2012 was a very good year for psychedelic video, which is not surprising. The revolution in the means of video production and dissemination which occurred in recent years through the introduction of evermore powerful computers and the appearance of YouTube have led us to a point where more and more psychedelic videos are produced and disseminated each year. When you combine this with the ongoing assimilation of psychedelic aesthetics into mainstream media you get a year which was full of delicious psychedelic treats. Below are some of the videos we liked best in 2012 followed by personal selections made by the contributors of the DPV.
Psychedelic Music Clips
In 2012 psychedelic aesthetics kept penetrating into mainstream music videos and more specifically into hip hop. The most prominent example was of course Psy’s gargantuan hit “Gangnam Style” which featured highly psychedelic glowing colors and style (and hardly needs being presented to anybody on the planet after becoming the first video on YouTube to pass the 1 billion views count).
The psychedelic style was even more explicit in Azyla Banks’s music video for the track Atlantis in which the singer explores a trippy underwater world, riding dolphins and hugging seahorses.
Baltimore rapper Rye Rye released a hyper-psychedelic version to the Vengaboys’ “Boom, Boom, Boom” with electronic mushrooms and flying carpets.
Another spectacularly psychedelic hip hop video was created by Ori Toor, an animation artist whose work was featured earlier this year on the DPV’s list of best psychedelic videos of all time.
In this video, created for the Seattle experimental hip hop group Kingdom Crumbs, Toor further explores the unique animation style he presented in his earlier video “Lion in a Coma”.
Hip hop wasn’t the only place where things were happening, psychedelically speaking.
Bjork who seems always willing to incorporate psychedelic elements into her enchanting clips released a music clip to the track “Mutual Core”, Directed by Andrew Thomas Huang, an extremely talented psychedelic video artist which we will encounter again on the “Psychedelic Video Art” segment of this list.
Another psychedelic music video we liked a lot was this dreamy and hallucinated clip to the song “Even Though” by Giraffage. Created by Brendan Canty, the video takes the viewer on a trip through the Italian countryside. This is probably how Toscana looks after taking 500 micrograms…
2012 also produced some cool psychedelic television. Perhaps the most spectacular psychedelic TV show of the year was Noel Fieldings’ hilariously psychedelic comedy show which ran on the British E4 channel. Described on the Channel 4 website as “a psychedelic character based comedy show”, the series produced some of the most amusing psychedelic comedy that we’ve seen. Below you can watch the second episode of the first season. The rest of them are also available on YouTube.
Another 2012 television gem that you wouldn’t want to miss is the Mad Men scene in which account man Roger Sterling goes on an acid trip. This was a first acid scene in a series which is considered by many to be the most impressive portrait of the sixties ever produced on film, and which now in its fifth season has finally reached 1966/1967, the height of the 1960s psychedelic era. Mad Men creator Matthew Wiener gives the acid experience a beautiful and nuanced cinematic interpretation.
There were a bunch of very psychedelic films released in 2012. Among them Ang Lee’s deeply religious “The life of Pi” and the Disney’s deliciously colorful blockbuster “Wreck it Ralph” and the French “Holy Motors”. Meanwhile, on the DPV we were particularly impressed by two psychedelic trailers for two non-existing films.
One of these was an animation video done in the style Huichol art for an Huichol animation film which will be based on Huichol folk stories. The result was a unique and inspiring mixture of the new and the old.
The second trailer we really liked was “Jihad of Muddaib”, a fabricated trailer for a film which was never even in the making. Based on Frank Hebrert’s Dune mythology the video mixes an electronic psy track by Silver Strain with sci-fi imagery, desert mysticism, action scenes and even some 9/11 references.
Independent studio psychedelia
Some of the most psychedelic videos of 2012 were coming from independent studios which devoted their after-work hours to bombarding us with breathtaking visuals.
One of these was “I, pet goat II”, a dark apocalyptic short film created by the Canadian Independent Studio Heliofant, which is “focused on creating experimental and challenging content”. Featuring the Bush and Obama dancing around as marionettes, and Filled with references to the Illuminati, free masons and of course the 9/11, the film evoked myriad complex interpretations which sought to decipher its symbolism.
On the lighter side of things, the Argentinian art direction and motion graphics design group 2viente produced “Psychic Land” a spectacular and cheerful video that truly deserves to be called a psychedelic treat.
Psychedelic video art
Andrew Thomas Huang who also created the Bjork music clip featured above, produced a number of dazzling psychedelic videos of the past couple of years, among them Avi Buffalo’s spectacular “What’s it in for” video. However it was the Solipsist video which impressed us the most. The video which contains some of the most gripping psychedelic images we’ve seen in a long time, exhibits Huang’s unique psychedelic style to a full extent.
Amateur Mash-Up Psychedelia
Fitting to the age of web 2.0 and user created content, some of the best stuff out there in 2012 was created by web amateurs who created psychedelic video by mixing and mashing up pre-existing images and sounds into new and exciting combinations.
The psychedelic qualities which can be seen in Disney movies such as Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Fantasia or Alice in Wonderland was already discussed here on the DPV, however the cheerful way in which this video connects these Disney sequences with the track “Contact High” by Architecture in Helsinki takes them to a whole new psychedelic level.
Another mash-up video which we found highly enjoyable is this one which mixes Daft Punk, X Jay and Silent Bob.
DPV Contributors selections
DPV contributors were asked to choose their two favorite 2012 videos from the ones they featured during the past year. Here are their selections:
Phadroid at Black Rock City & Fatty Fatty Boom Boom:
The two videos I chose from the videos I featured on the DPV in 2012 are of Phadroid (Android Jones and his wife Phaedrana Jones) and Die Antwoord (Ninja and Yolanda). The reason I chose these videos from all the mind blowing colorful videos is that for me they represent a lot of the things I look for when I search for interesting videos to feature on the site. For me it’s not only about colors, spirals and high-tech visualization (though I do love all of that) but it’s about finding new cutting edge contemporary visionary artists. The DPV creates an archive for contemporary psychedelic art and as such it serves as a platform where the psy community worldwide can find out about psy-artists that work today. Android and Phaedrana’s shows can at last be seen by people that just cannot make it to the burning-man or to their other shows. Together they form a symbiosis of dance and visual effects that take the viewer on an exciting journey.
If Phaedrana stems from the hippie-trippy side of the psy world, Die Antwoord is a grass-root hood-psy group. Ninja and Yolanda create their unique ZEF world that includes music, fashion, dance and video. Their pop style might be misleading as they have quite a subversive message that they convey about the pop world we live in (check out their interview on YouTube to understand more of what I’m talking about). Some people challenged Die Antwoord’s authenticity as a band. I say it doesn’t matter if they even exist as a band. Die Antwoord are performance artists more than anything else. They submit themselves totally and wholeheartedly towards the ZEF salvation!
Orphic Oxtra – Skeletons Having Sex on a Tin Roof
2012 is the year that brought us the epic “Skeletons Having Sex on a Tin Roof” by the Icelandic group Orphic Oxtra. When I first posted the video it was lots of silly fun, but now at the end of the year another thing became clear: with its meme-friendly ever dancing, ever smiling plastic tiara princess (and let’s not forget its slightly curious donkey and much more curious white cat) “Skeletons Having Sex on a Tin Roof” moved a step beyond your everyday “exploding clouds of million colors”-clip and showed us what a psychedelic video in the meme-bubble bursting YouTube galaxy of 2012 had to look like.
YouTube user starwarsnerd94 suggested: “This should be a mandatory introduction video to the internet. It would let everyone know what they’re getting into.” And while you still might not be certain what you just witnessed, don’t forget to enjoy that beautiful music.
New Tokyo Ondo
Misaki Uwabo’s animation New Tokyo Ondo needs more exposure. Its style is both refined and bold, the imagery at the same time well-informed and fresh. I especially enjoyed its skillful merging of functions of cultural signs with psychedelic anti-tropes (like dissolution of boundaries or stream of consciousness non-progression) without dismissing one for the other. This non-exclusive attitude is very characteristic for the development of psychedelic aesthetics in 2012.
According to little background information I was able to gather (this side of the language barrier), New Tokyo Ondo is a “nonsense animation conceived and made from the idiom ‘it reaches’.” The way a whole swirling world is set free from the worn off detail of
an idiom expresses a lot of what could be called “psychedelic spirit”.
As a Vj, I consider this excerpt as an good example of what telling a story should be during a show. Here is a great variation of psychedelic vjaying around “borderless” space!
In their visions, ayahuasca shamans say they see the essences that animate living beings, the first property of which is to emit melodies. These essences are considered powerful beings, and ayahuasqueros learn their melodies by singing along. Singing like powerful beings, they learn to see like them, and this gives them knowledge. The melodies that shamans bring back from their visions are called “icaros”; they help navigate the space of ayahuasca consciousness, and can also serve as lifelines when overwhelmed by visions. A film by Stephan Crasneanscki.
Jack Fried – Sick Leave
Jake Fried put out two amazing animations in 2012 and I felt like I could have chosen either one of them (Waiting Room being the other). With Sick Leave he added color to his intense stream of consciousness style. This audiovisual outpouring is certainly not your everyday mental chatter, but fluctuates between mundane situations and archetypal visionary experiences. The visual content might be taken from myths and stories read from books, but I believe an artist can just as well base them on direct experience. Animation can act as shamanic language – there is no need to point out or name anything.
X by Max Hattler
Max Hattler has become a favorite here at DPV. X has him as director and animator with five other animators, including Tony Comley of Verse fame.
I would actually suggest watching Verse along with X and comparing the execution. The aesthetic of X is minimal wireframe, computer-generated to the extreme, but if you look at the choreography; it is practically indistinguishable from human thought particles zipping inside the mind. While being completely different from the raw technique of Jake Fried, the production does not feel at all artificial or automatic.
To me, this video materializes the enfolded dimensions which are accessed with the assistance of tryptamine hallucinogens. As if falling forward through a tunnel which turns back on itself, this looping animation is a cogent representation of altered state perception. The imagery is somewhere between ancient Mayan and Tibetan iconography, with an added biological feel; almost like an organic mandala. I look forward to seeing more from this motion-graphics artist.
Daedelus “Righteous Fists of Harmony”
This video presents elements of astral travel and lucid dreaming. The imagery which starts around the 1 minute mark is beautifully psychedelic and relays a sense of cosmic union and wonder. This is the kind of bubbling life of the universe that springs up all around us when our consciousness expands. The swirling and soaring orchestral music perfectly complements the transcendent imagery.