Monday, June 30, 2008

Burroughs Explains His Shotgun Art

Timothy Leary's William S. Burroughs shotgun art painting is still up for grabs to the highest bidder on eBay.

In an interview with Gregory Ego, entitled "William Burroughs & the Flicker Machine," as published in David Kerekes' 2003 "Headpress (the journal of sex religion death)," William explains how he made ths shotgun art painting, and others.

Here's is an excerpt from the interview:

EGO: Are you still doing your "shotgun art?"

BURROUGHS: Oh, all kinds. Brushwork. Shotgun. Paint. Knife.

EGO: What exact process do you use for your visual art?

BURROUGHS: There is no exact process. If you want to do shotgun art, you take a piece of plywood, put a can of spracy paint in front of it, and shoot it with a shotgun or high powered rifle. The paint's under high pressure so it explodes! Throws the can 300 feed. The paint sprays in exploding color across your surface. You can have as many colors as you want. Turn it around, do it sideways, and have one color coming in from this side and this side. Of course, they hit. Mix in all kinds of unpredictable patterns. This is related to Pollack's drip canvases, although this is a rather more basically random process, there's no possibility of predicting what patterns you're going to get.

I've had some I've worked over for months. Get the original after the explosions and work it over with brushes and spray paints and silhouettes until I'm satisfied. So, there isn't any set procedure. Sometimes you get it right there and you don't touch it. The most important thing in painting is to know when to stop, when everything is finished. Doesn't mean anything in writing.

EGO: It does rely to a high degree on chance -- the shotgun art?

BURROUGHS: It introduces a random factor, certainly.

EGO: Just like the cut-up method.

BURROUGHS: Yes. But you don't have to use it all, you can use that as background. There're a lot of other randomizing procedures like "marbling." Take water and spray your paint on top of the water and then put your paper or whatever in the water and pull it out and it sticks in all sorts of random patterns. And then there's the old inkblot. [Ruffles imaginary paper] Like that. Sometimes they're good only as background or sometimes you get a picture that you're satisfied with at once. There is no certain procedure.

EGO: Allen Ginsberg proposed to me that the cut-up technique you developed with Brion Gysin is a sort of counter-brainwashing technique. Do you agree with that?

BURROUGHS: It has that aspect in that you're breaking down the word, you're creating new words. Right as soon as you start cutting, you're getting new words, new combinations of words. Yes, it has that aspect, sure.

But remember that all this brainwashing and propaganda, etc., is not by any means expected to reach any intelligent corners. It isn't expected to convince anybody that has any sense. If they can get ten percent, that's good. That's the aim of propaganda; to get ten percent. They're not trying to convince people that have a grain of sense.

This photo is not from Tim's archive, but is rather from an interview with Gregory Ego, entitled "William Burroughs & the Flicker Machine," as published in "Headpress (the journal of sex religion death)" (2003).

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Come visit Tim's house, a trip to Dr. Leary's archived website

Dr. Leary embraced internet technology early on and saw the potential to build interactive online environments. He turned his home into a website where he welcomed visitors from all over the world with the simple greeting, "Hello I'm Timothy Leary, welcome."

A mostly functional version of from 1997 exists on the Wayback Machine. There you can explore the many rooms of Tim's house. In his Living Room you'll find the William S. Burroughs painting currently being auctioned on eBay. The hyperlinked painting directs the visitor to a brief bio of Burroughs which mentions his unique connection to tech history.
"William Seward Burroughs was the grandson of the founder of the Burroughs Adding Machine company, which evolved into the Burroughs Corporation and not too long ago merged with Sperry Univac to form Unisys."

Explore Dr. Leary's house further and you might discover the "Favorite Photos" section with the 1987 picture of Tim and William S. Burroughs featured as the banner for this blog.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Burroughs’ “Shotgun Art” piece

Leary was visiting the artist in 1987 when he was introduced to the art Burroughs was creating in his studio.

Shortly thereafter Leary received this piece from Burroughs as a token of their friendship. They remained friends until Leary's death in 1996.

The piece was on display in Tim's living room (pictured right) until it traveled with an exhibit by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

For Sale: Burroughs shot gun art piece from Timothy Leary's private collection

The estate of Timothy Leary announces a one-of-a-kind offering of a William Burroughs shot gun painting personally given to him by the artist.

Link to Ebay Auction

It is the visit depicted in the header photo above - taken on Burroughs’ front porch in Kansas in 1987 - where Leary was introduced to the art Burroughs was creating in his studio.

Shortly thereafter, William gave him this piece as a gift, which resided in Tim's living room. (See Photo Below.)

The piece wasn't sold with Tim's other art in the Christie's auction in 1996 because it was on tour as part of a Los Angeles County Museum of Art Burroughs exhibit at the time.