Monday, August 30, 2010

Bidoun Magazine's Library and Brion Gysin at the New Museum (@ Art21)


Also moving in the exhibition were documentary materials tracing Gysin’s longtime friendship with William Burroughs who, in a video included in the exhibit, laments that Gysin’s work was not more supported and economically rewarded in the artist’s lifetime. Among these materials were Burroughs’s film collaboration with Gysin, Towers Open Fire and a series of letters and papers responding to Gysin’s discovery of the “cut-up” composition technique. Though I have long heard repeated Burroughs’s famous dictum that language is a “virus from outer space,” I don’t think I fully understood the meaning of this phrase before encountering his letters with Gysin regarding cut-up, in which Burroughs argues for a kind of writing that will not only provide language with a new content (software), but which may actually change the hardware.

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