Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cataloguing Ubu, and links to Gysin's audio works

Gysin with William S Burroughs and the Dreammachine, 1966

Brion Gysin -- artist, writer, multimedian -- once commented on his many projects that the art world thought of him as a writer, and the writers thought of him as an artist. "I should have been one or the other," he said in one interview, when he had taken on another mantle -- "the world's oldest living rock star," onstage in his eighties. The inventor of both the poetic cut-up technique and the Dreammachine (which was, briefly, considered for production by Phillips Electrontics back in the heady days of the 1960s) seems be getting some well-deserved attention at The New Museum and accompanying features at Kenneth Goldsmith's UbuWeb media resource.

Brion Gysin - An Audio Retrospective (1958-81) Recently honored by a exhibition at The New Museum in New York, UbuWeb presents the full scope of Brion Gysin's sound poetry and audio works. Included are his seminal permutation poems from the early 60s such as I've Come To Free The Words and I Am That I Am as well as lectures on various subjects such as Thoughts On Modern Art. The historic Poem of Poems (1958), recorded at the Beat Hotel in Paris and considered one of Gysin's important experiments in cut-up and recording technique, is available for download, as is his more ambient works such as The Pool K III (late 1950s, early '60s) and Bruits du Beaubourg (1977). Finally, a posthumous 1993 recording -- Self-Portrait Jumping -- of Gysin's songs, poems and stories, are set to music by Ramuntcho Matta and performed by Brion Gysin and Ramuntcho Matta with Don Cherry, Elli Medieros, Steve Lacy, and Lizzy Mercier Descloux. You can read interviews with Gysin here and here, as well as William S. Burroughs' The Cut-Up Method of Brion Gysin. And you can view a demonstration of Gysin Permutation Software here.

Cataloguing Ubu

In its pages, the site UbuWeb "posts much of its content without permission; we rip out-of-print LPs into sound files; we scan as many old books as we can get our hands on; we post essays as fast as we can OCR them. UbuWeb is an unlimited resource with unlimited space to fill. It is in this way that the site has grown to encompass hundreds of artists, hundreds of gigabytes of sound files, books, texts and videos."

Margaret Smith's valiant efforts to archive the sprawling UbuWeb are a continuing project. Smith undertakes the job as site archivist for her Masters in Library Science at Syracuse University; more can be read about her ongoing work, with an excerpt from the project overview below.

"UbuWeb is a collaboratively curated website which includes thousands of historic and contemporary avant-garde texts, sound recordings, moving images and related curatorial and analytic commentary. Founded in 1996 by poet Kenneth Goldsmith, it has grown to be a vast educational resource, providing online access to an obscure yet vital aspect of the cultural record that would be, in many cases, otherwise lost.

The initial goals of this project were to propose improvements to UbuWeb’s navigation and content access, and to introduce a plan for archiving and preservation."

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