FUTURE FOSSILS #0032: Mark Henson, Visionary Painter (The Past & Future of Provocative Art)

“I think we’re at a real crossroads. I’m an old guy, I may not live to see a whole lot more of the changes that are undoubtedly going to happen, but I would sure like to. I try to be an optimist. I’d like to hope that through education and science and clear thinking and good communication we come to sort of a passive understanding of the stuff we need to do – rather than having any ‘conspiracy’ organizations shoving it down everybody’s throats. We can have creativity and BETTER lives, rather than just more and more and more.”

This week our guest is visionary artist Mark Henson, whose highly detailed and frequently erotic paintings portray the full spectrum of human experience, our greatest dreams and most disturbing nightmares.
Mark’s been a friend and elder to me since we met in 2010 and I was delighted to catch up with him at this year’s Psychedelic Science Conference in Oakland – please excuse the background noise in this recording as you enjoy this festive and far-ranging conversation about art, life, and creativity!


- Viewing and making art as time travel.
- Will artificial intelligence replace artists?
- Can we understand the universe?
- Altered sense of time self in dreams and psychedelic experiences.
- How technology has crept into our memory and dream lives.
- The necessity of Universal Basic Income AND Life Purpose in an automated post-work world.
- “The Work” of ayahuasca users and telepathic post-humans (on social media) of being open to the intensity and burden of collective experience.
- The importance of an intentional media diet.
- How Mark got to collaborate with Jimi Hendrix as a teenager!
- Mark’s thoughts on the history and evolving intersection of Street Art, Fine Art, and Live Music.
- How different musical styles and intoxicants contribute to different media ecosystems.
- How Mark and his stepson almost got one of his paintings into the White House.
- Projected art as graffiti and political action; augmented reality graffiti as the future of dissent, and geospatial metadata as a new cyberpunk Wild West – metagraffiti.
- Defacing ads and reclaiming public space, a polite How To.
- The future of the family.


- The Golden Oecumene Trilogy by John C. Wright
- Blood Music by Greg Bear
- Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research
- The Teafaerie’s Erowid Ibogaine Article
- Ayahuasca Coloring Book artist Alexander Ward
- Michael’s appearance on Comedy Central’s Problematic with Moshe Kasher
- Darwin’s Pharmacy by Richard Doyle


- “My overall project here is to create impressions of what life was like, in these days…”
- “By 2000, we were supposed to be flying around in little personal cars and live in a peaceful world where the big issues had been resolved. That didn’t happen, so I’m not going to hold my breath on a Singularity.”
- “Sometimes I have fairly vivid dreams where, if the dream is strong enough, later on when I’m awake I might confuse that reality with something that happened in my waking moments. Did I dream that, or did that really happen to me ten years ago. What about this little experience? Was that a dream, or…I can’t quite remember. Sometimes that happens to me, and I actually like that, because if I can blur the boundaries between that world and this one, I think it’s more interesting.”
- “Maybe if the Singularity happens, or Artificial Intelligence gets intelligent enough to be a frustrated, nervous wreck over wanting to express itself to the point of absolute fanaticism where it has to create something new in the world…I would love to see that, actually. See what comes out.”
- “Do I want to live in a Borg mind where I know what you’re thinking and you know what I’m thinking? No, I do not, because that’ll clog up my thoughts.”
- “Everybody is radiating self-expression some way or another. It’s one of our basic human desires. How do we not be swamped in all the static? It’s like we’re running 300 radios at one time. It’s hard to listen to one particular song. So somehow we have to filter things out. It’s sort of essential just to keep sane.”
- “The essence of our culture war is an economic war, in a sense…if you have a good psychedelic experience, you realize that the beauty of a sunset is of more importance than a pallet full of $100 bills.”
- “I think if the humans manage to manage ourselves, we’ll be able o accomplish managing nature so that nature can still be nature…and maybe we’ll have a few friendly helpful robots as well.”

FUTURE FOSSILS #0033: Jon Lebkowsky on Pluralist Utopias & The Web's Wild West

FUTURE FOSSILS #0031 - Mitch Altman (Hacking Life For Fun & Profit)