Tuesday, March 19

Drawing Under The Influence

LSD 25 is a pure clear liquid acid that is usually injected, dropped on sugar cubes or sprayed on paper (called blotter). It came about when Dr. Albert Hofmann (born in 1906) a Swiss chemist created the strangest chemical known to man, LSD 25. He first synthesized Lysergic Acid Diethylamide from ergot alkaloids in 1938, and, after tests on animals, found that the substance wasn't very interesting or helpful to his work. Five years later in 1943, Hofmann went back because he felt he missed something and, after accidentally ingesting the substance through his fingers, became the first human to ever experience the magical effects of LSD. Three days later on April 19, Hofmann purposely ingested 250 mcg of the substance. As of today, Hofmann is still alive and well at the ripe old age of 100 years! Wow!

These nine drawings were done by an artist under the influence of LSD 25 – part of a test conducted by the US government during it’s dalliance with psychotomimetic drugs in the late 1950′s. The artist was injected with doses of LSD 25 and had free access to an area with a bunk bed and activity box full of paper, crayons and pencils. His subject is the doctor that is injecting him with the doses of LSD.

This first drawing is done 20 minutes after the initial dose (50ug). The attending doctor observes – Patient chooses to start drawing with charcoal. The subject of the experiment reports – “Condition normal… no effect from the drug yet”.

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85 minutes after first dose and 20 minutes after a second dose has been administered (50ug + 50ug). The patient seems euphoric. “I can see you clearly, so clearly. This… you… it’s all… I’m having a little trouble controlling this pencil. It seems to want to keep going.”

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2 hours 30 minutes after first dose. Patient appears very focused on the business of drawing. “Outlines seem normal, but very vivid – everything is changing color. My hand must follow the bold sweep of the lines. I feel as if my consciousness is situated in the part of my body that’s now active – my hand, my elbow… my tongue”.

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2 hours 32 minutes after first dose. Patient seems gripped by his pad of paper. “I’m trying another drawing. The outlines of the model are normal, but now those of my drawing are not. The outline of my hand is going weird too. It’s not a very good drawing is it? I give up – I’ll try again…”

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2 hours 35 minutes after first dose. Patient follows quickly with another drawing. “I’ll do a drawing in one flourish… without stopping… one line, no break!”. Upon completing the drawing the patient starts laughing, then becomes startled by something on the floor.

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2 hours 45 minutes after first dose. Patient tries to climb into activity box, and is generally agitated – responds slowly to the suggestion he might like to draw some more. He has become largely non verbal. “I am… everything is… changed… they’re calling… your face… interwoven… who is…” Patient mumbles inaudibly to a tune (sounds like “Thanks for the memory”). He changes medium to Tempera.

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4 hours 25 minutes after first dose. Patient retreated to the bunk, spending approximately 2 hours lying, waving his hands in the air. His return to the activity box is sudden and deliberate, changing media to pen and water color. “This will be the best drawing, Like the first one, only better. If I’m not careful I’ll lose control of my movements, but I won’t, because I know. I know” – (this saying is then repeated many times). Patient makes the last half-a-dozen strokes of the drawing while running back and forth across the room.

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5 hours 45 minutes after first dose. Patient continues to move about the room, intersecting the space in complex variations. It’s an hour and a half before he settles down to draw again – he appears over the effects of the drug. “I can feel my knees again, I think it’s starting to wear off. This is a pretty good drawing – this pencil is mighty hard to hold” – (he is holding a crayon).

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8 hours after first dose. Patient sits on the bunk bed. He reports the intoxication has worn off except for the occasional distorting of our faces. We ask for a final drawing which he performs with little enthusiasm. “I have nothing to say about this last drawing, it is bad and uninteresting, I want to go home now.”

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Looking at this last drawing compared to the first in the group you can tell the LSD is wearing off. It’s not as polished as his first drawing after 8 hours on LSD the drawing conveys how tired he feels.

I don’t know about you, but my favorite drawing is actually number six when the subject is fully under the influence of the LSD. Number five is nice because he did it in a continuous line and that’s cool. All the drawings are quite interesting and you can clearly see how the dosages of LSD influenced the artist as the experiment was completed. I’d say the test was a success.

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