created some of the earliest Trashpo (2005). These pieces (the current work shown here) use found material, have the organic structure so recognizable in most Trashpo and also show the anti-art stance and the On the Road spontaneity of Trashpo composition.

Trashpo is a form of visual poetry. (Many current practitioners are either unaware of or disregard this fact). The pieces documented here make abundant and innovative use of text, text-image associations and juxtapositions, cut up, disruption, asemics and other approaches that are related to poetry and the poetic as well as the tenets of Trashpo rather than mere collage. In short, they are excellent examples. The work transcends Trashpo in many ways yet still offers insights into Trashpo theory and practice for the working trashpoet.

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A bonus in the package was the piece below: “Spirit Writing” by Jim Leftwich (1997), a piece of historical significance because it was made so early in the context of the current thriving and burgeoning asemic movement. Jim Leftwich, however, and as many know, has reservations concerning the use of the term “asemic” and having his own work labeled as asemic writing. So we encourage Tenderfoots to consider the perspective of visual poetry here, although we believe the tide of history is very likely to identify Jim Leftwich as an asemic writer (among other designations):

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A closer look:

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Many thanks to Jim Leftwich and Evan Damerow!

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MinXus Mail Bag: Asemic Tacky Little Pamphlet (TLP) by Jason Motsch (Conneaut Lake, Pennsylvania, USA)

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Mail art by Jason Motsch (Conneaut Lake, Pennsylvania, USA)

The Tacky Little Pamphlet (TLP), a mail art staple, is an ideal vehicle for asemic writing projects. Certainly prize examples can be found in the massive body of John M. Bennett’s (Ohio, USA) work, among others. Now Jason Motsch has made another contribution to the genre with this wonderful piece he sent us. The opening scan is the cover. The pages are approximately 2 X 3 inches, and he faithfully follows the “official” TLP folding pattern. Here are the inside pages:

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This is a very free form, calligraphy-based asemic writing, somewhat traditional compared to current, exotic methods for generating symbols.

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This asemic TLP by Jason Motsch, as with most asemics that travel through the mail art network, is actually asemic-vispo hybrid work. The colorful triangles provide a useful continuity and anchors for the organic, apparently spontaneous writing.

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And the back cover:

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The TLP provides a brief yet sustained asemic cycle. As language is suggested, so is the structure of a lyric poetry cycle. We find the work interesting and engaging. Here is the envelope:

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And the reverse:

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Many thanks to Jason Motsch for sending more excellent asemic writing and vispo!

MinXus Mail Bag: Five Visual Poems by Jim Leftwich (Roanoke, Virginia, USA)

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Mail art by Jim Leftwich (Roanoke, Virginia, USA)

We are happy indeed to share with Tenderfoots a group of five visual poems received from Jim Leftwich. They tend toward the text-centric and are composed using a tape transfer technique. This method allows for image-text integration, overlaying, distortion and excellent textures. The pieces are taped on cards with a dimension of approximately 3 X 5 inches.

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Jim Leftwich uses appropriated materials in these visual poems. The tape transfer adds the element of chance operations to the process. The result is not unlike what is produced by the cut-up technique as practiced by Brion Gysin, William S. Burroughs and Harold Norse. Both insights and radical dislocations can be experienced. With these pieces, Jim Leftwich is able to achieve stronger text-image synthesis than classic cut-ups that often focus on some degree of linearity and conventional “reading.”

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Detail of tape transfer vispo by Jim Leftwich

In the context of mail art, the use of comics makes a reference to popart and thus Ray Johnson, even if inadvertent. On another level, the pieces use the discourse of popular culture and textbook-like discourse. As a result, both standard discourse and logic are disrupted and interrogated. New symbols frequently emerge from the various decompositions of language.

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These pieces emphasize the materiality of language as well.

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Detail of vispo by Jim Leftwich

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All the pieces are signed:

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And the envelope:

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And the reverse:

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Many thanks to Jim Leftwich for sending us this great work!

MinXus Mail Bag: “Digital Asemics” by Ruud Janssen (Breda, Netherlands)

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Mail art by Ruud Janssen (Breda, Netherlands)

As his letter below explains, Ruud Janssen recently has had a very productive, creative phase. Many networkers are receiving some great mail as a result, including his renowned, hand-painted envelopes. We are fortunate indeed to be among the recipients. In the days ahead, we will share some incredible work from Ruud Janssen, interspersed with material from our other faithful correspondents.

This first posting is a Ruud Janssen foray into asemics. These days the asemic designation is hotly debated in some circles (and accepted wholeheartedly in others). The contention centers around not the quality of the work being produced under the asemic moniker but what to call it and how to view it. Designations include asemic writing, asemic art and pansemics. Some insist this kind of work is abstract art, calligraphy, automatic writing or visual poetry; leave the asemic or pansemic part out of it. At least some of the confusion is derived, we believe, from the fact that asemics bridge the boundaries between traditional literary and visual arts. Asemics are “intermedia” or at least conducive to that concept.

What we know is that we like this piece by Ruud Janssen very much. It is rooted in calligraphy. We accept the asemic concept as being theoretically sound and valid, so we believe this piece is asemic. Placing it in that context enhances interpretive possibilities. The piece is asemic in the sense that the cursive shapes suggest language but fall into the realm of the incomprehensible. The work cannot be “read” in the way we would read text; however, that does not negate the possibility that a viewer can find meaning.

A great deal of asemic writing is being produced by mail artists and circulated in the network. The IUOMA is one center of activity for this production. The IUOMA brand of asemics (because members tend to influence each other to a great degree) is  in actuality a visual poetry-asemic writing hybrid. This work Ruud Janssen sent is a very good example of the asemic-vispo hybrid, even though it retains his very recognizable style.

This work also has a logical place among the “mind maps” Ruud Janssen has been creating during the recent surge. These mind maps are meditations on mail art and its relation to art movements and technology. The ability of this work to communicate on a rhetorical level is based imagery (written text and computer components primarily) and thus the work has a correspondence to visual poetry as well as the asemic.

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This new wave from the Netherlands is being circulated in the beautiful hand-painted envelopes that already have a near-legendary status in the Eternal Network.

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And the reverse:

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Deepest thanks to Ruud Janseen. Stay tuned for more soon!

 

MinXus Mail Bag: Asemics by Terry Owenby (Portland, Oregon, USA)

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Mail art by Terry Owenby (Portland, Oregon, USA)

Tenderfoot Terry Owenby kindly sent us this beautiful postcard-size work. She has an ongoing interest in asemic writing and art. This piece, we believe, uses an unconstrained and highly expressive street art approach. The background, which has distressed tonal qualities, reveals the affinity between abstract art and asemics. The straight lines in the background form an interesting synthesis between the asemic calligraphy and the painting. We are thrilled to have this and think it is a beautiful piece. Anti-art scratches also have a correspondence to the writing. Terry Owenby included a very nice note with the work:

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Explanations such as this in mail art are appreciated but not necessary. Correspondence art is fun and rewarding, but it is also very demanding. The majority of participants take time off for varying durations and in various ways. Terry Owenby has, indeed, been a faithful member of the IOUMA asemic writing group and contributor to our humble blog. Keep in touch as well as you can, Terry. Many thanks!

MinXus Mail Bag: Joey Patrickt Goes Vispo (Oakland, California, USA)

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Mail art by Joey Patrickt (Oakland, California, USA)

We have praised Joey Patrickt for his West Coast surrealism in previous blogs. In this posting, we recognize his versatility. He sent us a package of text-oriented pieces that match the MinXus-Lynxus visual poetry aesthetic perfectly. Of course, we do not insist that our correspondents toe a party line – far from it – but we do appreciate work that reacts in various ways to theories and concepts we propose, even when it is parody (as in the case of David Stafford). The piece above, for instance, uses overlays, disruption and distortion to reach the border between the comprehensible and the incomprehensible, which is the realm of the asemic. We also like this postcard-size piece a great deal:

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One section we like especially:

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Joey Patrickt has disrupted the process of signification, logic and syntax to the extent that we are left to view the debris of language construction as a visual image in that it cannot be “read” in a conventional way. But the ghost of language is insistent, and the shapes seem to be captured in a process of reforming into new symbols. Regardless of whether found, random or whatever the source, we believe this is a very effective concrete poem. The focus on a single line is a novel approach, and the smudging – the merging of the abstract signifiers with the physical page – certainly emphasize the materiality of the work. The piece is apparently a collab because we found this on the reverse side:

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Joey Patrickt also enclosed some Trashpo related to the visual arts and writing:

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The envelope:

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And the reverse:

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Many thanks to Joey Patrickt for an excellent textual-visual mail art package with some great conceptual material and some humor as well.

“Captain Vispo” by Dark wall – visual poetry, asemic writing, asemic poetry

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“Captain Vispo” by Dark wall (version #1)

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“Captain Vispo” by Dark wall (version #2)

(After Gregory Corso’s “Captain Poetry”)

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