‘Dreamachine’ – Jon Hopkins’ free trip-inducing install

Articles, News // February 2022

“Dreamachine is a once-in-a-lifetime immersive journey into light, sound, colour and imagination–a shared experience that’s unique to you.”

Collective Act // UNBOXED

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The inspiration for 2022’s Dreamachine dates back to 1959, where artist Brion Gysin opened a new world with his invention; he utilised flickering lights to generate vivid illusions, patterns and explosions of colour in the mind of the viewer.

Collective power

Collective Act has brought together Grammy-nominated musician Jon Hopkins, Turner Prize-winning collective Assemble and a host of pioneering technologists and scientists to reimagine Gysin’s concept.

Hopkins has produced a soundscape of ambient music, immersing visitors even further into the “stroboscopically induced visual hallucinations.”

After entering a room, visitors should lie-down and close their eyes before the experience takes hold.

Loss of ego

In an interview with The Guardian, Hopkins expressed “The important thing about these practices is the loss of ego and the beginning of shared experience.

“These are alternatives to our problem-solving, scientific consciousness of reality.”

Check out Hopkin’s latest work, ‘Music For Psychedelic Therapy’:

Where to “see” it

The Dreamachine is set to tour the UK this spring, hitting every capital city: Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London. Dates and venues are yet to be confirmed, so for now, keep your eyes open.

The original Dreamachine

The original Dreamachine was known as “the first art object to be seen with the eyes closed”. It was a rather peculiar object, allowing viewers to enter “mystic worlds” and “states of hallucination”, according to Gysin.

Gysin’s Dreamachine comprised of a tall cylinder with slits and rotated at 78 or 45 rpm. The cylinder housed a suspended light bulb at a constant frequency of 8-13 pulses per second.

No coincidence

These numbers were no coincidence. In fact, they corresponded to the number of electrical oscillations present within the human brain during wakeful relaxation.

Experienced by standing a few inches away—with the viewer’s eyes closed—the rotating device produced intense flickering patterns. These patterns stimulated the optical nerve and thus influenced the brain’s electrical oscillations.

The viewer would “see” shapes and traces of light on the back of their eyelids, possibly entering a hallucinatory state. And so, the Dreamachine created ephemeral, unseen imagery, unique to anyone who witnessed it.

Major contributors of the 2022 project are linked below: