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Hole In The Head

March 22, 2011

©2011 Peter Diamond

This month I had the chance to do quite a lot of illustrations for Art Director Tom Linecker at DATUM magazine, the centerpiece being their feature article ‘Loch Im Kopf’ or ‘Hole In The Head’, about people in the 60s and 70s drilling holes in their own skulls – self-trepanation – in pursuit of expanded consciousness.

I wanted to communicate the goriness of drilling a hole in one’s own head without making the whole image about that, without trying to be overtly shocking. I wanted to leave room to communicate the ridiculousness of it and the harmless, even benevolent tone in which it’s portrayed by self-trepanation enthusiasts.

After some thinking I decided that the unicorn is an ideal symbol, able to stand simultaneously for fantasy, hallucination, innocence and naiveté, psychedelia, and – frankly – a drill. The character is a hippy, without putting too fine a point on it.

Removing a piece of skull – or trepanation – is considered one of our oldest kinds of surgery, with some very ancient skulls showing signs of having been trepanned. Even today it’s used to save patients in cases of sever skull damage, but it’s use for ‘expanding consciousness’ is something different altogether. For the spot illustration I honed in on a particular aspect of my own reaction to the article, which was that it struck me as a very blunt and ham-fisted approach to achieving enlightenment. Who needs meditation or soul searching when you can just drill a Third Eye into your forehead?

©2011 Peter Diamond

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