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Hosting an Inaugural (Psychedelic) Salon in LA

We set out to create an intellectual house party — a casual, inviting space for people to explore big and important ideas through art, music, food, and good conversation.

For awhile now I have had an idea for a salon series — one that put exploring big ideas at the forefront. We are in the midst of an experience renaissance and there is a tremendous interest from the public in unique and meaningful experiences. And yet while some events can feel really smart, they often don't feel particularly accessible or engaging while other events can be immersive and fun but not particularly edifying. So my hope was to fuse the best of those together and create something that was engaging and fun to attend but also scratched that itch we all have to better understand ourselves and the world around us.

From there came the idea to throw something akin to an intellectual houseparty — an event that would provide guests a casual, inviting space to explore important ideas through art, music, food, and good conversation. 

Last week in Los Angeles, I finally had a chance to pilot this idea with an event exploring the science of psychedelics. I had hoped for 30-50 people to attend this inaugural salon. But I was blown away by the response — roughly 100 people showed up from across science, academia, tech, wellness, arts, and culture. The assembled group was incredibly impressive including talented filmmakers, scientists, choreographers, art curators, psychedelic therapists, musicians, writers, entrepreneurs, activists, and more.

All of us together in one space where we could meet other curious minds while expanding our own.

​We kicked off the evening with an immersive art installation designed to elevate consciousness through light and sound.

​Guests had the opportunity to explore Chromasonic's mind-expanding Satellite One installation, an immersive piece that turns light into sound and sound into light to create an unique, expanded state of awareness and connection — sort of a psychedelic experience through art.

The experience was created by artists Johannes Girardoni, Orpheo McCord, and Joel Shearer and guests had a chance to hear from some of the founding team about their exciting work.

During the cocktail hour guests had a chance to mingle and commune with fellow guests and explore the Satellite One experience in groups of eight. This helped provide some momentum for the start of the evening and provided guests an opportunity to meet other people who were having the same shared experience.

From there we sat down with Robin Carhart-Harris, a leading scientist to learn about the latest research and where this psychedelic renaissance is headed.

Robin is the Ralph Metzner Distinguished Professorship in Neurology and Psychiatry at University of California, San Francisco. Before that he was at Imperial College London where he founded one of the world’s first psychedelic research centers. He is a leader in the field and his work, which has included studies with LSD, psilocybin, MDMA and DMT, is widely cited.

I had the privilege of interviewing him about the current psychedelic renaissance, some of the most compelling research going on right now, the challenges involved with researching psychoactive compounds, and where he sees this renaissance going.

The night culminated with a performance by artist Joe Patitucci, who transformed electricity from plants into a beautiful symphony of music.

​Joe Patitucci is a multimedia artist renowned for pioneering plant music and bio-sonification. His work, which translates plant bio-rhythms into ambient music, has inspired a new genre and opened paths for sound art to amplify ecological consciousness.

​Joe’s installations, performances, and workshops have captivated audiences around the world from TED to SXSW to the Aspen Ideas Festival, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, and more.​In 2021, his company Data Garden released PlantWave, a device that allows anyone with a smartphone and a plant to experience Joe’s innovative work.

Joe shared the inspiration behind his work and how the technology he developed works to translate electricity from plants into ambient music. And he demonstrated the technology live — connecting various plants to a create music via a synthesizer, vocal samples, piano, and bass.


A selection from the musical performance

From my vantage point, the event was a tremendous success and I can't wait until we can bring this newfound community of people who want to learn more about themselves and the world around them together again for the next event.

If you're in LA and are interested in our next event, please email me at amicawber [at] gmail [dot] com