A Dreamachine or Dream Machine is little more than a perforated tube of paper placed on a spinning platter with a light bulb positioned in the tube. Holes are cut from the tube according to a specific pattern. You sit in front of the dreamachine at eye-level with the bulb, with your eyes closed.
If constructed correctly the dreamachine should emit a pulse of light between 8-13 Hz, which is the precise rhythm of alpha-waves in the brain. Alpha-waves are dominant during the "alpha state," which occurs during deep meditation or the early stages of sleep. Alpha-waves are associated with a healthy mind and a stress-free life. For those of us with mentally taxing jobs and stressful lives, the dreamachine can restore order and relaxation, with the bonus of some interesting visual effects.
The first dreamachine was imagined and constructed by Brion Gysin sometime in the early 1960's with the aid of mathematician Ian Sommerville. Gysin, an occultist, artist and writer living in Paris, was a close friend of William S. Burroughs (who often receives credit for the invention). Burroughs and Gysin experimented with the dreamachine extensively. Both men were familiar with British neuroscientist W. Gray Walter's discovery that flashing lights quickly altered brain activity and not only the visual cortex, but the whole mind.
"Subjects report dazzling lights of unearthly brilliance and color. ...Elaborate geometric constructions of incredible intricacy build up from multidimensional mosaic into living fireballs like the mandalas of Eastern mysticism or resolve momentarily into apparently individual images and powerfully dramatic scenes like brightly colored dreams." - William S. Burroughs
The dreamachine (or dream machine) is a stroboscopic flicker device that produces visual stimuli. Artist Brion Gysin and scientist Ian Sommerville created the dreamachine after reading William Grey Walter's book, The Living Brain.
“Really, I think, behind everything, he was trying to teach people to see differently.” Genesis P-Orridge, on Brion Gysin
"Had a transcendental storm of colour visions today in the bus going to Marseilles. We ran through a long avenue of trees and I closed my eyes against the setting sun. An overwhelming flood of intensely bright colors exploded behind my eyelids: a multidimensional kaleidoscope whirling out through space. I was swept out of time. I was out in a world of infinite number. The vision stopped abruptly as we left the trees. Was that a vision? What happened to me?"
"I have made a simple flicker machine. You look at it with your eyes shut and the flicker plays over your eyelids. Visions start with a kaleidoscope of colors on a plane in front of the eyes and gradually become more complex and beautiful, breaking like surf on a shore until whole patterns of color are pounding to get in. After awhile the visions were permanently behind my eyelids and I was in the middle of the whole scene with limitless patterns being generated around me. There was an almost unbearable feeling of spatial movement for a while but It was well worth getting through for I found that when it stopped I was high above the earth in a universal blaze of glory. Afterwards I found that my perception of the world around me had increased very notably. All conceptions of being dragged or tired had dropped away..."
How to build a Dream Machine >>
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