visual poetry

Five asemic writing pieces published at The New Post-literate

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The New Post-literate: A Gallery of Asemic Writing is a weblog exploring “asemic writing in relation to post-literate culture.” Scan its entries to find a massive catalog of imaginary scripts and pseudo-writing from around the world. Ultimately, these are scripts or images that look like writing, but have no semantic content. For me, the pieces have the same mysterious pull of looking at lost languages like Linear B, Harappan characters, or Easter Island’s rongorongo script, or even deciphered ones like Ancient Egyptian or Mayan hieroglyphs.

Today, the NP-L published five of my asemic writing pieces, which I made using a brush and India ink back in November 2017. I’m calling them “poems” but they could be prose poems, short stories, or grocery lists. Ultimately, it’s a type of visual poetry. You can check out the pieces here.

“After the Guillotine” text and video poem published in Five-2-One

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Literary journal Five-2-One usually appears in print, but its daily supplement, The Sideshow, appears online. My poem “After the Guillotine” appears there starting today in text and video formats. The video features my reading of the poem, along with an electronic backing score. Warning: grim subject matter may not be appropriate for all audiences! You can view it all here.

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3 Gonch poems and 5 Gonchlog images published in Word for/Word journal

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Word for/Word is an online journal of experimental poetry that just released its issue #32. Lots of interesting text and visual poetry to check out. It includes three of my Gonch poems, “Cachallanog Agaal,” “Nagan Halloch Cohl Llonagga,” and “Llaanaganallo Hacla Chagalnach Aglacoa,” as well as five images from the Gonchlog. You can read them here; just click on my name in the far right column on the front page.

The text pieces come from a series of new works using a vocabulary limited to words invented from the nonsense phrase “All Gonch.” It’s an attempt to create a new language, imagining also the culture behind it through the shape and structure of the words, that might arise after the death of the current (American) culture and language.

The images are part of another phase of the Gonch project I call the Gonchlog. In this process, I search through consumer magazines and cut out the five letters of “gonch,” then glue them onto accounting paper. The source, its date of publication, and volume number are noted. The intention is to draw out that key nonsense word from these commercial propaganda vehicles in order to find a way forward.

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3 text pieces and five video stills in Otoliths #51

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Always an event when a new issue of online experimental poetry round up Otoliths is published. Today, the journal’s 51st issue was released, marking Southern Spring (Australia), containing a who’s who from the international experimental poetry scene. Vispo, text works, hybrids, you name it.

This issue offers a selection of my work, including five stills from the video “Silenced Scribes” (view them here), and a selection of three texts from a new series tentatively called “Robot Speak”: “Cattle Check,” “Then It’s Time,” and “Ready America.” You can read them here.

These three texts form part of a new series of experiments inspired by the Facebook AI units that recently developed their own language using English words with different syntax and meaning. The AI units were intended to carry out customer service transactions and negotiations, and the format of their language seemed to be a powerful way to confront and manipulate the continuous stream of commercial messages invading our mental space.

Further, they represent an attempt to replicate a machine code constructed from an extremely limited vocabulary, often initiated by spam emails. Each piece develops by permutations, repetition, and sound/rhythm. It’s impossible for the human observer to know if the machine is analyzing or tabulating data, performing a calculation, conducting a negotiation, or making a persuasive appeal. Any of these functions is a possibility. In a way, the texts are a form of speculative fiction: looking at a machine narrative pulled from a future where AIs have been released to perform functions on their own. As in the case of the Facebook AIs, these instances show a machine or machines adapting human (English) language for their own ends. The repetition of the key words imitates a transactional language, as if a carnival barker is repeating an appeal to a potential audience. But the end result also reminds me of a magical incantation appealing to a familiar spirit.

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