Brion Gysin's Dreamachine
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Your Dreamachine will ship to you on black cardboard & in a safe tube.
About the Dreamachine
The Dreamachine was conceived by artist, painter and writer Brion Gysin, along with his friend Ian Sommerville, in the early sixties. It is the first object in history designed to be viewed with closed eyes.
The Dreamachine simply consists of a cylinder with holes cut into the sides which is placed on a turntable. A lightbulb is suspended in the center of the spinning cylinder. The light passes through the holes as it rotates at a constant frequency, situated between 8 and 13 pulses per second. This frequency range corresponds to the 'alpha waves', electrical oscillations naturally present in human brain when the eyes are closed and no stimuli are processed, e.g., when there's a relaxed and effortless alertness, and while meditating.
The Dreamachine is viewed with the eyes closed: the flickering light stimulates the optic nerve and alters the brain's electrical oscillations, producing vivid visions of very bright moving and morphing colors in geometrical patterns which appear "projected" behind the eyelids, covering the field of vision completely. A prolonged session in front of a Dreamachine (time may vary among subjects) can push the experience further, altering the perception of time and space and provoking a dream-like state.
The user should sit comfortably in front of the Dreamachine, with the eyes approximately at center (half height) of the cylinder and quite close (5 cm), but is good to try and find what is best. Music can be played, even if it has been noted that music with words tends to "distract" and interfere.
To interrupt the experience, simply open the eyes.
Please be aware that the Dreamachine can be dangerous for persons suffering from epilepsy or other nervous disorders.
The visions hollowed out of the Dreamachine usually start off with a rapid, and quickening, succession of abstract patterns. Often this transit of speeding images is followed by a clear perception of human faces. Humanoid figures and the apparent enactment of highly colored events, or, as Gysin described them, 'pseudo events', carried out in time and space.
Excerpt from Flicker, by Ian Sommerville.
Published in Olympia no.2 (Paris, 1962).
...Our ancestors saw the creatures of the constellations in the apparently unorganised distribution of the stars. It has been shown experimentally through the viewing of random white dots on a screen that man tends to find patterns and picture where objectively there is none: his mental process shapes what it sees. Externals resonators, such as flicker, tune in with our internal rhythms and lead to their extension.
The Dream Machine began as a simple means to investigate phenomena whose description excited our imaginations - our faculty of image-making which flicker was said to stimulate. Maximum effect is achieved with a light of at least 100 watts when flicker plays over closed lids bright as close as possible to the cylinder revolving at 78 rpm. This may not produce everybody's exact alpha rhytm but the effects can be astonishing. They continue to develop over a long period of time. More elaborate machines can be obtained.
Brion Gysin added an interior cylinder cover with the type of painting which he had developed from his first "natural flicker" experience, and with eyes open the pattern became externalised, seemed to catch fire, and lick up from inside the whirling cylinder. In the bigger machines of his design whole moving pictures are produced and seem to be in flux in three dimensions on a brilliant screen directly in front of the eyes. Elaborate geometric construction of incredible intricacy build up from bright mosaic into living fireballs like the mandalas of eastern mysticism surprised in their act of growth....
excerpts from Dreamachine Plans - Created by Brion Gysin
© temple press ltd. 5th printing, 1994 - ISBN 1 871744 50 4
used by permission from Paul Cecil
Had a transcendental storm of colour visions today in the bus going to Marseilles.
We ran though a long avenue of trees and I close my eyes against the setting sun.
An overwhelming flood of intensely bright colours exploded behind my eyelids: a multi-dimensional 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?
Extract from the diary of Brion Gysin 21/12/1958
Flicker may prove to be a valid instrument of practical psychology: some people see and others do not. The DREAMACHINE with its patterns visible to the open eyes, induces people to see. The fluctuating elements of flickered design support the development of autonomous 'movies', intensely pleasurable and, possibly, instructive to the viewer. What is art? What is colour? What is vision? These old questions demand new answers when, in the light of the Dreamachine, one sees all of ancient and modern abstract art with eyes closed. ~ Brion Gysin
Dreamachines bring to a conclusion the period of kinetic invention in "modern" painting and sculpture. The Dreamachine opens up a whole new era and a new area of vision... Interior vision.
Look into a Dreamachine, and look deep. Here you will actually SEE the fundamental order present in the physiology of the human brain. Your brain. Order imposed on chaos. Life imposed on matter. History and mystery.
You are the artist when you approach a Dreamachine with your eyes closed. What the Dreamachine incites you to see is yours... your own. The brilliant interior visions you so suddenly see whirling around inside your head are produced by your own brain activity. These may not be your first glimpse of these dazzling lights and celestial coloured images. Dreamachines provide them only just as long as you choose to look into them. What you are seeing is perhaps a broader vision than you may have had before of your own incalculable treasure, the "Jungian" sort of symbols which we share with all normally constituted humanity. From this storehouse, artists and artisans have drawn the elements of art down the ages. In the rapid flux of images, you will immediately recognise crosses, stars, haloes... woven patterns like pre-Columbian textiles and Islamic rugs... repetitive patterns on ceramic tile... in embroideries of all times... rapidly fluctuating serial images of abstract art... what look like endless expanses of fresh paint laid on a palette knife. ~ Brion Gysin