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!

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: Vispo Cut-up by Juan Lopez de Ael (Vitoria-Gasteiz, Pais Vasco, Spain)

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Mail art by Juan Lopez de Ael (Vitoria-Gasteiz, Pais Vasco, Spain)

In the last year, we have become familiar with visual poetry by Juan Lopez de Ael and admire it very much. He is, in our estimation, a master of the cut-up. So we are absolutely thrilled to have received this postcard-size piece, which is an original composition, not a copy. Like many visual poets and text-centered artists, Juan Lopez de Ael is an active participant in the Eternal Network.

In the work of Juan Lopez, we see an affinity to William S. Burroughs’ cut-ups and thus earlier DaDa prototypes. But Juan Lopez de Ael also departs from Burroughs significantly. The work of Juan Lopez is less linear and more dependent on the concept of defamiliarization. We see strong affinities to concrete poetry and those poets who focus on the materiality of language. Juan Lopez uses much material that comes from the mass media, and his work can be viewed as an interrogation of this public discourse and its visual manipulations (fonts in particular).

One should not overlook the recombinant and transformative nature of visual poetry by Juan Lopez de Ael. These literal deconstructions result in explorations of alternative syntax, the non-linear and the creation of whole new symbols. The result is more than base distortion. In the context of the current interest in asemic writing, the work of Juan Lopez de Ael deserves consideration.

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Deepest thanks to Juan Lopez de Ael for being so thoughtful and sending an original work!

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: Asemic Vispo & Mail Art Call by Rosa Gravino (Canada de Gomez, Argentina)

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Mail art by Rosa Gravino (Canada de Gomez, Argentina)

Rosa Gravino is a wonderfully talented visual poet and faithful correspondent. She continually works on exhibitions that promote vispo (visual poetry) on a global scale. We have enjoyed working with Rosa Gravino for some time. In particular, we have fond memories of her contributions and involvement in the book projects we coordinated with Cheryl Penn (South Africa).

So we are thrilled to have received this postcard-size asemic work by Rosa Gravino. While the asemic elements are pronounced in this piece, we have seen many other fine examples of vispo-asemic hybrid work by Rosa Gravino. Here is the reverse side of the card:

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Rosa Gravino included documentation from one of her amazing exhibitions.

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Marcela Peral is another excellent visual poet. Here is the reverse side. You can click to enlarge:

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Rosa Gravino also included a modified call for more work:

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Send your vispo!

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Make sure to visit Rosa Gravino’s blog:

http://rosagravino.blogspot.com/

MinXus Mail Bag: Jerseymics (or Jerseymiotics) by Erica Durante (Waldwick, New Jersey, USA)

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Mail art by Erica Durante (Waldwick, New Jersey, USA)

Asemic writing: Everyone is doing it these days, or so it seems. And our faithful correspondent in New Jersey, Erica Durante, weighs in with what we take to be her take on asemics.

This piece makes it clear to us that asemics and automatic writing/drawing are closely related. The piece has a childlike quality, bolstered by the stars that might have been placed by a parent or teacher. (Possibly it’s Trashpo.) Is Erica Durante making wry commentary on the over-intellectualization of asemic writing? Is she showing us it is easy, and we should look to children for inspiration? We shall plead our own reading is indeterminate and inconclusive. Perhaps you have another understanding, dearest Tenderfoot.

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We are always thrilled to hear the news from Erica Durante. We offer congratulations as she continues in her superb role as President of DKULTJER: DKult New Jersey.

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