BY JEREMY SHERE
This October 7–11, the organizers of last year’s The Burroughs Century festival are putting on a new event — Wounded Galaxies: Festival of Experimental Media. The name comes from a line in the William S. Burroughs’ novel The Soft Machine. According to the organization’s website, the festival is one in which all forms of media are cut-up and recombined “at the juncture of sci-fi, magic, and the radical deconstruction of all media forms.”
What exactly does this mean, and what does it have to do with Burroughs?
“If we see magic as an attempt to alter one’s perception of reality, then the overlap between science fiction and media deconstruction becomes more apparent,” says festival coorganizer Charles Cannon. “For Burroughs, reality, as perceived by the average citizen, is a tightly woven web of lies, an illusion created by the powerful to keep people docile. Burroughs felt a debt because his maternal uncle was one of the founders of modern advertising and public relations, and Burroughs wanted a kind of counter-magic to fight the manipulation by ad men.”
Festival events include a free public lecture by avant-garde musician and composer John Zorn, live musical performances, and film screenings.
While the performances range broadly in style and media, Cannon says, they share Burroughs’ and other experimental artists’ fascination with “what the Situationists [an international collective of anti-authoritarian artists active from 1957 to 1972] called détournement, in which the message of advertisers, governments, and other sources of manipulation are subverted and turned into weapons to use for liberation.”
For the festival organizers, Wounded Galaxies is part of their effort to revive Bloomington’s experimental art and music scene. “We have gathered an amazing lineup of improvisational and experimental musicians, film series, and events, the likes of which has not been seen in Bloomington before,” Cannon says.
For more information about Wounded Galaxies, including a full schedule and prices, visit woundedgalaxiesfest.com.