Gysin introduced the author William Burroughs to the technique at the Beat Hotel. The pair later applied the technique to printed media, film and audio recordings in an effort to decode the material’s implicit content, hypothesizing that such a technique could be used to discover meaning.
In the 1950s United States, media was industrialised. As now, it often normalised consumerism and encouraged conformity. Cut ups offered a way in, a method Gysin and Burroughs could use to examine the mass media and the social norms it promoted.
‘First Cut-Ups,’ ‘Minutes to Go,’ and ‘Cut Me Up * Brion Gysin’ (1959–1960) were among Gysin’s first experiments with the cut-up technique of writing. The book Minutes to Go resulted from these initial works.