VISION AND CRITICISM
- Studies on Culture, Drugs and Consciousness -
The longing for feelings of internal flowing, for the recognition
of a deeper sense, and last but not least, the release of consciousness
from repressive restrictions, is as old as humanity. With this background,
the project :Moksha-Research: was founded in 2000.
"Moksha is a symbolic reference to the novel Island,
by Aldous Huxley. The novel describes an ideal society based on
community values, existing in harmony with the natural environment.
An essential aspect of the societys cultural life involves
the ritual use of a psychoactive substance called Moksha, which
is used with consideration of the risks for the development of consciousness.
Moksha stands thereby in contrast to Soma, the drug of Huxleys
Brave New World, which produces positive feelings, but
at the same is a means of diversion and manipulation.
The main aim of :Moksha-Research: is the critical discussion of
the relationship between culture, consciousness and psychoactive
substances. The work forms a focal point of corresponding studies.
The vision is the flowing fusion of dream and reality in a concrete
THE PSYCHONAUTICAL MAP - SEARCHING FOR INNER UTOPIA
Like an astronaut who travels through the vastness of outer space,
a psychonaut travels to the depths of his or her own psyche. The
imaginary psychonautical map comprises the poles of an almost incomprehensible
inner realm containing pleasing areas as well as dangerous abysms.
While everyday experiences may be clearly described and often contain
defined structures, marginal zones beyond conventional areas of
consciousness often seem blurred and impenetrable.
In turn, the paths that lead to these marginal zones are anything
but straight and simple. They often resemble a labyrinth, some are
dead-end streets, others seem to lead nowhere, until they finally
reach the desired destination. Some are only discovered by realizing
that they do not lead to a place in the outside world, but deep
into the inner Self. The paths that lead to this inner realm may
be discovered by using various techniques, such as meditation, trancelike
dance, extreme physical experiences, ecstatic sex or adequate amounts
of psychoactive substances like mescaline, psilocybine and LSD.
Certain paths reach their full potential only in a ritual context;
in other cases, no specific technique is necessary experiences
develop from the mental structure of each individual. Recent studies
have shown a comprehensive human need of inebriation, ecstasy and
transcendence to go beyond the limits of everyday life. This need
is often suppressed, particularly in Christian culture. However,
we must not only consider the purpose, but also the high risk factor
for the psyche. Frequently experiencing extreme conditions is not
enriching; on the contrary, it produces deep insecurity, since the
conventional world view is fundamentally challenged. In addition,
as a manifestation of mental problems or illnesses, there are various
levels of consciousness, in which some persons find themselves and
are unable to free themselves from.
The extraordinary experiences in marginal areas of the psychonautical
map often create the need to fully understand and accept these,
in some cases also express and pass on content related to it. Dealing
with this subject in the framework of artistic forms of expression
represents a possibility that is often used. The reproduction of
extraordinary states of consciousness in artistic forms of expression
is not always recognizable as such, they often appear in an abstract
or encoded form and may only be understood by using certain codes.
Many indigenous cultures have a long tradition of reproducing transcendental
states of consciousness. Some Amazon tribes, for example, practice
an art inspired by Ayahuasca, where perceptions in an altered state
of mind and elements of a different reality are reproduced, which
in contrast to reality of everyday life is understood as the actual
true one. In doing so, the act of processing and ordering transcendental
experiences is put in a collective context.
Due to sociocultural factors, an individual approach is widespread
in the Western modern world. Thus, there are many artists who individually
access and deal with marginal areas of the psychonautical map. In
some cases, their work is rejected because it is too independent,
often however, because it is difficult to classify into prevalent
categories. In some cases, the name of the artist himself already
represents an individual style, inasmuch as such a definition is
necessary. Upon closer review, it soon becomes clear that far from
the demands of general art concepts and commercial art standards
there are multiple independent forms of expression.
In recent art history, beginnings of dealing with extraordinary
states of consciousness may be seen in surrealism and in dealing
with dreams from a psychoanalytical point of view. The term Art
Brut, however, refers to the art of certain people who have almost
unhindered access their subconscious mind, such as persons in certain
mental or extreme psychotic conditions. Later, the Viennese actionism
as well as the Industrial Culture suppressed energies and with it
often the abysms of extreme mental situations. The key point of
reference of visionary art is formed by the reproduction of mystical
transcendental experiences which are often glorified in a religious
way. Numerous works of art are created in the context of a cybertribe
culture, altered states of perception and consciousness with modern
The representation of extraordinary states of consciousness achieved
with the use of psychoactive substances appears in stone murals
as early as the Stone Age. Psychedelic art is particularly observed
with reference to developments in the late sixties. The spectrum
of experiences includes increased sensory perception and a direct
access to your subconscious mind, feelings of happiness and union,
as well as deep inner irritations and psychotic illnesses. Withal,
psychedelic substances do not bring anything new into a person,
but they rather open doors to existing inner spaces. The criminalization
of many psychoactive substances resulted in a stigmatization of
corresponding forms. in the course of the representation of psychedelic-trance-culture,
and psychedelically inspired art has seen a revival since the nineties.
No mental experience and of course no transition to an extraordinary
state of consciousness occurs in an unrelated space, as personal
as the process might be. The experience must always have a direct
connection with the surrounding conditions and thus with the socioculturally
defined requirements. This becomes evident in relation with the
prohibition of psychoactive substances or the extrusion of techniques
leading to other states of consciousness. Beyond the momentous experience,
an inner freedom is necessary which ultimately may only unfold in
the context of corresponding social freedom. Extraordinary states
of consciousness are stigmatized, especially in cultures where economic
performance, competition and profit dominate almost all social areas.
An excessive rationality and the striving for permanent self control
close the access to a state of transcendence and a real understanding
of the potential of altered levels of consciousness. Subliminal
mental problems and sociocultural conflicts are closely linked to
The individual motivation for a well directed transition into a
transcendental state of consciousness and thus a psychonautical
journey may vary largely. A connection is often found in a subliminal
level in the search of a concrete inner utopia as a place on the
psychonautical map, which detached from external repressive structures
and inner emotional blockage opens a feeling of flowing. A fundamental
first step on the long way is realizing that it is possible to approach
this utopia through personal practice and social change, as distant
and suppressed as it may seem from the outside. We may reach the
stars, but only, if we really wish for it...