LSD Rush

LSD burst open a portal in my brain, revealing a mirrored cathedral. An initially blinding experience, purely visual. Then words seeped in. In part, a conditioned response, stemming from a human need to defuse emotion through rationalizing reflected realms inside us. For what are visionary states but inner reflections of outer reality? Perception exits in degrees. LSD ratchets up organs of perception, so much so that it causes severe distortion...and illumination. We dampen the impact with our command of language. This is something I struggled with for years and years, since first taking LSD as a teenager. I honestly don't think I would have become an artist if it hadn't been for LSD.

Of course, I am far from the only artist inspired by LSD. One great thing about the web is that it allows instant access to websites containing art from all over the world. While surprisingly few websites are, like Illumination Gallery, devoted almost exclusively to art created for the web, there exist several beautiful art sites that make excellent use of the web. One such site belongs to Alex Grey. I felt a connection to the digital representations of his paintings and drawings, sensing we shared some similar influences: William Blake, M. C. Escher. His is a mystical vision based on viewing the human body as an organic temple, a living light source meant to be tapped in reverence. On the simplest level what he does is layer psychelic drugs atop Blake, then siphons it all through Eastern mysticism. It works artistically because Blake, psychedelia, and Eastern mysticism represent a natural convergence...and because Alex Grey is a talented artist, albeit one who is very different from me.

I was slightly blown away by the fact that Alex Grey and I were born within two weeks of each other in 1953 at opposite sides of the globe, he in Columbus, Ohio, I in Budapest, Hungary. We are both Sagittarius, yet while we may share certain artistic/chemical influences, we couldn't be more different spiritually. Judging from the art and writings on his website, Alex Grey has embraced Eastern mysticism - if not fully, then at least to a considerable extent. I remain under the sway of the Judea Christian tradition in which I was raised. Of course, part of me rages against this tradition and therein lies the deep difference between my work as an artist and Alex Grey's. It comes down to a negative versus a positive vision, mine being negative, his positive. Note this has everything to do with my Western notion of good and evil. I fully realize Eastern philosophy/religion rejects such a notion. I also realize this notion cuts to the core of who I am as an artist.

A pivotal experience in my life was dropping acid as a teenager and visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Peaking on acid, I walked the galleries of the Met, finding myself overwhelmed by paintings from previous centuries. Paintings transformed into membranes of color and light that I could feel vibrating. Thankfully, I didn't completely lose it and get tossed out of the museum or taken away by the police. No, I retained enough control to make my way out of the museum and into Central Park, where I sat down on a bench, closed my eyes and enjoyed the remainder of my trip. What made this experience transformative? The gamut of emotions I encountered. Really, it had nothing to do with gaining any kind of insight into life or art. What proved mind altering was the introduction into my psyche of an internal light source that defined perception not by its presence or absence, but by its countless shadings. Illumination and darkness became palpable, a basis for an artistic vision. I didn't change my way of thinking...rather, I learned to visualize the formulation of my thoughts, which, decades later, led me to develop the animated text form.

LSD Rush, the animated text running above, is an attempt to come to grips with my experiments with LSD. It requires a high-speed Internet connection.

© 2005 Peter Schmideg

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