Experiencing the Dreammachine: Part3

Opening the inner eye with Brion Gysin's stroboscopic Dreammachine.

Experiencing the Dreammachine: Part3
Reimagining the Dreammachine

This final post in the series chronicles my viewing experiments with the Dreammachine. Although I'm not sure "viewing" is entirely correct given this device was purposely designed to be experienced with eyes closed.

To recap, the Dreammachine was conceived by cut-up artist, Brion Gysin, and technician friend Ian Sommerville in 1959. It's made from a cylinder with a pattern of shapes cut out of its sides. The cylinder is placed on a turntable and then rotated at a predetermined speed based on scale. A light bulb is placed in the center of the cylinder, which creates a strobe effect due to the holes in the sides. The flickering light that results is at a rate that is calculated to match the frequency of the brain which then purportedly leads to strange sensory effects.

My first post on this topic included some colorful quotes from people who tried the device. Tales of opening a "magical universe" and witnessing a "kaleidoscope of colors". In the 1997 documentary FlicKer, one viewer went as far as to say it was as if "a flood of angels flew out of the night or the starry sky". Other descriptions included "indescribable", "complete eureka moment" or even "touching God in a way".

"A Flood of Angels" - Image by the Author

How could a device as simple as a bulb suspended in a spinning perforated lamp shade possibly lead to a transcendental experience?

I was curious to find out. Also, I wanted to see what would happen by introducing some added elements: I upgraded the original design to use a Philips hue bulb so I could change the light color. Additionally I wanted to try a few experiments while listening to ambient mediative music or binaural beat.

Interested in knowing what happened? Did I open a magical universe with my eyes closed? Sign up as a free member to find out!

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