The Dreamachine

Last weekend I found myself in Woolwich to experience the Dreamachine. But what is the Dreamachine I hear you ask? Well it is an experience like no other that takes you on an extraordinary and magical journey to explore the possibility and potential of your own mind. It was created by Collective Act, in collaboration with Turner Prize-winning artists Assemble, Grammy and Mercury nominated composer Jon Hopkins, and a team of leading technologists, scientists and philosophers. The inspiration for it was an invention by the artist Brion Gysin back in 1959 that was described as the first piece of art you see with your eyes closed.

In many ways it’s a collective experience – you enter the Dreamachine as part of a group of may 30 or 40 people. Yet it is also very much an individual experience – what you see and experience is unique to you. Upon entering the Dreamachine you are invited to take a seat – it’s a circular structure with reclining seats all the way around. Either side of your head are speakers. You are given a blanket (your body temperature is likely to drop in the relaxed state) and an eye mask (in case it gets to intense). You then just lay back, close your eyes and let whatever unfold in front of you, behind your closed eye lids. In practical terms – white light is being beamed at you – it is flashing at times (it’s not suitable for anyone who is sensitive to flashing lights). What you see (or what I saw) was something extraordinary.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on

As an EcoNIDRA teacher I often encourage my participants to notice what they can see behind their closed eyelids. Because of this I’m very conscious of what I usually see behind my closed eyelids – it’s usually black and white (unless I’m looking at the sun – in which case I gets hints of red and yellow). What I saw in the Dreamachine I can only describe as a kaleidoscope of colour.

The colours were so vivid – bright fuchsia pink, red, green, turquoise, yellow, orange. Sometimes big shapes, sometimes smaller fractal patterns emerging, sometimes like a galaxy of technicolour stars opening up in front of me. It was extraordinary. It was the colours that struck me the most. They were just so bright and so vidid.

You have two shows in the Dreamachine – the first is just 4 minutes to give you a taster (you have the option to leave if you don’t like it) and the second of around 20 minutes. I could happily have stayed in longer. Afterwards you come out into a reflection area where you can look back, either as a group or individually, at what you experienced. This was a beautiful opportunity to connect with those other souls who had been part of the same collective, experiencing it individually yet together.

There are two Dreamachines currently travelling the United Kingdom. One was in Cardiff and the other is in London until end of July. They’re then headed for Belfast and Edinburgh. If you can get to experience it – I highly recommend it. It really is an immersive experience like no other.

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