about


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tldr: 

I have spent my life working with words. I studied words. I wrote words. I designed words. I painted words. And now I spurn them.

In the late 1990s, I founded a design agency in London and ran this for over ten years, working with corporate clients on their words. In 2011, I began an art practice (under a different name) taking words onto the streets of London. Over twelve years, this distinctive art featured in numerous exhibitions.

After experiencing a lack of faith in the words seen around me during the Covid lockdowns, I began experimenting with non-semantic, post-literate writing. I realised this work needed a life of its own, so I began a separate, digital practice under the name altgnon in late 2022.

This work now focuses on my love/hate relationship with language using traditional calligraphic and lettering techniques combined with a deconstructed digital compositional process.


in depth:

The story behind my art takes me from typography student, to accessible designer, to street artist, to fine artist and finally to asemic, abstract artist. 

I was always fascinated by typography. I studied letterform design, along with graphic art and signwriting. At college, I admired the post-modern deconstructions of David Carson and Neville Brody. Over the years, I veered away from design and have slowly gravitated towards post-literate disintegration.

As much as I love letters, I am increasingly drawn to William Burroughs’s idea of language being a ‘virus from outer space’. We struggle with language. It’s inherently limited and limiting. For example, if I say I am something, the implication is that I am only that, and also that I am permanently that. Today’s world is more fluid. On Twitter the other day, I saw some astute person state that ‘text is a bad medium’ for some types of communication. That made me smile.

We also live in the age of ‘fake news’, where language is increasingly misused to spread powerful lies - always read between the lines folks. So, I followed a line from Ed Ruscha to Jasper Johns to Cy Twombly, and ultimately came to gestural, unreadable, text in the form of asemic writing. 

From Zhang Xu, through Cecil Touchon to Jim Leftwich, I see a nice fit with the tolerant, global language of asemic writing and web3. So, in Sept 2022, I began a new web3 career, decontructing, obfuscating and writing unreadable, asemic text. Asemic promises no fake answers. Asemic tells no lies. Asemic allows space to think.

Since 2011, I have worked as a street artist and a fine artist and I have exhibited regularly. But I would like my new digital work to sit separately, hence the anonymity and a new name. This is for two reasons. Firstly, my physical art is different. It looks different and it carries a different message. Yes, there are connexions, but these will remain personal to me for now. Secondly, I am entranced by the web3 space and my digital work is directly influenced by the empowering and democratic nature of the decentralised space - and the anonymity afforded by it.

Partly due to my street art background, my digital work balances urgent post-literate gestures with a time-eroded patina and a personal shorthand, an echo of street tags over layers of street wall texture.

I am building a body of digital work which threads writing-without-words into digital-native, painterly abstracts, which embrace the pixel. There will be 1/1s and editions, across multiple blockchains. With some added secrets and extras.

I am very pleased to have been invited to be a member of the Flannel Collective and to be in the sixth cohort of the Vertical Crypto Art Residency.

@altgnon 
2023