Breathing life into souls worldwide through mind-bending digital depictions of his otherworldly inner vision, artist Android Jones is habitually bringing to life transformative and divinely woven artistic experimentations that leave viewers enamored in contemplation. The modern-day mystic endowed with enigmatic characteristics displays the heart within his art through expressing soulfully rich inner facets stitched with ancient fabrics of his perception on digital canvas.
Android’s masterpieces send extrasensory energy pulsating through viewers mortal containers that evoke awe while he candidly sheds egoic walls and creates dynamic artistic synergy both negative and positive in nature. Transmuting the compelling forces of his transcendental imagination on layered, kaleidoscopic works that wrestle with the rationale of mortality, I caught up with the celestial being to discuss the correlation between art and human consciousness, his current endeavors, connecting with the primordial, tattoos and more.
What significant life experiences have led you to transmute your inner being into your artistry?
As far as specific moment and experiences, I started off drawing as a child. I was always really magnetized toward it. It is interesting because the anniversary of the experience I am thinking of was yesterday, December 7th. Gosh, I’m so old now. 28 years ago, I was an eleven-year-old boy and I had a massive brain surgery. It was an out of nowhere, unexpected, and traumatic type of event. The healing process for that was one of those things where one day you are an eleven-year-old boy and the next you are lying there and they are using bone saws to cut into your head.
Entirely shellshocked, I assume?
Yeah. It was like a new person was born. And the person that came out was pretty shocked and traumatized about the world and what felt safe and didn’t. My face was really disfigured afterward for a while. They peeled my face off and went into my cortex. I was immediately able to see a totally different side of people and humanity.
I hate to look at it from this perspective, but, I am assuming that walking down the street was a lot more impactful which lead to a shifting of your inner structure and perception of others?
Yes, for sure. I had this huge scar that ran across my entire forehead from left to right and down the right side of my head and during the recovery process, if I had to go out in public, I would wear a hoodie all the time. It’s funny, I was just reliving the story the other day. I actually had an eleven-year-old girl come to visit me yesterday. A friend of the family had heard an interview where I talked about my experience and this girl had gone through a similar operation just earlier this year. She came out to just talk about it. We realized as she was here that she was visiting the day before the anniversary of when this happened to me. I felt like I was reliving the story all over again. I remember building up the courage to walk in the mall. You know, the mall is a pretty big deal when you are eleven. I was really adamant about not wearing the hood that day and just face it. As I was relaying the story, I realized that had been a huge mistake. People are very bad about hiding their initial reactions and I saw the superficial and how much visuals do matter. Once you don’t blend in with everyone else’s version of normal, it becomes really glaringly obvious how judgmental people can be. It was a dark side of people that I saw, and that pushed me farther into my introverted nature and reclusiveness. There was a part of me that stopped trusting the outside world and stopped wanting to engage with and be around people, so I retreated to the world of my sketchbook. My sketchbook was totally safe and I had total control of the domain of my imagination. I realized I had no control over the world. This world can take you at absolutely any second and it can be absolutely meaningless. There was nothing we could have done to prevent this and/or know that this was going to happen. If they hadn’t caught it within twelve hours, a blood clot could have busted and I could have died instantly. It was really a pretty crazy wake up call.
Wow. As you express yourself, I am here musing upon the cyclic nature of this experience. It is more than likely apparent what this precious little girl is encountering and what she is going through internally could potentially be showcased through her disposition. Especially at her young age with what the media presents these days; superficial is superficial. I can only imagine how powerful that was for you to recollect on your experience through this little girl.
It was interesting. I even started tearing up as I was saying this. I kind of thought that I have done a lot of work around it and a lot of healing, but I was actually surprised as to how much sadness there still is inside. I didn’t really do a lot of therapy around it. My parents were really amazing and supportive; everyone was. But, you know, back in 1987, that wasn’t really around. I have always felt a little different, but those differences were kind of subjective and this was a clue from the universe stating that I was objectively different than everyone else around me now. I really didn’t feel like being around people or engaging with people, but, making art was the one thing I used to distract me. It took my mind off of it. Art became the best way for me to communicate with people. I was much more comfortable putting my feelings and emotions into a drawing and using that as a form of communication than seeing someone face to face, having a conversation, or putting my physical body out there for a while.
So, do you perceive that art correlates with human consciousness?
Well, for me, I think that art is my favorite tool for sheer exploration of my own human consciousness. I’m the kind of guy that likes working in really long, concentrated chunks of time. I think most artists first have to get over their inner critic, block out the insecurities and get through by letting the day wash over them. I mean, so many crazy things in life are happening. The owner of the warehouse fire that just broke out in Oakland, Derick, is a good friend of mine and has been for almost ten years. I turned on NBC and saw Matt Lauer eviscerate him in front of millions of people, everyone was watching my friend break down. So, there is a lot happening right now. The more that happens, the more time that I need to quiet everything and get into that stillness. It’s challenging, but in terms of the exploration of consciousness, art is my active meditation. If you can find that stillness and let the voices subside, you get through the waking mind and that is where I begin to switch gears. Sometimes I will do pieces that are esoteric or inter-dimensional. Right now, I am working on a political piece that I have been working on for a few weeks. I am attracted by the Standing Rock movement that is happening right now.
Yes. Absolutely. And it is time for artists of all mediums, such as you, to step in and translate their perceptions into artistry, because ultimately, the art is going to serve to educate and expand members of societies perception toward what is happening. On that note, are there any artists whose body of work stands out to you amongst the masses?
This artist by the name of Chris Cooksey who does these incredible assemblages of sculptural work. Any of the guys from the Furtherrr Collective. Mars-1 or Oliver Vernon. You know, those guys are friends and they blow me away. James Jean is just a prolific legend. I think that is the theme of the art that gets me; where their passion becomes so palatable, you see the love and the passion. You can see the piece and see part of them behind it. You can almost put yourself in the situation of what it must have been like in the midst of making the piece. For instance, with James Jean, what would it be to see these lines coming out from his fingertips to his pencil to bring to life the images that he creates. Those are the kind of things that move me a lot.
Yes. Feeling the emission of an artist’s internal energy is powerful.
I know that you get asked this quite often; do pieces of your work reference to psychedelics and/or experiences you have encountered through psychedelics?
Definitely. I don’t really shy away from admitting that. Part of it is coming back to that initial surgery, you know, coming back to my first real near-death experience. I kind of found that throughout my life, I have always been attracted to that near-death feeling. I had definitely experimented with different psychedelics in college at Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida. Our sister college, New College, was where the group “MAPS”, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, started and there was a lot of co-mingling with access to really high-grade chemistry. I moved to San Francisco around 2005 and got into a habit of locking the door, turning my cell phone off, and going really deep and seeing what would result from that. And I found that the zone that I can enter into with psychedelics became a lot more sacred than the zone I enter when I am sober. It boosted the aspect of sacredness to it, and I felt that for me, it allowed me to connect to a higher aspect of myself. Even though you are having these hallucinations, it enabled the ability to connect me to a deeper aspect of truth.
The process that I have employed to create my art doesn’t come from my visual imagination because my visual imagination is not very strong. I don’t know if it’s from the brain surgery, but I am very active and in tune with my inner vision but not my visual imagination. My process is more around starting in a subjective way of thinking really bold, emotional strokes, throwing down random ink blots and splotches. And back to exploring consciousness, after I throw down a series of colors, shapes, and forms, then I let my imagination interrupt those forms. It’s a psychological process called pareidolia. It’s like when you look at clouds or snow and are able to see patterns and dragons; that’s more of what I employ. And that combines with an academic background of anatomy and form, and I am able to look at something abstract and see something in it. And whatever my subconscious sees, then I start refining it in that direction. That’s how I really explore what is going on in myself; whatever I am seeing will give me insight into what I am not able to access directly through my own mind.
I found that what psychedelics did for me with that aspect of pareidolia and the ability see something and see, for instance, a random collection of cues or something and being able to interject something more objective onto that, that’s where psychedelics really took that aspect of the mind and put it on steroids. I felt like it helped enhance being able to slowly focus and concentrate on the moment because the moment was so visceral and so alive. It turned the volume down on everything else. That experience became such an all-encompassing and powerful journey. Every piece that turned into this epic narrative that was taking place, it was a conversation between my myself and my subconscious and higher consciousness.
For me, I think that the moments in my life that have been the most transcendent and mystical have all happened through this feedback. There’s an area where once all of these pieces are in place, a larger narrative starts taking place and there are moments as the piece starts to come together where I feel like I am able to communicate with something that is beyond my subconscious and self, and there’s always this connection and interaction with the other that feels transcendent and powerful.
And beyond the synergistic energy that collects you to individuals that are intrigued by your work as well, because that adds to the collective energy of it.
Yes, I think it does. I definitely think that the art community that I have surrounded myself with over the past twenty years has been really powerful. For a while, I felt like I was a closet psychedelic artist. It wasn’t something that was really respected by galleries. I did a lot of work in the entertainment industry to pay off art school. I even had my own company that was making art for films and video games, but to the outer world, I was the guy who was doing drugs over the weekend. Nobody really understood. It added to the outcast archetype that I had developed.
I grew up in Boulder and in 2006, I got invited to this visionary art show called Synergenesis that was happening in the city. I was friends with this man named Robert Venosa and he and his wife invited me out to a show that they were doing which was a full concentration of psychedelic and visionary artwork. The culture around it abounded with all of these amazing people with tattoos and dreadlocks. As soon as I walked in the door, I realized that there was a community of people where getting high and making art was celebrated and not something that people were ashamed of. They had built their entire lives around it. And once I saw that there was a community that actually embraced the things that I felt like I could only indulge in within my privacy and seclusion, that was when I was sold on it. That was one of those moments where I felt like I found my tribe. I found this family that I have been looking for my whole life. And then after that, it was pedal to the medal with psychedelia, events, festivals, and Burning Man. All of those things started to come together and bring to life a new identity around that.
When you speak of isolation, you speak of it very fondly. Yes, it is a major aspect of any artistic medium, but I’m curious. Do you participate in any live artwork and if so, do your emotions shift in that state?
So, in mid-2006, I had done an ayahuasca ceremony in Northern California and that was another one of those near death experiences, one of the most powerful psychedelic journeys I had ever done before. It left me so rattled that I realized that I had to quit my job. I kind of abandoned the life that I had before and I was supporting myself by doing album covers, flyers, and whatever I could do that was creative. I met this dude named Lorin who went by Bassnectar, and he invited me to go on tour with him and I asked him if I could do the visuals. I was still a digital artist, but I asked if I could maybe do art and project on the projector. He said that I could do whatever I wanted as long as I went along on tour. I went on the tour and a friend gave me this big vile and the intersection of that opportunity just totally transformed my life. Instead of being an artist that totally made his art in the shadows and was reclusive in the studio all the time, I was on a stage. I was on stage and there were thousands of people in the audience. The first couple of times were terrifying being on stage and working on a piece of art with it being projected behind me for hours. I would stand next to Lorin on stage and people were a bit confused at first, but once people built the connection and acknowledged what I was doing, it gave me the encouragement and inspiration to keep going. You know, two months of doing psychedelics every other night on stage in front of thousands of people definitely got me over those fears. It made a really fundamental shift, you know? Before I was making this art alone and now, the art that I was making was part of the celebration. I was able to channel into the energy, excitement, and love of all of the people that were around. The celebration of the human spirit and life, in general, came into the work I was doing through this experience. I have never looked back from that point, and that platform really gave birth to the work that I do now.
Wow. What a compelling yet humbling experience. What projects are you currently working on that your community can look forward to?
I am doing two big projects right now. One is called Samskara which is a Sanskrit word for moments in life that leave a psychological mark like a birth, death, surgery, or something traumatic. It’s not objective; it’s not either good or bad, it simply leaves a mark. Over a year ago, I was invited out to Thailand by this mysterious character to talk about a project involving domes, which was really the only information that I had ahead of time. So I went out to Thailand and met this character who was in his late forties who was kind of larger than life; picture a Marlon Brando in a saffron robe with a big scar on his eye [laughs]. This crazy Russian Hindu had this ashram out in rural Chiang Mai that was basically a digital ashram full of multimedia artists, animators, and electronic engineers and he wanted to take my art and use it to bring the story of the Hindu Vedas out into the public. We have been working for over a year and we created a 24 minute, 360 immersive dome animation that plays in planetariums and domes because he also owns a business where he creates and rents and sells domes around the world.
I saw that dome. I was under the impression that it was solely a projection that was momentary, not a 24-minute projection; that is incredible.
Yeah. It’s a 24 minute moving projection piece that takes you all through the different levels of consciousness described in the Hindu Vedas. It’s a very powerful piece of media because it’s made by 25 Russian and Hare Krishna devotees that are meditating all day long and using all their skills to take the art that I make and bring it into 3D. I showed a touring show with the dome. It’s been shown at different festivals and I think Bassnectar may have it at one of his events. We’ve done some shows in China, some international shows, a lot of planetarium shows. And we’re doing the version of it that people can see in VR like on the DayDream and on the VIVE. I work on that for part of my time and the other project that I’m doing right now is connected to how about eight months ago, I started getting into virtual reality development. Basically, the same spirits and energies that I have been working with and connected with on my astral level of psychedelic creative exploration had given me a very directed mission to make art in VR as soon as possible. And within a few days in San Francisco, I found an opportunity to do that and it kind of shattered all previous records of mind-blowing creative digital narratives that I had ever touched on before. I tried out this one program that these guys were making as a creative VR platform and in this experience, I had just a thousand different ideas of what we could do with VR and how it could unlock new areas of the brain and change the chemistry of the brain and create new neural pathways. I had so many ideas I was trying to give these guys to put into their project that I realized that I just described five new projects. I realized that the only person that is actually capable and/or willing to take a risk to execute the ideas that I wanted to would be me. So I developed a small team of people and chose some of my favorite engineers and artists that I have known for ten years and we have been developing this project called Microdose VR. You can try your best to recreate reality in VR and it could be interesting, but I really saw the opportunity of VR as another realm and platform in which you can combine different experiences together that you would never be able to do in the real world. And for Microdose, the vision was to recreate an experience that is the highest level of a creative experience possible but also makes an experience that was suitable and open to everyone, regardless of what skill level or level of creativity that they had. I believe that every human being is fundamentally a creative human being whether they’re artists, dancers, or musicians. But if you haven’t built your life around being an artist, can be hard to engage in one particular medium. For instance, if you have never played violin before, you’re not really likely to pick up the violin because you know it is going to take 10,000 hours to get any kind of positive feedback amongst already being intimidated because there are already so many amazing violinists. VR is an equal playing field when you start off with it, so the goal is making an experience that is open to everyone. We have designed this journey where right when you get into the VR world, you are in this 360 environment that is inspired by my artwork and when you pull the triggers on the controllers, it starts shooting out this array of geometrical, psychedelic fireworks.
You know, this can potentially serve to awaken individuals to their buried beneath abilities and creative potential.
Definitely. I realized that as amazing as it is to be a musician, artist, dancer, etc., we are still in this box. As amazing as a box that it is, it is a box that limits us. VR was kind of a world without limits, and it’ll take several years, but I basically wanted to create a new type of art form that was able to combine the three types of intelligence (analytical, creative, practical) together. For instance, as you’re dancing, it turns into this living visual sculpture around you. And we have it now where every time you use it, a different particle is connected with different sounds and pieces from different parts of music. Right now, we have an experience that as you are moving and dancing through the world, every particle that you use activates a different stem of a song, so you are actually able to remix music in 360 and see the music; sculpt the piece of music or dance the sculpture into existence. That is where things are going. I do want to make something where you strap on his headset and it has sensors that sense your heart rate and your brain states and waves which leads to the piece generating a world around you based off of your biofeedback. What I like about that is that there is a part of your body that cannot lie and be able to use that data to actually create a world that you can interact with. Eventually, technology is going to allow us to shape and sculpt the brain states that we desire; it’s fascinating.