stroboscopic alphawave-inducing device designed by Ian Somnerville & Brion Gysin

The Dreamachine was invented by Beat generation members Brion Gysin and Ian Sommerville in 1959. The machine flashes light in order to stimulate the optical nerve in the eye, which in turn helps to relax the brain.

About the Dreamachine

  • "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 colours 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 colour are pounding to get in. After a while the visions were permanently behind my eyes 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 earth in an 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..."—Ian Sommerville, in a letter to Brion Gysin. February 15th, 1960
  • "Initially I observed, in sweeping, panoramic vision, a perpetually metamorphosing Persian rug. A few minutes later these patterns segued into cinematic images from childhood—it was kind of like watching home movies."—David Woodard, interviewed in LA Weekly (July 26 - August 1, 1996)
  • "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."—Brion Gysin
  • "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
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