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Tuning in to the Multimedia Age edited by Jose Ferez Kuri / Gysin, Brion ; Burroughs WS ; Corso G ; Brett G ; Heidsieck B ; Zurbrugg N ; Giorno J ; Artaud A ; Barthes R ; Beckett S ; Bowles J ; Bowles P ; Breton A ; Chopin H ; Corso G ; Dufrene F ; Eluard P ; Ernst M ; Ferlinghetti L ; Filiou R ; Ginsberg A ; Hanson S ; Higgins D ; Janicot F ; Knowles A ; Maciunas G ; Patchen K ; Stein G ; Tzara T ; Williams E ; Miles B., 2003

Identifier: CC-43917-46026

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Scope and Contents

Brion Gysin (1916-1986) was a multifaceted artist whose fertile mind and wide range of original ideas were a source of inspiration for artists of the Beat Generation in Paris, as well as to innovative artists and performers such as David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Keith Haring, and Laurie Anderson in the next generation. Painter, writer, sound poet, tape composer, lyricist, and performance artist, Gysin is remembered particularly for his evocative paintings of the North African desert in the 1950s and his original calligraphic abstractions based on Japanese and Arabic scripts. The chance discovery by Gysin of the cut-up technique (later developed and refined by William S. Burroughs) and the concept of permutated poems gave rise to new and original forms of sound art wordplay, striking not only in print but also in recordings or live performance. Gysin's inventive ideas also extended to the Dreamachine and to collages of text and photographs. This is the first comprehensive publication on Gysin's achievements. It features reproductions of his paintings and graphics as well as examples of his permutated poems and other writings. Complete with first-hand reminiscences by his contemporaries, it generates the sense of excitement and experimentation that so captivated all who knew this remarkable artistic pioneer. With contributions by: Guy Brett, William S. Burroughs, Mohammed Choukri, Gregory Corso, Gladys C. Fabre, John Grigsby Geiger, John Giorno, Bruce Grenville, Bernard Heidsieck, Felicity Mason, Barry Miles, and Nicholas Zurbrugg.From Publishers Weekly: "Gysin (1916-1986) was a U.S.-born cultural provocateur whose first 40 years found him, after a Canadian adolescence, flitting from career to career, as poet, painter, set designer (he assisted Irene Sharaff on a sheaf of major Broadway musicals in the 1940s), historian of the system of slavery in Canada and international gadabout in the homosexual coterie of Paul Bowles, Denham Fouts and Cecil Beaton. When he became involved with William S. Burroughs at the so-called "Beat Hotel" in Paris in 1959, Gysin made a leap into literary and hipster history by inventing the "cut-up," joining together ripped sections of newspaper to form a nonlinear yet theoretically readable text. (Burroughs used this method, he claimed, in writing his novels The Soft Machine and Nova Express.) Gysin also invented the "Dream Machine," a strobe-heavy sort of orgone box designed to drive its users into the systematic derangement of the senses foretold by Rimbaud. The debate about Gysin will always be whether he was a lightweight gadfly or a great Leonardo-type genius with tragically limited appreciation of his accomplishments. This book, coming out of a 1998 Gysin retrospective at the Edmonton Art Gallery, includes a plethora of Gysin documents and suggestive texts by a variety of art writers and Gysin geeks, should put Gysin's detractors on the defensive. He did everything, and most of it's here: He showed with Picasso, posed for Carl Van Vechten, led Brian Jones to the Pipes of Boujouka in Morocco, preached the gospel of kif, recorded a kind of spoken-word jazz with Steve Lacy and used the Dream Machine to help design dozens of abstract "calligraphic" pictures (among 195 color and 60 b&w illustrations here). The individual reader, of course, will decide whether it all means anything-or everything."Gysin's "Roller Poem" 1977, held by the Sackner Archive, is depicted on page 139; an explanation of the method to create the work is written on pages 164-167. -- Source of annotation: Marvin or Ruth Sackner.


  • Creation: 2003



0 See container summary (1 soft cover book + 2 pages (fold-out) (240 pages)) : illustrations (mostly color) ; 25 x 25.5 x 1.7 cm

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English

Physical Location

box shelf

Custodial History

The Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry, on loan from Ruth and Marvin A. Sackner and the Sackner Family Partnership.


Published: London, England : Thames and Hudson. Nationality of creator: British-American. General: Added by: RUTH; updated by: MARVIN.

Repository Details

Part of the The Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry Repository

125 W. Washington St.
Main Library
Iowa City Iowa 52242 United States