Allan Kaprow & William Burroughs

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Allan Kaprow & William Burroughs

  1. 1. Allan Kaprow “ Happenings” & William Burroughs “ Cut-Up Method” – Referencing The New Media Reader, Wardrip-Fruin & Montfort
  2. 2. “ Happenings” in the New York Scene appeared first in Art News, 1961. “ Cut-Up Method of Brion Gysin” appeared first in A Casebook on the Beat, 1961.
  3. 3. About Allan Kaprow 1927 - 2006 <ul><li>“ Happenings” were a milestone for emergence of interactivity in art because they broke down distinctions between creator/author and audience. </li></ul><ul><li>Compares/connects with Boal’s theatre insofar as it gives responsibility to the observer – making observers “spectactors.” </li></ul><ul><li>Kaprow’s anti-hierarchical formulation of art is similar to Ted Nelson’s formulation of computing – subversive and “sticking it to the MAN.” </li></ul><ul><li>Performance art and Installation art was heavily influenced by his work. </li></ul>
  4. 4. “ Happenings” history and place in art (1) <ul><li>(According to Kaprow) Comes from three influences: </li></ul><ul><li>1. Sophisticated, witty pieces put on by theatre people (eg Peter Brook’s interpretation of Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty). </li></ul><ul><li>2. The sparcely abstract, Zen-like rituals given by writers and musicians, eg John Cages, 4’11” </li></ul><ul><li>3. Some have a history that goes back to Surrealism, Dada, the circus, all the way back to medieval plays and ritual. </li></ul>
  5. 7. “ Happenings” history and place in art (2) <ul><li>Happenings are events that simply happen. </li></ul><ul><li>Make no particular literary point and have no structured beginning, middle, and end. </li></ul><ul><li>Occur in “Found spaces” -- lofts, basements natural surroundings, and there is no separation of audience and play. </li></ul>
  6. 8. <ul><li>Happenings have no plot, no obvious philosophy, is materialized in an improvisation, like jazz. </li></ul><ul><li>Much like the process of contemporary abstract painting where one does not know what will happen next. </li></ul><ul><li>The element of “chance” is key because it implies risk and fear. A Happening cannot be reproduced. Contains “Aleatory” Elements. (Roger Callois, John Cage.) </li></ul><ul><li>Its activity embodies the myth of non-success, for Happenings cannot be sold or taken home, they can only be supported (and chronicled!) </li></ul>
  7. 9. About William Burroughs 1914 - 1997 <ul><li>Adding-machine fortune heir, junkie, homosexual, Jewish/Buddhist, killer of his wife – the most challenging and complex of the Beat writers. (Montfort) </li></ul><ul><li>Who was Brion Gysin? –He was a performance artist and besides experimenting with cut-ups, he invented the Dreamachine , a flicker device designed as an art object to be viewed with the eyes closed. </li></ul><ul><li>The Cut Up Technique was based on earlier experiments of the dadaists and surrealists </li></ul><ul><li>Burroughs used this cut up method in the process of revising The Naked Lunch. </li></ul>
  8. 10. Mixed reviews <ul><li>Jack Kerouac called Burroughs the &quot;greatest satirical writer since Jonathan Swift, a reputation he owes to his &quot;lifelong subversion” of the moral, political and economic systems of modern American society, articulated in often darkly humorous sardonicism.” </li></ul><ul><li>Norman Mailer declared him &quot;the only American writer who may be conceivably possessed by genius.” </li></ul><ul><li>Novelist and critic Anthony Burgess panned Burroughs work saying it bored readers with repetitive episodes of pederast fantasy and sexual strangulation that lacked any comprehensible world view or theology. </li></ul>
  9. 11. <ul><li>(According to Burroughs) The cut-up method brings to writers the collage which has been used by painters (and moving camera) for 50 years.” </li></ul><ul><li>Writers and photographers will tell you that often their best shots are accidents. </li></ul><ul><li>Cutting and rearranging a page of written words introduces a new dimension into writing enabling the writer to turn images in cinematic variation. </li></ul><ul><li>Cut-ups can be applied to other field – Van Neuman introduced cut-up method of random action into game and military strategy: assume the worst has happened and act accordingly. </li></ul>
  10. 12. Your Links <ul><li>Allan Kaprow Inspired Happening </li></ul><ul><li>Cut-up Method of William Burroughs. </li></ul><ul><li>BlackEyesPeas Flashmob Happening </li></ul><ul><li>Flashmob for Peace </li></ul><ul><li>“ Aleotory ” viewing of Kaprow /Burroughs montage. </li></ul>

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