Drugs 1967

Seeing how people in the past imagined their future that is now our present is always entertaining and sometimes informative. I am grateful to the author of the Found0bjects blog for posting this set of illustrations taken from ‘Drugs’ published as a volume of Life magazine’s ‘Life Science Library’ in 1967.

[Click images to view at full size. Source page is here.]

The texts that accompanied these illustrations are, for the most part, not reproduced but, somehow, deciphering the ‘picture essays’ without any written explanation actually adds to my enjoyment of them. Each illustration depicts scientists of the day posing in suits and with serious expressions for the camera against a backdrop collage that (sort of) explains the accompanying story in cartoon form. The overall theme seems to be the latest discoveries in mechanisms of drug action with a view to the future of medicine. It’s striking how fresh the collage artist’s graphic concepts still look when you consider that 1967 was still in the ‘dark ages’ before the days of molecular cloning. At the same time, there’s something oddly unreal about them, with the conservatively dressed men (and they are all men) in front of cut-out coloured paper collages. In fact, when I first saw them, I thought they were some kind of parody or joke (what with those ‘DOG’ and ‘GOD’ codons), but all the men depicted were (and some still are) real scientists, it seems.
They are a good example of seductive visual imagery being used to give us the feeling that we understand science and inculcate optimism that it will make for a better future. In this case, the future of medicine which was apparently to be understood entirely in terms of pharmacological science.


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