LOOKING FOR MUSHROOMS
LOOKING FOR MUSHROOMS is a visionary travelogue documenting a psychedelic “trip” through rural Mexico and urban America. The film combines street views of San Francisco that Conner and Bob Branaman shot in the late 1950s with scenes of rural Mexico that Conner shot during a series of “mushroom-hunting” excursions between 1961 and 1962, while he and Jean Conner were living in Mexico City. On at least one of these trips, the Conners were joined by Timothy Leary, the ex-Harvard professor and a leading proponent of psychedelic drugs. Whereas an earlier versions of the film was silent and played on a loop, in 1967 Conner added a psychedelic rock ’n’ roll soundtrack, The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows” off their 1966 album Revolver. The lyrics to the song were famously inspired by Leary, Ralph Metzner and Richard Alpert’s 1964 book The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead, which advised those under the influence of psychedelics to “turn off your mind, relax, float downstream.” Arguably among his most hypnotic and visually arresting films, Conner later noted that LOOKING FOR MUSHROOMS (along with COSMIC RAY) was often rented by advertising agencies who were presumably interested in his use of rapid-fire editing and strobe to generate psychedelic effects and generate subliminal messages.