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ZENGA
by Richard Biscayart

We introduced Richard in our last issue through his haiku and colored drawings in an "old world" style. This time his portfolio is all black ink on a white background and employs imagery that reflects his study of Zen while in Taiwan. The experimental component is the calligraphy. When I wrote Richard to ask for translations, he replied that they're asemic writing or scattered writing, and gave me an entry in Wikipedia as explanation:

. . .The word asemic means "having no specific semantic content". With the nonspecificity of asemic writing there comes a vacuum of meaning which is left for the reader to fill in and interpret. All of this is similar to the way one would deduce meaning from an abstract work of art. . . Multiple meanings for the same symbolism are another possibility for an asemic work.

Or, in the words of Tim Gaze at Asemic Magazine, "It looks like writing, but we can't quite read it." I knew about children's pseudo writing, about pseudo-scripts in ancient and medieval art, the Surrealist artists' and poets' explorations in pseudography, and abstract expressionist Mark Tobey's "white writing" (also born of zen and calligraphy), but when Richard told me the overarching name for it, I did not know how interesting a subject it is. The implications for haiga—an art of open text/image linking—are huge. Do a browser search on "asemic writing" or click on the hyperlinks above, where you'll find plenty of material to get you started.

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Richard has taught English as a second language in Spain, Taiwan and Canada. He is now in Milford, Delaware where—as the school website says—he "brings a wealth of both multicultural and linguistic skills to the Milford School District." More of his work may be seen in Daily Haiga and Sketchbook, and on an innovative participatory site called "La Fovea".