MISTRANSLATIONS: mini-interview with Sofia Kaloterakis

Sofia Kaloterakis (1995) is a researcher, writer and poet based in the Netherlands. She graduated from the RMA program Media Arts and Performance studies at Utrecht University with a thesis on the science-fictional origins of the idea of techno-scientific progress. Her art and research are a continuous exploration of fictional universes, philosophy of science/language and experimental poetics. She has published and exhibited different types of work including short stories, poetry, video poetry but also research papers internationally.

Your path to asemic writing is interesting, can you talk about this a bit more? 

My path with writing started when I was 14 but I only published my work much later when I was around 24. By that time, I had moved to three different countries and written in three different languages. This fact played a role in my experimentation with the asemic form, even though it is not the only style that I work with. Since I had friends and relatives everywhere, and I wasn’t translating all of my pieces, I started looking for literary forms that could be read equally by all of them…

I discovered all these experiments with gesture and gestural abstraction and tried to work on this idea after the contact improvisation jams I was doing together with my friends. I felt that the potential of the asemic form lies in capturing elements of an experience on a symbolic level instead of literally describing it. 

I believe that creating linguistic symbols is, from the very origins, a very creative process that involves many parameters such as giving shape to speech, gestures and communication. With the asemic writing even though it is called a-semic (without semantics) is like re-entering into a semantic field of endless possible combinations.

Do you feel digital media helps you explore asemic writing?

So, as I said in the previous question, in the very beginning I was trying to capture gestures or abstract layers of communication and I was doing this through hand-writing. I always find it the most immediate way to imprint a feeling…but then for the final edit of the work the digital media is a great tool to add to the process especially because they are fast and efficient in many ways. I use them in this sense, to finalize the pieces that I make mostly by hand-writing on a paper or tablet.

Do you consider asemic writing to have no language or multiple languages?

I find that asemic writing definitely involves multiple languages or more accurately multiple forms. This multiplicity makes me think of how language when spoken actually creates a form of perceiving the world through sound and shape, which is shared with others, like with music or design. We are collectively sharing and using the same patterns of rhythm. 

I am interested, for example, to show with asemic writing how language is made of such patterns of rhythm. The piece ‘Hosha Transcription’ published here in Sparking Tongue Press refers to an artificial language I am creating for the purpose of a science-fiction mockumentary placed in the year 2.173. 

In the asemic re-presentation, I am really trying to go deeper on the process of creating the language, which for me feels like being a seismograph that captures vibrations in real-time.

Sofia features in our inaugural MISTRANSLATIONS issue which you can read here. She also posts on Twitter and Instagram.


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