4/20 is a day widely celebrated by fans of “organics,” but did you know that yesterday was Bicycle Day? In April 19, 1943, chemist Albert Hofmann experimented with what is now known as LSD/acid, and had a trippy bike ride home from his lab, thus Bicycle Day. We’re totally digging these psychedelic artworks by USCO from the ’60s!
For Bicycle Day this year, LIFE.com did a retrospective of its September 9, 1966 magazine issue which featured the LSD-inspired art show by 1960s collective USCO (Us Company), comprised of artists, film makers, engineers, poets and other bohemians.
The group staged interactive, acid-inspired art shows in lofts, galleries and museums around the country, and LIFE reports with some photographs from a shows at New York’s Riverside Museum:
Amid throbbing lights, dizzying designs, swirling smells, swelling sounds, the world of art is “turning on.” It is getting hooked on psychedelic art, the latest, liveliest movement to seethe up from the underground. Its bizarre amalgam of painting, sculpture, photography, electronics and engineering is aimed at inducing the hallucinatory effects and intensified perceptions that LSD, marijuana and other psychedelic (or mind-expanding) drugs produce — but without requiring the spectator to take drugs. [Viewers] … become disoriented from their normal time sense and preoccupations and are lifted into a state of heightened consciousness. In effect, the art may send them on a kind of drugless “trip.”
Psychedelic art is not all new. It derives from earlier innovations of art and electronics, as well as from such old-fashioned devices as the kaleidoscope and slide projector. Some of it even incorporates ancient Oriental philosophies and American Indian lore. But what is new about the art is its complex integration of these techniques and elements as well as its overall purpose. “We try to vaporize the mind,” says a psychedelic artist, “by bombing the senses.”
LIFE notes that, from all the shows tours and stops, it was best received at colleges. At the height of the youth’s orientation with TV and radios then, collegiates had "no difficulty in attuning themselves to the audio-visual bombardment. Older people,” the LIFE article pointed, “who prefer what is called rational sequential experience, i.e., just one movie or a single radio station at a time, tend to freak out.”
I think it’s rad and I might even try to recreate the trippy photography techniques out myself. Good vibes!
Sourced from LIFE.