Kaeti MacNeil September 12 2023

Animating the hallucinogénie


“Our program explores how images on screen can become portals to altered states of consciousness, akin to the enchanting effects of hallucinogens.”

Personally, I haven't yet tried hallucinogens or psychedelics. Since I first began painting, viewers of my artworks have remarked that my work looks psychedelic and trippy. This has always fascinated me because I haven't had those experiences. I’ve wondered about the variety of ways people can experience hallucinogénie.

When my film was invited to join Labocine’s September Issue, I had just read “Talk About the Passion: Scientists on the art that has inspired them. Artists on the science that has inspired them” in Nautilus. Among many great creators featured in the article who seem to be tapping into the Science New Wave, Anil Seth describes his work with the dreamachine. The research behind it – the effects of flickering light on the psyche inducing Alpha waves and mental visualization – make it one magical way to open the mind and experience hallucinogénie. To learn more visit https://dreamachine.world

The research behind the dreamachine speaks to a phenomenon I've experienced since childhood. I first learned to internally hallucinate with my visual imagination when playing outside as a kid. Instead of watching TV or movies, I’d spend those hours outside on a swing set under a tree imagining my own. For some reason, my mind worked differently there, I could see my inner images more easily. I’d go at night with the moonlight and the days with the sun. Growing up, I wondered if it was the movement itself because a car or train ride could induce a similar effect. But now I’m learning this flickering light through the trees was the key to learning to shift consciousness into a visually rich playground.

“Hallucinations are different from dreams. They occur in the waking state, and you have a critical consciousness which can observe them. When you are in a dream, you are totally immersed. You are often part of a dream; you can’t stand outside the dream and see it happening.”A Brief History of Hallucinations and the Supernatural with Oliver Sacks

This month’s issue, hallucinogénie, showcases cinema inspired by internally transformative experiences. Photogénie captures a moment experienced by the senses. Hallucinogénie brings to life the exceptional moments when the imaginal mind constructs its own visions.

Three animated films capture this autonomously created visual magic. It is through animation that the rich color, vibrant movement, and odd narratives that take place in the imagination can be revealed. The semantic roots of animation suggest this medium expresses ‘the action of the soul’. Through these films, the artist’s soul – their psyche inspiring their senses – creates hallucinogénie that reveal their inner worlds.

Land of Whim depicts an intimate world of plasmatic characters, spaces, and objects flowing and morphing in an ever-moving and breathing mindscape. Bozek’s work is vibrant, colorful, with a delightful line quality that makes the trip through her planet a wonder of transformations and celebratory music.

Acid Rain follows a journey with hallucinogenics from inception to completion. The protagonist moves through a wonder of kaleidoscopic colors, dance parties, and harmful characters. Both delight and tragedy greet her on the other side of her perception.

Carasoul: a Portrait in Nth Dimensions combines stop-motion paint and digital animation into an evolving portrait of a figure’s inner world. Temporal, immaterial sensations and perceptions appear as spatially material extensions of the body.

A Brief History of Hallucinations and the Supernatural with Oliver Sacks gives a lucid explanation of hallucinations as an adaptive process. Sacks speaks through specific examples in the history of otherworldly apparitions and their connections to hallucination in psychological and physiological terms.

About the author

Kaeti MacNeil is an American surrealist artist creating paintings and animations. Her film Carasoul: a Portrait in Nth Dimensions (2022) won Best Animated Short at the Artists Forum Festival of the Moving Image in New York City. She earned a BFA with Distinction from OCAD University in Toronto specializing in Drawing & Painting: Digital Painting and Expanded Animation. Her work has been exhibited in Toronto, Seattle, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City.