Drawing Language: Experimental Scores, Drawings, & Asemic Writing Masterclass

Drawing Language: Experimental Scores, Drawings, & Asemic Writing Masterclass

Explore the intersection of writing, drawing, music, and performance as we create new work, adjacent to language.

This masterclass reads, listens to, looks at, and experiments with various forms of inscription at the intersection of writing, drawing, music, and performance, specifically, through graphic scores, Asemic writing, performative scores, and other forms of drawing in proximity to language. 

Drawing and writing both negotiate linearity and its subterfuge. Both tussle with (in)direct communication and emotional expression, with clarity and opacity. They can be gestural and as such point to the body, to performance. ‘Language has a body and the body has a language’, Benjamin writes. How do we acknowledge this body in this act of drawing out language, imagining its gestures, movements, or sounds? What does the material ask of us? Drawing in particular establishes a relationship to time: the time it takes us to make a piece (dashed off or painstakingly pondered over), the time it takes to read or look at it, and then perhaps also to perform it. 

Many artists in the 1960s submitted the written word to visual manipulation, treating it like paint or clay. Composers, in turn, subverted the Western notation system of the clef and staff. Such open forms of notation allowed for greater variation in interpretation. And yet, there’s room for remits and rigour. For constraint. For precision, for intention, for commitment. Sometimes this type of notation and composition can be meditative, comedic, instructive, at other times, therapeutic, or deeply philosophical. 

Some writers/artists/theorists/musicians we will study: Renee Gladman, Mirtha Dermisache, Tim Ingold, John Cage, Xu Bing, Bernardo Ortiz, Shahzia Sikander, Christine Sun Kim, Nina Papaconstantinou, Guy de Cointet, Vilém Flusser, Roland Barthes, Mira Schendel, Cilla McQueen, Cathy Berberian, Mieko Shiomi, Unica Zürn, Jennifer Walshe, and others. 

While gestural and deeply embodied on the one hand, experimental scores and Asemic forms of drawing-writing also push towards abstraction, and in that abstraction perhaps give us a place for feeling that’s not previously determined. As Andrea Fraser notes about Fred Sandback’s abstract minimalist sculptures, in this removal of the artist, she finds: ‘a place for me’, ‘a transitional space’, a ‘place of affective possibility created by work that doesn’t ask me to feel, and so, I think, allows me to feel, and to be alone, in the presence of this art that’s so quiet and still, and makes too little in the way of demands’. 

We will search for these transitional spaces of affective possibility, of philosophical enquiry, and of experimental generosity—always mindful of and pushing back against any claims for universality, purity, or authority. 

Anyone is welcome—no prior knowledge of music, performance scores, Asemic writing, or drawing is necessary. The masterclass encourages a wild and messy and exuberant spirit of exploration.

Masterclasses are an expanded version of our International Courses, with a much deeper consideration of technical craft and critical theory. These 12-week courses (maximum 10 places) are for advanced students only, and fluency with poetic language and ideas will be assumed. There are no live chats and they are suitable for UK and International students.  

To apply for a concessionary rate, please send relevant documentation showing your eligibility for one of our concessions to administ[email protected]. Conditions of eligibility are detailed here. If you have any questions or wish to be added to the waiting list of a sold-out course, please email [email protected]. For more information visit our Online Courses page. 

Image credit: Scott Robertson

About Sophie Seita View Profile

Sophie Seita is a London-based artist, writer, and researcher whose work explores text in its various translations into book objects, performances, videos, or other languages and embodiments. She’s performed or exhibited her work at the Royal College of Art, [ SPACE ], La MaMa Galleria (NYC), Bold Tendencies, the Arnolfini, JNU (New Delhi), Kettle’s Yard, Parasol Unit, Flat Time House, Art Night London, Kunsthalle Darmstadt (Germany), Taller Bloc (Santiago de Chile), and elsewhere. She has also received funding and fellowships from Arts Council England, the British Council, Canada Council, Creative Scotland, a-n, Dover Prize at Darlington, Brown University, Yale, Princeton, Columbia University, Cambridge University, PEN America, Lambeth City Council, among others. She’s the author of Lessons of Decal (87 Press, forthcoming Dec 2023), The Gracious Ones (Earthbound Press, 2020), My Little Enlightenment Plays (Pamenar, 2020), My Little Enlightenment: A Lecture Performance (Other Forms, 2019), and Provisional Avant-Gardes: Little Magazine Communities from Dada to Digital (Stanford University Press, 2019). Other work has been featured in Ma Bibliothèque, Bloomsbury Publishing, Bomb, Bricks from the Kiln, Jacket2, The TLS, Manifold: Experimental Criticism, TDR, The White Review, the Chicago Review, and 3:AM. She is a Lecturer in the Art Department at Goldsmiths, and also co-organises the interdisciplinary Sound/Text seminar at Harvard (hybrid, for international audiences) with Alex Rehding and Aleksandra Kremer. More information about her performances, publications, workshops, and collaborative projects can be found on her website:  https://www.sophieseita.com/. 

'I have been introduced to the writing of poets I may never have otherwise come across, both in terms of the study materials and my fellow poetry students. It has been life changing on a really intrinsic level. I have met and formed friendships with poets across the world and across generations - hugely enriching!'

- Spring 2023 survey response

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