Federico Federici is one of the master practitioners of this interesting sub-genre. (He is also contributing to my long-held theory of Neo-Concretism.) That contemporary asemic writers and artists should benefit from the triumphs of the “Golden Age” of concrete poetry is, after all, an indication of healthy cultural evolution: a balance of tradition and the iconoclastic.
Working in the context of concrete poetry, Federico Federici uses type-overs (as well as some calligraphy) to generate asemic symbols and structures. I believe this is one of the most promising possibilities for the use of concrete poetry in the asemic realm: The generation of symbols and structures.
Federici also interjects words – mostly nouns – to allow for some degree of “reading” and association. A nature theme emerges: “TREE,” “weed,” “wood,” “leaf,” “deer,” “stone,” etc. The work can be read, but not strictly in a conventional sense. For instance, traditional syntax is lacking yet the sign-system is intact for individual words. Poetically, the work presents a severely fractured pastoral lyric that is neither highly Romanticized nor parodied.
The typewritten structure suggests linearity; however, I believe the piece requires a “depth-of-field” reading. (Both asemics and vispo require new kinds of reading.) One is directed to look into and through the dense layering (not across).
Federici’s asemic-concrete composition implies, I believe, that a “text” is a dense field of accumulated meanings. Meanings can be distorted, obscured or disrupted by others. Emotional response competes with rationality. Linear (conventional) reading is misreading and misleading. True understanding of the text involves seeing into its depth and layers of possibility. The play of these layers of meaning, in turn, creates new meanings. Federici’s work, indeed, uses a randomness principle. The precise geometry of concrete poetry obscures the randomness and creates a deconstructive tension in the work.
The asemic text demands a new kind of “reading” and finding meaning. Federico Federici’s work helps open new possibilities.