an ongoing series of multi-media, concerts, videos and sound recordings that explore the language and prophecy of William S. Burroughs on the merging of body, media, and machine.
“A new way to approach daunting text” - The Review Hub
For an hour we were bombarded with a story of sorts, broken up and reassembled. The sound played, rewound, stuttered, and while Crane was doing a LOT of work, there was also something about it which seemed effortless, flowing naturally from the man, through machines. - Geist
PuSH Festival 2/16 & CultureHub/La Mama 12/16
TICKET THAT EXPLODED
Mount Tremper Arts 7/17 & Pioneer Works 7/19
The Chocolate Factory 6/24-7/9 2023
“Decoding the Reality Studio” PAJ 125 (2020) pp. 1-20.
“DECODER 2017: Cutting up the Reality Studio”
an article presented and published for the Ammerman Center’s Bienniel 2018 Art and Technology Symposium
DECODER is a Creative Capital project and has received commssioning support from Gibney Dance and Theatre Conspiracy; a research grant from Stony Brook University; and development support from a CultureHub MicroResidency, Playwrights Theatre Center, the Collapsable Hole, Mabou Mines, Pioneer Works and a Watershed Lab residency at Mount Tremper Arts, with lead support by the National Endowment for the Arts. DECODER was also created and supported (in part) at The Watermill Center—a laboratory for the arts and humanities (2019) and with a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant and a Collective Fund grant. DECODER has recieved an Indepednent Artist Comission from NYSCA for deisgner Jim Findlay and sound artist G Lucas Crane and is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature. The full series (Soft Machine, Ticket That Exploded and Nova Express) is being commissioned by the Chocolate Factory where it will premiere in 2023. DECODER is co-produced by the Chocolate Factory, Restless NYC and the Collapsable Giraffe.
THE SOFT MACHINE, THE TICKET THAT EXPLODED, NOVA EXPRESS, and THE JOB by William S. Burroughs. Copyright © [for SOFT: 1961, renewed 1966; for NOVA: 1964, renewed 1992, 2013; for TICKET: 1962, renewed 1964, 1967; for JOB, 1969, renewed 1970, 1974], used by permission of The Wylie Agency LLC.
ORIGIN STORY by G Lucas Crane
Before I was a ‘musician,’ I was a young poet and a literature student. I studied Oulipo and William Burroughs expressly out of an interest in cut-up methods of writing, hoping to ‘honestly’ consider how the human mind translates and synthesizes its influences. I was inspired by the character in Burroughs’ “Nova Trilogy” who has to break into the “Reality Studio” and splice a tape into the film feed to break the mind-control of the ruling class. At the time of Burroughs’ writing, in the 1960s, tape recorders were the way to fight the hegemony of reality via a simple principle: recording something “fixes its nature”, gaining dominance over time (because it cannot be forgotten) but losing the chance at re-interpretation (recordings are made for a reason, and those reasons become self-fulfilling).
These techniques, that I borrowed from books from the 60s and transported to the 90s, completely took over my life. I became the tape manipulator, dealing with anti-temporal and anti-fidelity operational aesthetics in musical collaborations. The tape equipment became a musical instrument that I practiced, which came from a Burroughs technique of ‘examine and screw with reality’ and fed directly into reconstituted media Turntablist DJ practices. This practice became an attempt to deal with aesthetic brainwashing, and the techniques used by the characters in the Nova Trilogy to fight aliens have stark contemporary usefulness in the era of social media driven internet culture.
Now, via this Decoder 2017 project, I have a lingering sense that I have become a character in the “Nova Trilogy” - the Subliminal (aka the Intolerable) Kid. The name “Decoder”, is taken from a 1984 west German film inspired by Burroughs’ 1970 manifesto, The Electronic Revolution that instructed the youth to use tape recorders to cause civil unrest. In the film William Burroughs plays a tape repair technician. The plot of the movie is consumed with the spiritual and social results of artistic/musical experimentation and discovery, and fantastically mirrors what I personally experienced as young ‘noise’ musician circa 2000-2008, that of practically realizing that the power to break reality is within anyone’s grasp, and that the tech to do it with is cheap and plentiful. It’s only a question of technique and mindset.
There is a scene in the movie where Jaeger, the protagonist, kills a frog and records its death croak, using tape equipment to loop and explode this sound into a musical table with literally magic effect. I had been making music like this for 5 years before I saw this movie. These techniques have become a basic aesthetic approach of the young artist awash in constant mind gripping media. Burroughs’ techniques which were fanciful, sci-fi, cyberpunk, and experimental at the time are almost natural, common sense artistic approaches today. In the movie, Jaegers discovery is dark magic. To me, he was a rational noise punk from, say, Columbus or Oakland.
Additionally, the tag ‘2017’ situates the piece specifically in a time. We named the piece in 2015. At the time of naming it was meant to evoke a futuristic prophecy. But time goes on. I was going off a dream, that 2017 would be ‘the omen year’ a year of dire portent. Now that time has caught up with us with the election of Trump. Today, the Nova Trilogy and its techniques are suddenly shockingly relevant.