In the late 1950s and early 1960s, a group of artists and writers stayed at a run-down hotel in Paris that came to be known as the The Beat Hotel. Their proximity to one another produced some incredibly creative artistic cross-pollination. The Beat-generation creatives living there were experimenting with drugs, sex and creativity, and setting the stage for the countercultural revolution that came later.
One artist living at the hotel was Brion Gysin, who came up with an idea called cut ups, where he cut into books or periodicals with a precision utility knife and pasted the cuttings on a piece of paper, producing something entirely different. People whose work he cut up and reused were sometimes upset about this repurposing of their carefully crafted words, according to author Barry Miles in his 2000 book, “The Beat Hotel.”
You can see a similar dynamic at play today with the repurposing of artwork and words through the use of generative AI. In an analogous way, it has created a tension between artists and a new generation of creators, just as Gysin’s work did at the dawn of 1960s counterculture.