Way Out Is Way In


4 mins

In homage to William S. Burroughs

3 metres high, 60 cm diameter

Painted steel solvent drums, 3 phase motor, inverter and programmed speed and direction control chip, halogen lighting.
5 words from Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs

Liliane Lijn, 1968

The physicist David Bohm, whose seminars Lijn attended in the early 1970s said that ‘Matter is ‘frozen light’. Light, defined as something travelling at the speed of light, contains all information.’ This led Lijn to understand that light and language were indeed inextricably interconnected.

In Way Out is Way In, Lijn combine the two main elements of her early work, light and text, in a column of luminous words made from points of light, borrowing a phrase from William Burroughs’ The Naked Lunch considered to be Burroughs’ seminal work. In common with Burroughs, whom Lijn met in Paris in the early 1960’s, she has a lifelong interest in science and technology. Lijn’s interest in science, again much like his, was connected to her early interest in ancient civilizations and their myths and rituals.

The 3-meter column is made from used industrial drums that are programmed to rotate at steadily increasing speeds until the words, a tracery of drilled holes, blur into vibrating pulses of light. In Way Out, the word becomes light and light slowing down appears as the word.

Filmed during exhibition, Space – Time, curated by Grainne Sweeney, National Glass Centre April- August 2009

Edited with Richard Wilding

Voices: Liliane Lijn, Richard Wilding