2 years ago, when the idea was born to set up a website dedicated to curating one psychedelic video every day, we were still skeptical about how long one could continue, and afraid that after a month or two we’d run out of psychedelic videos to post.
Today, in the second year anniversary of daily psychedelic video posts, with more than 700 psychedelic videos on the site, it seems clear that there are many more psychedelic videos out there than any of us would have dared to imagine. Psychedelic videos are not a thing of the past. In fact it is clear that more psychedelic videos are being produced these days than ever before by professional workers and independent artists alike, aided by ever improving computer technology and by the increased ability to share these videos on the web. While we have a number of classic 1960s videos on the list, most of the psychedelic videos that appear on it are from the past 10 years.
Now, with the advent of 3D screen technology and augmented reality glasses, one can only imagine what these might mean for the future of psychedelic video and media. From our first impressions of psychedelic media art created for these new types of media it seems that psychedelic media is one of the artistic genres which will benefit the most from the incorporation of a 3rd dimension into media as well as from the immersive media environments which will be created by augmented reality glasses.
After 700 videos we felt that we now have a preliminary basis to create a pioneering list of the greatest psychedelic videos of all time. To our knowledge, this is the first list of its kind. While there have been some lists of greatest psychedelic films, we haven’t been able to find any list for the greatest psychedelic short videos (If you know of one, please tell us). This makes sense because before the arrival of the web and sites like YouTube and Vimeo there was no infrastructure that enabled people to share and access short clips effectively.
So this one is probably the first, and we took the selection process very seriously (indeed, some people thought almost psychotically serious). Each of the editors chose 20 videos from the total 700 videos on the site, which gave us to a list of some 130+ videos pretty cool videos. These 130+ videos were all ranked by each editor from top to bottom. The different lists were then calculated by our data expert in Barcelona (Thanks, Amit!), and this finally gave us to the current list. Enjoy.
- Rules of Acid Song – Jeffrey Lewis (2007)
Jeffrey Lewis’s acid song is probably the funniest song about an acid experience. It is also a pedagogical piece which teaches the 8 immortal rules of tripping. The video is very simply done, with no fancy after effects, but really makes you feel the experience.
49. Gluko & Lennon (2010) – Federico Radeno
Gluko & Lennon is a psychedelic animated series from Buenos Aires based studio Punga and production company L’Orange Gutan. The official description says it is a series about “the psychedelic adventures of two best friends.”
48. Street Musique –Ryan Larkin (1972)
The Canadian animator Ryan Larkin (1943-2007) was one of the pioneers of psychedelic film. His films “Walking” (1969) and street music (1972) are considered classics of the early psychedelic film, and combine instrumental country and bluegrass music together with psychedelic images.
47. Catalog – John Whitney (1961)
John Whitney is widely considered to be one of the founding fathers of computer animation. Throughout the 1950s, the 1960s and the 1970s Whitney has pioneered many computer animation techniques, first with mechanical analogue computers, and then moving to digital computers. In 1961 psychedelics were still research chemicals, and the psychedelic influence on culture has been yet to emerge, yet
Whitney’s 1961 “Catalog” which was created using an “analog compuer/film camera magic machine” that he built from a second world war anti-aircraft gun sight, already foresaw the arrival of psychedelic computer animations. But “Catalog” is more than just an historical piece. It takes the viewer to a pioneering journey through computer landscapes which divulged unforeseeable transcendent realms in the machine.
- Beat Connection in the Water – Panaframe (2011)
“In the water”, from the excellent Panframe vimeo page, is an iridescent tropical daydream for a track by Beat Connection. This video just takes you into the flow of luminescent figures and images which continuously emerge and disperse in an endless continuum of bliss.
- WTF – OK GO (2009)
OK GO’s “WTF” video has the most ingenuous use of the trail effect we ever saw. Directed by Nick Nackashi and OK GO, this video is full of imaginative playfulness which transforms everyday objects from the 99 cents store into psychedelic spectacles using a simple trail effect. The making of video for the clip is also worth a watch.
- Fractalic Castle – Hömpörgő (2010)
The Fractalic Castle is slightly disturbing fractalic video which zooms into the sinister realms of some fractalic structure that seems to go on and on. Turn the volume up.
- Goiin – Birdy Nam Nam (2011)
Never has a more magnificent video been made for such a sad excuse of a song. I can only imagine where this video would be, if it hadn’t been for the lousy soundtrack. And still, it’s a really great video.
- The Golden Age – The Asteroids Galaxy (2009)
The Golden Age is just one of those uncomplicated psychedelic videos that are really fun to watch.
- Fehlerlofia – Marcel Jankovics (1981)
Fehérlófia (1981) aka Son of the White Mare is a full length psychedelic film from Hungary by Marcell Jankovics. Based on Hunnic and Avaric legends, and done as a tribute to the old steppe people, Feherlofia tells the mythic story of a superhuman boy with a cosmic mission.
40. Lylac – Papercutz (2010)
Lylac is just an impeccable cinematic dream of infinite delicacy.
- Lebensader – Angela Steffen (2009)
A little girl finds the whole world inside a leaf in this animation by Angela Steffen
- The Golden Path – United Force & Digital Dinamite (2009)
“The Golden Path” by United Force and Digital Dynamite is a demo video, one of those computer generated clips rendered by a ridiculously concise code and devised by obsessively devout bands of freak-geeks that worship efficient code. It feels like a joyride through glowing colorful virtual worlds.
37. Drifting away with fractals – subBlue (2011)
We have all seen fractal videos, but they are all missing something. Yes the psychedelic experience includes a lot of fractals, but in these videos for some reason the fractals don’t evolve the way they do in the real experience. Fractals change and twist with thought, they have the rhythm of thought and are affected by them. When you stare into the fractalic world you stare into your soul, obviously most of the fractal videos miss that. This video on the other hand is the most beautiful fractalic video we’ve seen. The way the landscape changes on it is the closest we’ve seen to what is experienced during the psychedelic experience.
36. Destino – Walt Disney (2003)
Destino is a unique film project that was initiated in 1945 by two very different artists, the Spanish painter Salvador Dali and the American animator Walt Disney. The film was completed only 58 years later, in 2003 and introduces a unique world in which Dali’s visual style is combined with Disney’s animation style
35. Carolina Melis – Hands (2010)
Carolina Melis is an international illustrator and art designer. Her short movie “Hands” is an enchanting clip for a campaign against child abuse, which shows again how psychedelic aesthetics has trickled into the mainstream.
- The Avalanches – Frontier Psychiatrist (2005)
The Avalanches’ “Frontier Psychiatrist” is an ingenious demonstration on how to make videos that offers a radical visual accompaniment to the even wildest DJ tracks.
- A Box with a Secret – Valery Ugarov (1976)
Although Russia didn’t seem to have much of a psychedelic revolution in the 1960s, some soviet animators were evidently taken away with the psychedelic aesthetics of the Beatles’ Yellow submarine. During the late 1960s and early to mid-1970s a number of soviet films appeared which made use of Yellow Submarine’s psychedelic style. One of these, Valery Ugarov’s 1976’s “A Box with a Secret” is a musical imagination on the theme of the fairy tale of V.Odoevsky “Small town in a snuffbox”. Be sure to watch the part that starts in 4:55, it’s really great.
- I met the walrus – Josh Raskin (2008)
“I am the walrus” is a 2008 academy award nominee which was done using a recording of a short and unusual interview with John Lennon. The interview was done in 1969 by a 14 years old Beatles-obsessed reporter who snuck into Lennon’s hotel room and started asking him question. Lennon answered in his sort of witty, off handed and cosmic way, and 38 years later the 5 minute recording was turned into a highly associative and beautiful video by director Josh Raskin and illustrators James Braithwaite and Alex Kurina. Besides being a 2008 Academy Award nominee for best Animated Short, the film also won the 2009 Emmy for ‘New Approaches’ (making it the first film to win an Emmy on behalf of the internet).
31. Time to Pretend – MGMT (2008)
MGMT’s “Time to pretend” is a fully fledged shamanic trip. It begins with a group of tribal hunter-gatherers dancing around a fire, shooting giraffes, beating on tribal drums and riding shamanic power animals in the psychedelic realm. Andrew VanWyngarden shooting down his inner monsters with glowing fire arrows. Things get even more psychedelic when MGMT group members kneel down to and open their mouths to receive what appears like a highly psychoactive sacrament. Then comes a homage to a scene from Alexander Jodrowski’s avant-garde esoteric film The Holy Mountain (which appears as no. 16 on this list) where the heroes throw stacks of money into an enflamed hole in the center of a round table. Post-modern computer generated psychedelic aesthetics with primitivist, esoteric, and mythical themes.
30. Chiral – Robert Seidel (2010)
A chiral phenomenon or structure is some weird-ass thing that is not identical to its mirror image. You have to admit the concept sounds cool, even though you wouldn’t immediately understand it. Inspired by this scientific idea, German Robert Seidel went and created a very unique motion graphics piece using among other things projection onto a paper sculpture.
29. One – Michal Levi (2007)
“I see music. As I hear it, it appears. Music for me is a gateway to 3D space full of shape shifting colors and textures” writes Michal Levi in her website. “One” is Michal Levi’s second synesthetic video after “Giant Steps”. Levi mixes a track by Jason Lindner with beating urban landscapes and shifting forms in a way which makes you feel that you can really see the music.
28. Artificial – A Short Trip through Bomuldsfabriken Kunsthall – Lasse Gjertsen
This is what life with augmented reality might look like one day. Lasse Gjertsen made a video of the Bomuldsfabriken museum in Arendal Germany but animated the tour, making the works of art as well as the surroundings come alive. The result mixes reality and fantasy in a scandalously psychedelic way
- The Parachute Ending – Birdy Nam Nam (2009)
The DJ crew Birdy Nam Nam has produced some of the most captivating psychedelic music videos in the past couple of years. Their “Parachute Ending” video, directed by Steve Scott, tells the strange tale of the blue alien who saved the planet from the attack of the white cubes, or something like that. Birdy Nam Nam managed to land two videos in the top 50. (Another one in no. 43).
- Fantasy – Vince Collins (1976)
Vince Collins is a gifted animator who was responsible for a series of violently colorful videos from the 1970s and 1980s , among which is a very psychedelic 4th of Juli video for the 200th anniversary of American independence. His “Fantasy” video hosts a disturbing world of flashing colors hallucinations and intimidating transformations.