“Video Is as Powerful as LSD”: Electronics and Psychedelics as Technologies of Consciousness

📖 Peter Sachs Collopy, in Expanding Mindscapes: A Global History of Psychedelics, edited by Erika Dyck and Chris Elcock (MIT Press, 2023), 333–55

In the middle of the twentieth century, the invention and availability of new psychedelic drugs, and the growing cultural discourse around them, coincided with those of television, videotape, and computing. The technologies of psychedelics and electronics grew up together, and those using or thinking about one often implicated the other. When Sony and other Japanese manufacturers developed new portable videotape recorders in the late 1960s, for example, new communities of artists and tinkerers emerged around them, first in the US and Canada and then in Europe, Asia, North Africa, and Latin America. For the first time, declared these enthusiasts, many people could make their own television, breaking the broadcast oligopoly. In describing the psychological and sociological implications of this new technology, many compared it to psychedelic drugs.

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Subjects: art, consciousness, counterculture, drugs, engineering, human sciences, media, medicine, mind sciences, psychedelics, psychiatry, psychology, science, synthesizers, technology, video, visual culture
Category: writing