I can’t say that this was a very healthy idea, considering the man suffered mild (although I”m guessing more like moderate) brain damage from this experiment. However, these various portraits drawn whilst experiencing different chemical compounds really goes to show how art can act as a mirror for our minds and our experiences. Everything we are experiencing in the moment shows up in the art we make, whether we recognize it or not. All art is a self-portrait. And Bryan Lewis Saunders is making that fact very plain through this project. He has given us some windows and some hints at what it might be like to experience these altered states, and what exactly they do to our brains, our motor skills, our emotions, and our expressions. The only thing I feel that is missing from this very causal ‘qualitative arts-based experiment/research’ is that he did not do a self-portrait while he was sober. That would have been a great base line to view the others from. Overall, I have absorbed this article as a fantastic anti-drug advertisement.
In the article, I didn’t actually know or recognize a lot of the drugs he took, so I added some info about each one.
And often a comment.
Abilify / Xanax / Ativan
So, here is him on Xanax, a benzodiazepine used to treat anxiety and panic disorder. He’s wearing a My Little Pony t-shirt. Bright colours. Vaguely neutral expression. Cartoon-y drawing but well proportioned etc. Sounds about right. Seems like he was probably pretty calm and vaguely content while he was doing this.
And now here’s Bryan on Abilify- an antipsychotic medicine used to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Hmm. Doesn’t really seem to be helping much does it?
1 sm Glass of “real” Absinth
Absinth is historically described as a distilled, highly alcoholic (45–74% ABV / 90-148 proof) beverage. It is an anise-flavoured spirit derived from botanicals, including the flowers and leaves of Artemisia absinthium (a.k.a. “grand wormwood”), together with green anise, sweet fennel, and other medicinal and culinary herbs. Absinthe has often been portrayed as a dangerously addictive psychoactive drug.
Adderall (amphetamine and dextroamphetamine) is used to treat narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Looks like he had lots of focus to do all those little details…
Ambien (zolpidem) is a sedative and is used for the short-term treatment of insomnia by helping you fall asleep.
And now here is Bryan on Bath Salts. They say they’re realllllly bad for you.
Can you tell??? …..doesn’t seem too fun when you look at that picture, does it? Looks really scary.
15mg Buspar (snorted)
BuSpar (buspirone) is used to treat symptoms of anxiety, such as fear, tension, irritability and dizziness.
To be honest, this overall gestalt of this drawing makes me feel a bit tense and irritable. And slightly anxious.
Butalbital is a barbiturate with an intermediate duration of action. Butalbital is often combined with other medications, such as acetaminophen (paracetamol) or aspirin, and is commonly prescribed for the treatment of pain and headache.
Butane Honey Oil
Hash oil is a resinous matrix of cannabinoids produced by a solvent extraction of cannabis. Hash oil is a concentrated product with a high THC content, which generally varies between 40% and 90%. Related honey oil is a specific type of hash oil extracted with butane.
Seems pretty happy in this picture… But who’s got their hand inside his brain???
Cephalexin treats infections caused by bacteria, including ear infections, skin infections, and urinary tract infections.
Not sure what happened here… why such a dismorphic reaction? Maybe he was sick with an infection and that’s why he took the drug? And the physical illness affected this drawing?
1/2 gram Cocaine
Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug made from the coca plant. Ever seen anyone on this? Well then, no explanation needed, really. Look how big and scary his crazy mouth got. It’s scrazy.
Computer Duster (2 squirts)
2 bottles of Cough Syrup
Dextromethorphan (the active ingredient in cough syrup) produces weird effects in large quantities. It can cause hallucinations but usually it causes vomiting and nausea, sometimes heart/breathing problems.
1 “Bump” of Crystalmeth
Physical effects can include anorexia, hyperactivity, dilated pupils, flushing, restlessness, dry mouth, bruxism, headache, tachycardia, bradycardia, tachypnea, hypertension, hypotension, hyperthermia, diaphoresis, diarrhea, constipation, blurred vision, dizziness, twitching, insomnia, numbness, palpitations, arrhythmias, tremors, dry and/or itchy skin, acne, pallor, and with chronic and/or high doses, convulsions, heart attack, stroke, and death.
Psychological effects can include euphoria, anxiety, increased libido, alertness, concentration, increased energy, increased self-esteem, self-confidence, sociability, irritability, aggressiveness, psychosomatic disorders, psychomotor agitation, dermatillomania, trichotillomania, delusions of grandiosity, hallucinations, excessive feelings of power and invincibility, repetitive and obsessive behaviors, paranoia, and, with chronic use and/or high doses, amphetamine psychosis.
Hydromorphone belongs to the family of medications known as opioid analgesics (narcotic pain relievers).
It is used to treat moderate to severe pain, including pain after surgery.
The words I see there are “Melting on the couch”…And he pretty much seems incapable of even holding a pen. Relieves brain and annihilates the brain?
1 shot of Dilaudid / 3 shots of Morphine
Morphine is a narcotic pain reliever used to treat moderate to severe pain.
His hand is huge! I like his morphine hat, too. And morphine super-hero glasses.
N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT or N,N-DMT) is a naturally occurring psychedelic compound of the tryptamine family. Its presence is widespread throughout the plant kingdom. DMT occurs in trace amounts in mammals, including humans (during birth, death and lucid dreams), where it putatively functions as a trace amine neurotransmitter. When ingested, DMT acts as a psychedelic drug. Depending on the dose and method of administration, its subjective effects can range from short-lived milder psychedelic states to powerful immersive experiences; these are often described as a total loss of connection to conventional reality with the encounter of ineffable spiritual/alien realms. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dimethyltryptamine
It sure took him to another place all right… Judging by the lines above, it seems as if he is hardly there at all. But then the lower half of the drawing is based in strong symetry and seems to be an analytic dissection of his own head. Strange. I’ve heard Terrence McKenna (the former psychedelic drug shaman of North America) say that for him, DMT was the most strange and frightening drug he ever took. And the most beautiful.
Also knows as Ziprasidone, Geodon is used for the treatment of schizophrenia, and acute mania and mixed states associated with bipolar disorder.Ziprasidone is also used off-label for depression, bipolar maintenance, mood disorders, anxiety, aggression, dementia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, autism, and post-traumatic stress disorder, though Pfizer was penalized for promoting such uses in US
This image seems to depict a very uncomfortable state.
Hashish, often known as “hash“, is a cannabis preparation composed of compressed and/or purified preparations of stalked resin glands, called trichomes, collected from the unfertilized buds of the cannabis plant. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hashish
The major active ingredient in marijuana and hashish is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The exact nature of its action is not entirely understood, although it is believed to change to a psychoactive compound in the liver. The effect sought in cannabis use is euphoria, a feeling of wellbeing and elation. This is usually accompanied by a state of altered perception, particularly of distance and time. The euphoric feeling usually peaks within ten to thirty minutes of smoking marijuana, but residual effects may last from two to three hours. Marijuana and hashish can impair balance, coordination, speech and thinking. Even small amounts of marijuana have been found to adversely affect driving performance. http://www.hashish-center.com/hashisheffects.html
First picture I’ve seen in a while where his body seems relatively well proportioned, he uses warm and happy colours that radiate from his head, and he may even be sporting a smile. Seems like it has much less of an effect than some of the other drugs he’s taken.
The potential dangers of inhaling gasoline vapors include limb spasms and even fatal cardiac arrhythmia.
Wow. Look at that big square hole in his head..Or is that a window?
Huffing Lighter Fluid
The inhalation of lighter fluid fumes gives people a feeling of euphoria and it is addictive.
More info on Saunders can be found at his personal website.
: an article about Byran Lewis Saunders art, written by Josh Dixon
“This is all kinds of cool, and everything your mother told you not to do. Bryan Lewis Saunders is an artist from Washington D.C., not just any artist though. Saunders prefers to take a more unconventional approach to his artwork.
Arguably his most interesting project, entitled DRUGS is described as follows:
“After experiencing drastic changes in my environment, I looked for other experiences that might profoundly affect my perception of the self. So I devised another experiment where everyday I took a different drug and drew myself under the influence. Within weeks I became lethargic and suffered mild brain damage. I am still conducting this experiment but over greater lapses of time. I only take drugs that are given to me.”
Below, you can view a collection of portraits Saunders drew while under the influence of various substances ranging from cocaine, to marijuana, to DMT. Each portrait is an astonishing look into the mind of someone tweaked out on drugs, something that your eyes will surely appreciate.”