Sunday, December 1, 2019

Invented Scripts - a brief on Asemic Writing

Visual poetry as the name suggests is visually appealing, probably the first thing one would notice before the text. That makes poetry all the more exciting, I guess. There is of course double interest in the written words and the intentional form that is mostly based on the theme. It could be a recognizable pattern or a free form that could range from poems exploring handwriting, scribbling and scrawling, abstraction and illustration, mathematical equations, asemic and pansemic writing with invented scripts, xerographic pieces, material process, colour and collage, crossings out, forgotten notes, found text, interaction between paper and pen-ink, geometric poems, inarticulate poems and minimalism and the list may go on. In short, it is something like raw poems or Poem Brut. It’s more experimental in nature and your imagination can run wild creating all sorts of patterns/forms with concrete words using different typography as well. There’s a play of intermedia as well in the current times with digital formats being available and made easy. You can see earliest examples in the Metaphysical poet, George Herbert’s “Easter Wings” and the radical experiments of e e Cummings poems like “In Just” etc. The movement is said to have drawn inspiration from Dada and Surrealism. One can see examples in the works of Joan Miro’s “Le corps de ma brune” (1925) and Piet Mondrian's incorporation of Michel Seuphor's text in “Textuel” (1928).

My inclination here is more towards Asemic writing as of now. As mentioned it’s more of an invented script, an impression or shadow of the conventional writing personal to the poet but having an effect on the reader all the same. It’s a kind of pseudo or mock writing like what the children do even before they begin to write actual words. We see them do it all the time, it’s natural. Some even have pictograms and ideograms in it and the meaning isn’t rigid. It’s open to interpretation and each interpretation can be the perfect one. The most important aspect is that it is not bound to any language and the knowledge of a particular language is not essential to understanding the writing. It’s beyond all those barriers and yet able to relate to words and meaning. It bridges the void where words fail. Simply put, it is something you can’t read. There are calligraphers from circa 800 CE like Zhang Xu and Huaisu who have practiced illegible writing; it is not something that sprung up in the modern times though the variations and mediums have just widened beyond belief.

Andrew Topel From Letters Patterns Structures-HuesnShades

Andrew Topel’s Letters Patterns Structures

Mary Ellen Solt’s Forsythia-from Brittanica
Mary Ellen Solt’s Forsythia

Abstract calligraphy, Concrete Poetry, controlled scribble, doodles, earliest writing, experimental calligraphy, ideograms, illegible writing, Inism, jazz writing, Kandinsky shamanism, Ungno Lee letter abstracts, Mail Art, André Masson automatic drawings, Henri Michaux alphabets narrations, mock letters, pseudo writing, scrittura asemantica, Austin Osman Spare sigils, Taoist magic diagrams, Cy Twombly’s works, Vinča script, Made Wianta calligraphy period, Zhang Xu wild cursive,  Luigi Serafini's Codex Seraphinianus  and several more come under asemic writing.

Man Ray, Kandinsky, Henry Michaux, Max Ernst have all experimented asemic writing at some point of their creative career.

Michael Jacobson’s blog TheNew-Post Literate is an impressive treasure-trove of Asemic writing. I read about him at Asymptotejournal. Some Asemic writers/poets include Tim Gaze, Geof Huth, Erik Belgium, Michael Jacobson and many more. I am just starting out and new to this scenario and have a lot to learn about the people and the works here. So please excuse me if there are important omissions but then do let me know so that I can include it as well.

Michael Jacobson - Page 1 from The Giant's Fence
Michael Jacobson - Page 1 from The Giant's Fence

Tim Gaze
Tim Gaze

Now that you have a general idea and a sense of what this is all about, let me show you a couple of works that I did. I can not share my favourite ones here though as I have submitted it elsewhere. These are the most recent ones from my booklet project (the second one). Glimpses from the first are on my Instagram. I took these pictures while the sun was setting and I loved the shadow it created through the glass door. What do you think?

 Aurora-Asemic poem-HuesnShades

Euphoria-Asemic poem-HuesnShades

Serendipity-Asemic poem-HuesnShades

These two are from my first booklet:

Epiphany-Asemic poem-HuesnShades

Talisman-Asemic poem-HuesnShades

I did a lot of readings from different sites like Asymptote Journal, Michael Jacobson, Asemic writing, Wikipedia, Geof Huth blog, Andrew Topel blog, Richard Kostelanetz, 3am Magazine, Poetry Foundation, Litro, Brittanica, Power Poetry, Hyperallergic, Script and a couple more random articles before I wrote my piece. 

So, have you heard of Asemic writing/poems before? What do you think of it? Do let me know your views, thoughts and ideas.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Inspiration Strikes The Posterwala! - "My Creative Day" with Jayaram Ramachandran

"Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last, you create what you will." -George Bernard Shaw

These are some of the words I live by. To me, posters are not just colours on a piece of paper or photographs of people with no meaning at all. To me, a good poster is like an invention that has meaning, emotion and essence of the subject, using just the right hues and designs. As someone very rightly said, "A picture says a thousand words."

Banglaore Days-Jayaram Ramachandran-HuesnShades

Very often people ask me where I get my ideas from and to be honest, I have no idea when an idea will strike and in what way, shape or form. The other day I was trying to think of a design for a book on Mr. Abdul Kalam for Bloomsbury and I just couldn't get anything. Then something came up and I had to get out of the house. I was in my car, on the road and in front of me was an auto on which there was a picture of Mr. Kalam and beside the picture, it was written, "You have to dream before your dreams can come true." That triggered a million other thoughts and I got my answer. That's the weirdest thing about being creative, you never know when inspiration is going to strike you! Sometimes you think you have an idea about what you're going to do but you just need that link that can get you a clear picture, and in my case, the auto was the link I needed to de-clutter my thoughts and a get a clear picture. This reminds me of a Steve Jobs’ quote that goes, "Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things." The truth in his words is scary. But that's one of the things that gives birth to one of the most important aspects of design, curiosity.

“That's the weirdest thing about being creative, you never know when inspiration is going to strike you!”

I've been bringing my designs to life for about 18 years but one thing I've learned is that there's always something out there, something new, something bigger, something better. And that's something one shouldn't be furious about, it's something one should be curious about. Newer the material, the more relatable it is, and the stronger the connection. But even with all the material, sometimes I lack inspiration and that's when I turn to music. Music is something that helps me get into the story and gives me the feel of it. And for me, music has been a very important part of my life from the beginning, being the son of renowned Carnatic musician Palai C. K. Ramachandran. But when it comes to my art, I turn to Mr. A. R. Rahman because I believe that no one can make you feel emotions through a song like him. My fondness for him started decades ago. As a young man, most of my friends dreamed to become successful doctors, engineers and businessmen but I made it my life's purpose to go to Chennai and just get a glance of Rahman sir. When in Chennai, I used to peek into his house from outside the gate to see him even if it was only for a second and I always had this photograph of him so that I could get an autograph if possible. I tried getting into concerts as well and I tried many other ways to just get a glimpse of this man's face. Decades went by and it had been a few years since I made my mark in the industry. One day my friend from the industry called and said that we needed to meet someone but he wouldn't tell me who. We went in his car and when we were halfway there, I knew where we were going. I was on my way to fulfilling young Jayaram's dream, only this time, I didn't need to peek. Turns out "my inspiration" wanted inspiration to design the logo for his KM College of Music! I finally met my idol, took pictures as proof that I met him, not to show anybody else, but to prove to myself that all that wasn't just a dream. At our next meeting, I took the same photo I used to take to his house when I was a young man peeping from the gate and got his autograph on it. The old, faded, fragile photo, all of a sudden became all the more valuable to me. Dreams take time to come true but in the end, they do come true after all, and that's what is important. 

“Dreams take time to come true but in the end, they do come true after all, and that's what is important.”

As an artist, I'm hungry for inspiration, and inspiration exists from the smallest to the biggest of things. You'll never know when nature will inspire you. You'll never know when your friends and family or even a stranger for that matter, will inspire you. You'll never know when you will inspire yourself. If this inspiration adds to your originality, then you are unstoppable. Creativity neither has a beginning nor an end. My journey as an artist is a journey without a destination and of the thousands of images in mind, till now, this journey, with its twists and turns, has made the most unforgettable design in my mind. To more inspiration, to more surprises and to more autos giving me great ideas!

“If this inspiration adds to your originality, then you are unstoppable.”

Here's a video of  "Aliveni Enthu Cheyvua Mahesh Raghvan musical featuring Meera Sreenarayanan and Sreeram Ramachandran
Directed by Jayaram Ramachandran
Written by Jayaram Ramachandran and Sreeram Ramachandran

Jayaram Ramachandran-HuesnShades

Jayaram Ramachandran who has a passion for colours saw himself getting into fine arts as a student and later into graphic designs. Movies always beckoned him and that led him to Ace Cinematographer-Director, Santosh Sivan. He never considered posters as a mere advertising tool but for him, it is a platform through which, he is able to express the movie maker’s thoughts and fantasies about their piece of art. He started his poster designing career with a few Hindi films and multilingual art films. It is through the Malayalam movie Pazhassiraja in the year 2009 that he gained immense recognition. He runs his Design shop Posterwala Design Company in Chennai and assists Mr. Santosh Sivan in various projects.

This is the second episode of the mini-series "My Creative Day". You can check out the FIRST POST by clicking the link.