The influence of drugs, especially psychedelic drugs, on art has always fascinated me.
Drugs have been the catalyst, if not the inspiration, for countless works of art over the centuries that have captured the masses. Without the element of this specific type of debauchery, so much of our artistic canon could never have come into being.
How else, for instance, do you think of this album cover for Santana's Supernatural?
Or this music video by the French band Justice, a chaotic ode to the city of Paris?
It's easy to see the influence that drugs in all their permutations have influenced art, but which drugs? What doses? What circumstances? My inner geek justs begs for a control group to test out the drug spectrum and see what parts of the brain each ingredient sticks to. A single artist, painting an identical self-portrait dozens of times to illustrate the effects of each....What's that, Good magazine? You read my mind perfectly.
Since March 30, 1995, multimedia artist Bryan Lewis Saunders has done one self-portrait per day, every day. When that started to get boring, Saunders began taking drugs of all types to liven up the work, a process he says has left him with brain damage.
Saunders is still doing his self-portraits today, though he'll now only take drugs if they are administered by medical professionals for valid health issues. Regardless, the results of his endeavor are a fascinating glimpse into how different chemicals shape our perceptions of self.The artist's idea was to test the environment's effects on the subconscious and use his brain like a canvas. You can only be soberific so long when you're painting nearly 8,000 (!!!) self-portraits over the course of a decade. Here are some of my favorite of his artistic ahem..."experiments":
|Ambien - looks like it's not working...|
|Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, and Xanax - this is what art looks like when you can't feel your face...|
|Absinthe - monochrome (and cubist?)|
|Adderall - The artist is both literal and distracted :)|
|Cocaine is a helluva drug...|
|Two bottles of cough syrup later - wow, this guy had a bit of a death wish!|
|Sweet Jesus crystal meth...|
|Dilaudid and morphine - industrial grade gangsta...|
|Morphine meets Easter Island?|
|Huffed gasoline - this is probably what his brain cells feel like!|
|Mushrooms - wow, what do those bubbles mean? Cosmic...|
|PCP - the one you should never, ever do|
|Pot brownies! Duhhhh|
|Pot resin hits - jeez, I wonder what he cleaned his bowl piece with...|
|Salvia - arguably his best work!|
|Ritalin is just unpleasant...|
|Good old mary jane!|