An Enhanced Collection of Generative AI Images to Commemorate the 80th Anniversary of the Discovery of LSD
“AI on Acid” is an experimental conceptual art project by visual artist Glen Wexler who is best known for creating digitally enhanced photocompositions of improbable situations featured on hundreds of album covers.
This body of work is an adaptation of the seminal research project “LSD & Creativity” by Los Angeles psychiatrist Dr. Oscar Janiger, who first experienced LSD in 1953 when its manufacturer, Sandoz Pharmaceutical, was seeking medical uses and marketing opportunities for the powerful drug. Impressed with the possibilities, Dr. Janiger embarked on the study of LSD as a catalyst for creativity. The research encompassed all the arts and involved people from all walks of life. Some of the luminaries who participated in the controlled sessions while under the influence of LSD were Aldous Huxley, Alan Watts, Jack Nicholson, Cary Grant, James Coburn and Andre Previn.
From 1958 to 1962, Dr. Janiger’s research included the study of the effect of LSD on creativity in the visual arts. A Native American Kachina doll displayed in his office was often the subject for his participants to paint or draw. “AI on Acid” endeavors to recreate the results of the artworks created in the study by using a high-resolution photo of the Kachina Doll from the original study along with reference works created during the study as visual prompts for the machine intelligence to generate new unique works. The reference works inform the AI of the artistic styles and medium used in the original study. Wexler selects various outcomes for the AI to remix, and he processes the generative results to individually enhance in Photoshop.
“Following my recent documentation of nearly 300 works from the original study in preparation for a coffee table book about the artwork from Dr. Janiger’s study, it’s remarkable to see machine intelligence produce results that are randomly unexpected, yet similar to abstract interpretations of the artists in Janiger’s study, ranging from colorful representations to full-blown hallucinogenic deconstructions.
Wexler observes, “Following my recent documentation of nearly 300 works from the original study in preparation for a coffee table book about the artwork from Dr. Janiger’s study, it’s remarkable to see machine intelligence produce results that are randomly unexpected, yet similar to abstract interpretations of the artists in Janiger’s study, ranging from colorful representations to full-blown hallucinogenic deconstructions. It occurred to me that the psychedelic experience bypasses the ego and frees the mind to make unexpected neural connections resulting in an altered perception of reality. In a similar manner, artificial intelligence, which presumably is void of ego, is making random associations based on millions of data points. Now more than 60 years following the research project, it’s curious to see results that include the Kachina Doll reinterpreted as a Yoda-like figure.”
Dr. Oscar Janiger (1918-2001) was a pioneering American researcher of the psychedelic drugs LSD and DMT. He was the author of “A Different Kind of Healing” and the co-author of “LSD, Spirituality, and the Creative Process.” Janiger’s groundbreaking studies depict an important moment in the history of consciousness and reveal the innate creativity of humanity.
Janiger practiced psychiatry and instructed medical students and residents for more than fifty years. He was an associate clinical professor in the department of psychiatry and human behavior at the California College of Medicine, University of California at Irvine.
Glen Wexler is a visual artist best known for his elaborately staged photocompositions of improbable situations. Works are included in the permanent collections at the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), and Palm Springs Art Museum, and have been exhibited worldwide including the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.
At 22-years old, Wexler photographed his first album cover for Quincy Jones Productions while a student at Art Center College of Design. He embraced opportunities in the music industry where he found a visual playground in which to hone his craft and vision. Album cover credits include Van Halen, Rush, Black Sabbath, ZZ Top, and many others.
Commissioned works include hundreds of advertising campaigns including Acura, Activision, Adobe, Coca-Cola, Maxell, Pepsi, and Sony. Wexler’s editorial work includes featured conceptual photo illustrations for TIME Magazine. Fine art commissions include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He also created iconic photographic logos for The Star Wars Trilogy and Batman Forever films.
Nifty Gateway is a digital art online auction platform for non-fungible token (NFT) art founded by Duncan and Griffin Cock Foster and has since been acquired by the Winklevoss twins. Nifty Gateway teams up with top artists and brands to create exclusive collections of limited edition and high quality NFTs. In March 2021, Nifty Gateway began a partnership with the auction house Sotheby’s.