In March of 1995, artist, poet and musician Bryan Lewis Saunders started a project to paint or draw a new self portrait every day for the rest of his life. In 2000 he was living in an 11 story apartment building where he planned to film a documentary about its well known population of creeps and loonies. One day a paraplegic was showing him a huge encyclopedia of pills and he said that you could find each of these pills somewhere in the building. This inspired him to do a series where he would try a different drug every day and then draw a self portrait under the influence.
It’s interesting to observe not only the differences in drawing styles, but also to have something tangible and external that represents the changes that occur with slight adjustments to one’s brain chemistry.
Too often, discussions about chemicals are oversimplified if you simply categorize them by what’s legal and what’s not. It’s important to be aware that any chemical you put in your body is going to affect you whether it’s thc, caffeine, msg, ritalin, or heroin. I admire Bryan for the experimental and possibly hazardous research he is sharing with the world.
There’s a great interview with Bryan on dinosaurcity where he talks more about the drug project. I also recommend exploring his website where you can see more of the self portrait series and also check out his discography of experimental music and spoken word albums which deal with the same topics. One of his latest LPs “Near Death Experience” was ranked #2 on a Wire Magazine best of list for 2010. Less than 20 vinyl copies left, available directly from Bryan’s website.
10 mg Ambien
Butane Honey Oil
1/2 gram Cocaine
2 bottles of Cough Syrup
1 “Bump” of Crystal Meth