THE BLOG
10/05/2011 07:59 pm ET | Updated Dec 05, 2011

The Outer Limits of Visual Experience

I have always had a fascination with the outer limits of visual experience -- outsider art, mental illness and art, psychoactive drugs and art. What happens as artists when our "cerebral reducing valve," as Aldous Huxley termed it, is stuck in the open position? How do we classify these works in the canons of visual art? Do we in the West tend to undervalue the visionary, the hallucinatory, the spiritual in art?

Rather than trying to answer these complex questions, I've put together a series of videos that addresses some of these issues and, I hope, provides food for thought.

If you follow the instructions on the screen of this first video, you will experience a brief and very real visual hallucination at the end. Nothing scary pops out at you. If you are prone to seizures or are afraid of this sort of thing, I suggest you skip this video.

This next video is about a series of nine drawings done by an artist under the influence of LSD 25 as part of a government research program in the 1950s.

This video tells the story of English artist Louis Wain (1860-1939) who was well known for his anthropomorphized drawings of cats. He developed late-onset schizophrenia at the age of 57 and continued to draw increasingly psychedelic cats.

This last video is of Chinese choreographer Zhang Jigang's Thousand Hand Bodhisattva (Guan Yin). While technically this is a dance performance, I think you'll agree that it qualifies as an intensely visual experience.


Cross-posted from Jane Chafin's Offramp Gallery Blog