Brion Gysin is Alive and Well and Living on the Bowery

He is that he is, and is that he is he.

Brion Gysin: Dream Machine

New Museum 7/7/10–10/3/10

http://www.newmuseum.org/exhibitions/422

As one of the most intriguing contemporary artistic Shamen of the 20th century, who believes as Brian Eno does– that art serves a purpose we have not evolved into yet.  As a painter, a novelist, a magician, a subversive, inventor and a restaurateur, he never really achieved commercial success, and still chugged along as though life was just another short-term gig,  just passing through.

I was first exposed to Gysin through my love of Burroughs, where I read  Gysin’s “The Process”, which was a most uncomfortable book to read, only because it was the first novel that ever read ME.    There’s the old Nietzschen phrase of staring  into the void that stares back, but to capture this in book form is downright pornographic, or retro-voyeuristic–like watching yourself being watched like a cam2cam, but about fifty years before computers.

I wandered into the New Museum on the Bowery, nearly a contradiction of terms, to chat up the ticket taker and make my way to the second floor, where Brion’s work commands respect.  Split into several rooms on the second floor, one stands amid the encased and numerous notebooks while being assaulted by one room of his film, “Towers Open Fire!” while in another room, his public performance of his sound poetry plays to a slide show in a darkened room.  The guests seemed to have little in common, save for this obscure artist of word and image.

Gysin made a point in an interview conducted by Genesis P. Orridge-Breyer wayback when where he mentioned that his paintings were best viewed when stoned, since he was stoned himself while creating it.  Thereby the art, when viewed by the stoned, recreates the mind-senses of the artist in the viewer and acts as a clean telepathic link between time, space, and mind.  Of course it sounds like hippie talk until it happens to you.  Surrounded by the paintings and collages resemble floor plans, architectural layouts, Max Ernst-esque landscapes–mixing in with lines of Arabic, French, or English.  But I’d researched all this before and other people are better at hyping up art.  I was here for The Dream Machine.

Epileptics need not apply.

In a small black room in the middle, various throw pillows surrounded the cylindrical twirling object. An art school girl sat with headphones to my left, while an old New York hippie sat smiling opposite, also wearing headphones, as The Museum supplied music which enhanced the kaleidoscopic qualities of the vision-creating device.  Calligraphy lined the inner chamber.  I sat down before the legendary object and closed my eyes.  I was unusually self-conscious about partaking in this, the way some would submit themselves to an i-doser tune.  The flicker device allows the mind to enter a dreamlike state, giving the individual waking dreams.

Like this on an Imax in strobe effect.

It was almost a shame to end it.  For a few minutes after, I felt as though my eyes were still vibrating from the experience.  There’s a few sites online that claim to be digital Dream Machines, by turning flickering a white screen, but these often feel harsh as opposed to the smooth contours of the original.

I left, alone into the bright streets, but somehow feeling Gysin walking with me through New York, taking his favorite roads, mapped out by a painting.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: