Tag Archives | Brion Gysin

The Photographs of William S. Burroughs

William S. Burroughs Photography

In a recent post I mentioned the January opening of the new photography exhibition Taking Shots: The Photography of William S. Burroughs. I’ve just received a copy of the catalog and I’m planning a review of the volume in an upcoming post or on an episode of Coincidence Control Network.

In the meantime, here is a very insightful little overview of the show featuring the curators at The Photographers Gallery, London. While Burroughs’ paintings are well-known, his work as a photographer is just beginning to be examined and understood. This interview was shot during the installation of the exhibition and it reveals Burroughs’ work behind the camera to be both an extension of the cut-up techniques he developed with the artist and writer Brion Gysin, and the even earlier aesthetic lessons Bill learned as a boy studying the flower arrangements his mother created for their St. Louis home.

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Superman is a Rocker: Robert Pollard and the Third Mind

PenetratingAbout six months ago, I spontaneously started contemplating the nature of using the cut up technique popularized by William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin to tap into what they referred to as the “third mind”. This automatic introspection occurred while I was perusing through the incredibly brilliant re-assembled art books of Robert Pollard. Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve been a Guided By Voices nut for quite some time, but I’ve never honestly written about this particular obsession or where it stemmed from before, and so I had an idea of combining these two things into one utterly bizarre piece of music writing.

Vivian, the editor of Redefine didn’t really get it, and neither did I consciously, but it was something I felt compelled to hash out nonetheless. Truth be told, I just don’t think any other writer did the band’s 2012 reunion albums justice, or had accused them of practicing a sort of unconscious witchcraft for that matter.… Read the rest

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Words of Advice from William S. Burroughs

BigBurroughs Gun

WSB haunts the entirety of counter-cultural curation like the grey eminence he was often portrayed as, but, it’s important to note that Burroughs rarely portrayed himself this way.

I thought I’d seen every Burroughs documentary, but this one was news to me.

Words of Advice: William S. Burroughs On the Road is  a 1983 documentary that finds the Beat Generation icon touring Scandinavia, signing books and giving readings of works like The Place of Dead Roads in his inimical, laconic snarl. Along the way, he waxes philosophical about cats, Hiroshima, Brion Gysin and the illusion of duality. He’s polite and hilarious throughout.

Here Burroughs bemoans the high cost of death in ancient Egypt:

Watch the full movie at the Snag Films website.

Stay Awake!

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William S. Burroughs: Paint it Blacker

As many readers of these here illuminated letters surely know, the great author/Beat ghost/junky/exterminator William S. Burroughs also added the title of “painter” to his resume before his death in 1997. He began painting in his later years while living in Lawrence Kansas, but his relationship with painting and painters began much earlier.

I like to trace Burroughs’ origins as a painter back to his 1959 meeting with Brion Gysin. Gysin was also a polymath and his written work is as underrated as his paintings were during his lifetime. Gysin died in 1986 and while his sometimes-stunning prose has yet to be reconsidered, the publication of a few great books and the organizing of gallery retrospectives have seen his visual art getting the respect it deserves all these years later. Of course, Burroughs was way ahead of the curve: “I don’t think I’d seen painting until I saw the painting of Brion Gysin,” he once snarled.… Read the rest

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Interview with ‘Selections From the Dream Manual’ Artist Michael Skrtic

Dream Manual: Try This Experiment at Home

Via Technoccult:

Klint Finley: What possessed you to undertake this process of creating a collage painting for every line of Bill’s original Dream Manual?

Michael Skrtic: The Dream Manual appeared first in 1984 or 1985 in a magazine called The Negentropy Express, which was an APA (an amateur press association) by the Society for Creative Thought. I was one of the founding members of the Society for Creative Thought and I was immediately taken with Bill’s original text and the original short little collage things that he did to accompany the text. It sort of followed me around since then. In the early 90s, I had just moved to Stockholm and I was looking for a project. I thought, ah, I know what I’ll do, I’ll colorize Bill’s original collages, so I blew them up and I colorized a couple of pages, and then I got involved with something else.

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Brion Gysin: ’80s TV Star

I spy with my little i...

I spy with my little i...

Nothing is True. Everything is Permitted.

The wonderful Brion Gysin was a writer, painter, filmmaker and restaurateur. He was a friend and collaborator to William S. Burroughs. Burroughs said of Gysin, “He was the only man I have ever respected.”

If you are a frequent reader of these posts, you are no doubt already familiar with Gysin. However, despite several recent publications and a new tour of his visual art, the man remains elusive.

We were really excited to find this footage of the master at work. This video is from a late ’80’s pirate TV show out of London, England called Network 21. This is a rare chance to see Gysin’s paintings come to life as he rolls out patterns and grids before piling on layers of text and calligraphy.

The man has a way with a line…

This Network 21 episode also features: Kenny Morris talking about dreams and Genet; a Mayakovski film; a photoshoot with the Rolling Stones in drag; footage from a tattoo convention in 1985; an excerpt from Warhol’s “Trash” with Joe Dallessandro and The Sex Pistols’ famous appearance on the Bill Gundy show.… Read the rest

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