Image from Blood and Rockets: Movement I, Saga of Jack Parsons - Movement II, Too the Moon - The Claypool Lennon Delirium
At a time when publics worldwide are called upon to safely stay home, the world’s first psychedelic video museum has been introduced. A pioneering online museum resonating the current renaissance in psychedelic culture and benefiting a period of social distancing.
The Psychedelic Video Museum (PVM) is the culmination of ten years of daily activity on the Daily Psychedelic Video (DPV) website, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary these days. Founded in April 2010 as a group blog dedicated to the exploration of psychedelic aesthetics and creativity, the DPV is run by an international team of psychedelic video aficionados. A new psychedelic video is featured on the site each day by one of the editors.
Today, with around 4,000 videos curated over the last decade, the DPV is the biggest collection of psychedelic videos on the web, and a global hub for psychedelic video fans. The site includes artworks in various styles, reflecting the diverse tastes of its editors and the many perspectives and interpretations characterizing the aesthetic and creative world of psychedelia.
The new online museum features 700 videos carefully selected from the DPV collections and curated by themes, periods, styles and sites.
We at SoL Seed of Life, had a unique opportunity to interview Ido Hartogsohn, Founder and editor in Chief of the DPV and PVM.
Tell us about yourself, how did you become interested in psychedelic culture?
I’ve been a fan of psychedelic music and visuals since I’ve first listened to late 1960s Beatles albums as a kid, long before I knew what a psychedelic is. Over the years I’ve become fascinated with all things having to do with psychedelic culture: collecting psychedelic music albums, hanging psychedelic posters around the house, reading psychedelic literature, and poring over books about psychedelic design and architecture. My blog Psychedelic Cultures was originally conceived as groundwork for a book that will lay out the relationship between different forms of psychedelic culture and style from poetry to music and design. That grandiose project never took off, but I’m fortunate enough that I’ve been able to dedicate my attention to the study of psychedelic visuals over the past decade.
How was the idea behind the psychedelic video museum born?
Ten years ago I’ve started a websie called The Daily Psychedelic Video. It has a very simple concept – one psychedelic video gets posted every day by a team of psychedelic video artists and aficionados. Over the years the blog became the biggest collection of psychedelic videos in existence. It led to yearly best of the year’s list, to special screenings, and theoretical articles, but there was a growing need need to put some order into it. The question was how to translate the knowledge that was amassed over 10 years of daily collecting of thousands of psychedelic videos into something more coherent, where people can get the bigger picture of psychedelic video art. In the new museum the videos are all carefully selected and curated into relevant styles, periods, themes etc., so the idea is to make this artform more accessible and to allow easier access to the most beautiful, inspiring psychedelic videos out there.
Who else is on the team?
Our editors comprise an international team of psychedelic video artists and fans from Israel, Europe, and the States. Over the years we’ve had a diverse group of contributors, some of whom had originally encountered psychedelic video art on the website, became enthusiastic followers, and then became editors on the site themselves.
Tell us about the process of founding the museum.
I needed to sift through some 4000 videos on the Daily Psychedelic Video blog, in order to select the 700 videos that made it in, and then arrange them into coherent exhibitions and themes. Our designer Yael Leokumovich created a clean, minimalist layout which you can see in the museum. The idea was to balance the very colorful psychedelic feel of the images, with a clean design that signals the restraint of a respectable museum. As a virtual museum that is based on online videos, we’ve had two major advantages over other museums. First, we didn’t need to pay for any building to host our works. Secondly, since all our videos are already on the web (in sites like YouTube and Vimeo) we didn’t need to actually purchase the works. We’re just organizing and sharing them in a way that adds the extra value.
What's the museum's mission?
On the most immediate level, we want to be the place where anyone can go when they are looking for stunning, mind-expanding, psychedelic videos to feed their minds on.
On a broader level, the museum is a celebration of psychedelic beauty and creativity, the stunning display of imagination and inspiration created by psychedelic artists from the world over. We want to foster a broader recognition of psychedelic art and visuals, and encourage a deeper exploration of psychedelic aesthetics, their pharmacological roots, cultural resonance, and therapeutic potential.
How do you decide what to include in your exhibitions?
I wish I could say there is a very elaborate process. At the end it’s based on a decade of watching these videos, screening them to others, and developing a taste and appreciation as to what works, and which type of videos have special merit and value.
Is there an exhibition that you are particularly proud of?
I’m particularly fond of those exhibitions that go well beyond the widely recognized forms of psychedelic art or divulge other lesser known aspects of the psychedelic style. For instance, the Soviet Psychedelia collection which features spectacular videos that demonstrate that psychedelic style flourished not only in the west but even within the Soviet Union! Our Oldie Exhibition follows the earlier roots of psychedelic style. It is ordered chronologically, starting with a video from 1905 (!) by American dancer Loie Fuller who was making quite psychedelic videos of her performances as early as the late 19th century.
What challenges is a museum of this kind facing?
I think the biggest challenge is getting the message about the museum out there. The museum is grassroots, volunteer based, and we don’t have any of the institutional support or professional publicity other museum are getting, so the challenge is getting the message about the museum to all the people (and there are many!) who’d be interested in knowing about this.
What does the future hold for the psychedelic museum?
The Daily Psychedelic Video website is keeping active so we will have yearly new video updates, and also plan to add more exhibitions to the collection with time. We plan to hold more screenings of videos from the museum and want to be the launch pad of more theoretical explorations that will lead to a wider recognition of the field of psychedelic video art and aesthetics.