This is an art show that you watch with your eyes closed… and it’s entirely created by your own brain.
Everyone sees something different, and very few people are prepared for the vividness of the waking hallucinations that are created by the Dreamachine.
There’s a lot to unpack here, so we’ll just start with the simple stuff: Dreamachine is a free immersive experience landing in South-East this weekend, and playing until mid-July. The idea is that you sit in a massive, windowless room, lie back, close your eyes and have ambient music and strobe lighting designed to trigger the a hallucinogenic state.
The science is actually about 60 years old, having been invented by artist Brion Gysin. He discovered that pulsating light (anywhere between 8-13 flashes a second) synchronises with the brain’s alpha waves to make you see illusions, patterns and explosions of colour in your mind. Now, a little 21st century tech has souped the experience up, and put it into a huge room down in Woolwich Works.
Credit: David Levene
Here’s how it all goes down. After having booked your free ticket (do so here), you’ll walk into the 20ft, circular chamber, with space for around 32 people. You’ll all then run through a little medical stuff, while being reassured that it’s all totally harmless, and that you can leave at any time. Everyone takes a seat, closes their eyes, and the show starts.
What proceeds is then totally unique to you. The show could be literally anything that your own brain cares to generate, but experiences seem to be universally quite benign and playful. Colours, shapes, patterns, visions, you name it. It’ll last for about 20 minutes, though it may well seem to be longer/shorter depending on your own experience.
Afterwards, people are invited to share their experience with the others in the room with the help of a few promps from digital devices. Which is probably the closest you’ll get to sharing this show with anyone else.
Because this? You cannot Instagram.
NOTE: Dreamachine runs in Woolwich until 24th July, and is free. Tickets have sold out online, but you can usually get a spot if you turn up on the day. You can find out more right here.
Woolwich Public Market | Plumstead Road, Woolwich SE18 7BZ
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