typography as a building block in world-building practices
Asemic writing is a wordless, open semantic form of writing that is international in its mission. The word asemic means "having no specific semantic content", or "without the smallest unit of meaning". With the non-specificity of asemic writing there comes a vacuum of meaning, which is left for the reader to fill in and interpret. The secret is that asemic writing is a shadow, impression, and abstraction of conventional writing. It uses the constraints of writerly gestures and the full developments of abstract art to divulge its main purpose: total freedom beyond literary expression. The subcultural movement surrounding asemic writing is international because the creators of asemic works live all over the world.
Martian alphabet by Hélène Smith late 1800s
Hélène Smith was known as "the Muse of Automatic Writing" by the Surrealists, who viewed Smith as evidence of the power of the surreal, and a symbol of surrealist knowledge. In one of Hélène's experiments in the late 1800s, she came with the Martian script as an abstract fictional writing system to communicate with the inhabitants of planet Mars.
Asemic writing in world-building
In this part of the workshop, we introduced the participants to the possibilities of using asemic writing in world-building, introducing famous examples in literature and film making.
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1892 – 1973) was an English writer, poet, philologist, and academic, best known as the author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. For his famous novel "Lord of the Rings" John Ronald developed 24 different asemic scripts for an immersive world-building experience.
Another famous example was the Klington language developed for the famous series "The Star Trek Universe" (Late 1960s). Klingons were swarthy humanoids characterized by prideful ruthlessness and brutality. Klingons practiced feudalism and authoritarianism, with a warrior caste relying on slave labor and the fictional script came trying to reflect the nature of the characters.
More recent use of asemic writing was in the American movie "The Black Panther" (2018). Wakandan Script designed by Hannah Beachler based on Nsibidi symbols one of the oldest oldest form of writing in Africa between about 400 and 1400 AD. Wakandan script was not only used as a visual element in the world building but was also used to on screen then switches to English translation to immerse the viewers into the Afrofuturist world of Wakanda.
During the workshop, the participants were introduced to the technicalities of lettering, mixing between the use of digital tools and tools making, inviting the participants to use objects and tools from the surroundings mixed with ink as a tool of making. Following a session of sketching and drawing, we introduced a simple introduction to the font-making app Glyphs and we started a process of making an actual digital font using the asemic shapes created by the participants.
TypeLab is a typography-focused alternative learning and experimentation platform at Sandberg Instituut.
TypeLab aims to create an open, accessible, and inclusive space for knowledge and skill-sharing between Sandberg Instituut/Gerrit Rietveld students and the outside world in the shape of workshops, discussions, and consultations.
Believing in the necessity for inclusive learning and open knowledge, all events and activities will be archived and documented on online platforms, in order to open-source education to all Type fanatics inside and outside the school.
TypeLab is managed by Mohamed Gaber and Farah Fayyad as part of PUB, a trans-departmental initiative founded and run by Sandberg students with the hopes of establishing collaborative publishing practices at the university.