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Illusionistic Plants


Hallucinogenic plants, plants containing substances that can cause hallucinations in humans and animals, have long been used by spiritual leaders and healers in cultures around the world as “god-revealing” tools.

When taken by some individuals accidentally or intentionally, they can lead to neuronal damage and blood poisoning, marked by psychiatric symptoms as diverse as they are numerous: sudden mood changes, mental confusion, delirium, and, of course, hallucinations as the name itself suggests.

Of all the hallucinogenic plants, mushrooms are probably the most common and readily available one though little was known about their bioactive compounds.

I was fortunate enough to be poisoned by mushrooms during my trip to Yunnan, a province of China known for the teeming diversity of fungi food grown and enjoyed by the local people. What I saw, after I took the mushroom without much thinking, was like a dream.

Though I can’t recount my adventures in the slumberland for unknown reasons, I heard it from the locals that everyone saw different scenes after being poisoned — some found dwarfs right in front of their eyes, others felt like they had been transformed into something else, and still others, unlike me, were able to describe what they got through vividly and couldn’t think more of the fantasies they have experienced.

The message that inspires me to create the work and that I intend to convey in the imagery may sound superfluous and baffling on the surface — the hallucinogen is nothing more than hallucination itself.

Grabbing, sniffing of, and chewing down the mushroom, one has long been well prepared to welcome a state of numbing oblivion when one isn’t even sure he or she really exists.

At this moment, the hallucinations as the realization of the potentiality of the hallucinogenic mushroom resemble seeds’ potentiality as trees, both considered identical in mind.

There are simply too many illusions in reality, even outnumbering real things. So much so that they can only be temporarily removed by human-made hallucinations. We hide the reality we cannot decipher, replacing the truth with spectacles either in our minds and in the physical landscape.

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