In 1960, it was the time when cultural events were frequent.
From Apollo’s moon landing, lesbianism's civil right movement, and to Vietnam war.
Many people got a concern about truth and freedom in the world as well as their own life which created a counterculture called hippie. A nature was part of them and they thought of unconstrained emotions more than ethic which helped to create more liberating and vibrant arts.
Among all of these arts, there was LSD in the foundation.
In 1938, Dr. Albert Hoffman from Switzerland was studying blood accelerator and found the substance called LSD-25. However, it was not the substance he wanted so he stopped and left the research as it is. Later on, Dr. Hoffman felt the potential of LSD-25 and he resumed the studying. After he accidentally took a small portion of the substance, he had his first time experience of hallucination while riding a bicycle on his way home like any other days which then is called to be the Bicycle Day among hippies.
‘The world was a series of fantastic pictures and kaleidoscopic intense colors, things you see could be heard and things you hear could be seen. When the experience was getting near to end, my head started to be clear and I realized the reason of life which caused me to have a positive energy.’ He found out the same experience happens to experimenter and there was no physical abnormality except expansion of pupil so he began to sell it for the research and mental therapy. It was easy to get LSD provided in universities for the study and test, ordinary people could easily be participated in the test.
In 1963, in the midst of research and test about hallucination, Dr. John Riley offered John Lennon and George Harrison from Beatles LSD during dinner. ‘It felt like I’ve gained hundreds years of experience in 12 hours. I felt strong that we could go over the wall we had. Our perception was changed.’ They experienced eastern philosophical phenomena such as no borderline between men and women and the appearance of multiverse and more. It was a big role for Beatles to expand their musical world. Since then, with a fascination of Indian culture they made more experimental music in the middle of making the new album “Revolver”. Steve Jobs from Apple stated that LSD experience was the most important moment in his life. He who was a real hippie had a profound interest in LSD as a creative tool and for Apple job interview, he included the question of hallucination experience to interviewees.
(Human be in, 1967)
During days in 60s which is the time full of insecurity and anger, some professors and intellects were sure of mental recovery based on LSD experience to lead chaotic sentiment to peace in America. They highly supported a legal use of LSD. However, American government mentioned about impulsive behaviors to stop the use and produced LSD on their own. In 1966, they hosted Trips Festival which combined hallucination experience and rock concerts and opened ‘Human be in’ speech in 1967 which talked about resistance of established culture and capitalism. This was the beginning of official hippie movement.
(The Trip, 1967)
The footage of a movie 'The Trip', A reenactment of hallucination experience and hippie was well shown as well as that period of time.
(Poster design by Wes Wilson)
In 1966, as hallucination culture began, a graphic designer Wes Wilson designed posters of concerts that were with it.
The design which represented the period including running down like and distorted fonts and colors reminding of hallucination received a high praise and since then his style becomes the standard of 60s rock musicians’ album cover and concert poster. Also, pop artists who used elements of hallucination such as Peter Max, a graphic designer in Beatles’s Yellow Submarine, helped to complete significant textile design which represents swinging London. Later on, diverse types of designers found industrial potential of hallucination culture and used in interior, daily products, and other different types to express the emotion of the period.
An industrial designer representing 20th century, Verner Panton’s interior design has a character of vibrant colors and pattern, surrealistic expression. For him, 60s is the important period because he gained his own philosophy and inspiration.
Next to hallucination culture’s beginning and end, there was always rock music. Making sound a visible color or pattern, sensing optic nerve to ear and more, LSD’s unique experience expanded senses which was a big contribute to create more fresh and experimental music. Legendary bands such as The Doors, Pink Floyd, Cream and more produced progressive, punk, hard rock based on that experience and made a root to current rock music.
This T shirt which shows colorful colors and mood well is a shirt of Grateful Dead who represents the hallucination culture. Using a Tie dying method which was 1920’s way, hippie culture’s appearance made a demand of natural dying clothing to increase and became one of design which represents 60s. This method continuously gave designers and brands an inspiration and gets recreated in various ways.
However, Charles Manson who caused a death criminal after using LSD made a change to a perception of LSD and hippie.
Conservatives who criticized radical attitudes of hippies who have a root of hallucination culture gained a power after Charles Manson’s case and based on this, president Reagan tried to break down hippies. The beginning point of hallucination culture which is Vietnam War was getting to an end and hippies became a target of violence and mock by skinhead who are influenced by punk culture. Hippie culture which is not community oriented but individual oriented lost the power to the period change. However, the culture which had a big influence still is an inspiration and tool for different artists’s to express.
Painter Alex Grey had a communion with scientifically unexplainable living thing and universe based on hallucination experience. In reality, he runs meditation center and likes to meditate with people frequently. An engineer who invented mouse stated, “I found the idea of mouse through LSD”. Hippies’ assembly place which was India’s GOA region created gore trance genre with electronic music. Dance music which gets comments that it sounds better when it plays with people’s emotion and is catchy is a significant pop culture that hallucination culture left.
(Art by Alex Grey)
With developing Artificial Intelligence, Google never got tired of showing what were imagined and analyzed a cause of optic nerve approaching the platform called 'Deepdream' which distorted and visualized images. This platform which is based on biological change is an interesting software that added hallucination culture to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Hallucination culture becomes in different types of art and ideas and makes our life richer. As time goes by, it spread to various fields. For example, *PCR skill which is very crucial in biotechnology. Katy Mullis a chemist who developed PCR said that he found the idea while he was on LSD and also added that without LSD he wouldn’t have found the idea of LSD. We were able to copy numerous numbers of DNA through PCR and made possible to have genetic test as well as determining STDs and incurable illness. Culture of hallucination’s influence became a main role for not only cultural wise but also human progress.
*PCR : a method widely used in molecular biology to make many copies of a specific DNA segment in a short time. It is used in genetic test and virus tests.
Through this article, I don’t want you to experience hallucination. However, the culture is very close to us than you could imagine. We can already choose and experience millions of twisted space time worlds and also make a society that individuals idealize. Game and internet are digital world of LSD and hippie community. People may look like they manage an ethical life in an organized community but hallucination culture is near to us in any kinds of form. As 90s computer generation has arrived, the center of hippie movement Leary stated that computer is a digital generation of LSD. Hallucination is an immortal thing which coexists in any form with us.