‘The Cut-up’

Originating from Tristan Tzara and the original Dadaists, and later popularised by the painter Brion Gysin And ‘Beat’ author William Burroughs. The ‘cut up technique’ is an aleatoric literary method in which lines and pages of text are literally ‘cut up’ and re-arranged to form new passages of text. Closely related to the ‘cut-up’, is the ‘fold-in’ technique developed by Burroughs. The ‘fold-in’ is where two pagesimage

of linear text are folded vertically, placed next to the other, and read across the page conventionally, resulting in a new passage of text.

Originally used by the Dadaists who preached ‘Poetry is for everybody’. Tristan Zara would randomly pick lines of text from various different sources to form poems. The technique was later used by artists and painters such as Gysin, who interpreted the technique to form the ‘Collage’ technique. Having been introduced to the ‘cut-up’ by Gysin, Burroughs applied the technique throughout his career and famously wrote ‘The Nova Trilogy’ with the method.

Often used to encourage a ‘free-er’ approach to creative practice, the method takes it’s place next to other aleatoric creative process such as improvisation, chance procedures and John Cage’s ‘indeterminate processes’. Burroughs famously once said, ‘you can’t will spontaneity, but you can encourage it with a pair of scissors’.



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