“It’s Here Can’t You Feel it?” : Questioning a Tripping (Updated)

Posted: January 17, 2011 in Uncategorized

(Update I and II, below)

“Inside….I don’t have a inside.  ….You have nothing to do with it. I am One with what I am.” Subject quote

Doing research for his new book (a group biography of British writers Aldous Huxley, philosopher Gerald Heard, and Bill Wilson, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous) Don Lattin comes across this interesting video of an LSD Experiment which was broadcast on US Television in 1956.

The researcher of the experiment Dr. Sidney Cohen (Veteran’s Administration Hospital, Los Angeles) doses volunteers with a glass full of LSD infused water and asks the subjects about their “thoughts and insights”.

“This whole room, everything is in color and I can feel the air.” Subject quote

Don Lattin’s : “The Harvard Psychedelic Club: How Timothy Leary, Ram Dass, Huston Smith, and Andrew Weil Killed the Fifties and Ushered in a New Age for America

“Can’t You see it?… I feel sorry for you.” Subject quote

Update I:

Adrian Piper’s LSD Work:

Adrian Piper, LSD Self-Portrait from the Inside out 1966

This series of paintings by the Conceptual Artist Adrian Piper, now titled the LSD paintings, was discovered by Robert del Principe and first exhibited in 2002 in Milan at the Galeria Emi Fontana (Adrian Piper Over the Edge, LSD Drawings 1965-1967). The paintings are said to have been carried out “under the influence” and tend to focus on Piper exploring her own bodily identity while in the altered state produced by the drug. Del Principe notes that this interrogation of the self with the drug was an early means for Piper to investigate the interactions of the self, representation and the “indexical” present. The drugs activations were a means for Piper to explore and deconstruct the representational maxtrix of identy:

Adrian Piper, Negative Self-Portrait 1965

And, of course, there’s the LSD. LSD, if anything rational can be said of it, alters our immediate (and arguably, long-term) perception of the world. Piper’s work, both artistic and philosophical, has always been preoccupied with the problem of representation generally, with immediate perception — what she calls the indexical present (the concrete immediate here and now) — and with the concepts that determine this perception. This is perhaps clearer in later work, but the early paintings and drawings reveal her emerging preoccupation with the indexical present. Here the breakdown, veiling, and unveiling of perception, represented with mosaics, disintegrating layers, and broken shapes and body parts, expose Piper’s nascent awareness of the importance of the concept and its role in determining our experience. The influence of LSD, both real and in the use of what is now viewed as prototypical psychedelic imagery, highlights the failure of the conceptual framework of perception and the revelation of possible alternate realities. In this light, then, the early paintings and drawings can be understood as representing a first step, an “awakening,” to a lifelong examination of the power and fragility of the concepts that determine our experience.

Adrian Piper LSD Void 1966

Adrian Piper Over the Edge: An Introduction  by Robert Del Principe. Check out the entire series, and Pipers impressive research archive and site.

Adrian Piper, Alice and the Pack of Cards 1966

Directly after this early series Piper was to become interested in the work of the conceptual artists of the period (1967 to 1970) and applying her concerns with the presence of the body and consciousness she work on a diagrammatic system and language which could be generated by the indexical and its possible alternative mappings. This resulted in the Hypothesis: Situation series (1968–1970) which gave a descriptive vocabulary and construction to the interties of individual modalities and habitual social patterns. The 70’s began Pipers investigations into the social overdetermining (and misdirecting) constructions of the self, including the complicit issues of race and gender, which was to be the direction of her work from that moment to the present.

Adrian Piper, Self-Portrait Exaggerating My Negroid Features (1981)

Update II:

A bit “tongue in Cheek” this rundown of the best drug-induced discoveries talks about Francis Crick’s  inspiration of the double helix (spiral staircase) structure of the  DNA molecule with the help of LSD.

In 1953 in Cambridge, Crick burst through the front door of his home spouting what his wife Odile originally thought was crazy jibberish about two spirals twisting in opposite directions from one another. Like all great rock star’s wives, Odile was an artist, and drew exactly what her husband described.

About the drug and its use it appears that Crick never made it a secret that he experimented with the drug, and in 2006, the London paper The Mail on Sunday reported that Crick had told many colleagues that he was experimenting with LSD when he figured out the double helix structure.

Like most of the fans of LSD, Crick was a great admirer of Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception, which concluded that the conventional, habitual and sober mind has a series of filters on it that basically prevent abstract thought (evolution put them there for the sake of survival, since having daydreams about the nature of the universe while driving can cause you to plow into a semi). But Huxley and Crick thought drugs like mescaline and LSD could temporarily remove those filters.

Crick was following the lead of thinkers like Huxley and Timothy Leary (of the period) using  LSD as a way to gain access to the freer, and more boundless portions of the mind which others denigrate as formless and problematic.

  1. maaretta says:

    Haha. That woman in the video was having a grand ol’ time.
    Don’t believe these paintings were made under the influence of drugs. Too well organized and constructed for that to be true. I think she made these paintings after her drug trips, i.e. she painted the things she remembered seeing in her trip.

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