Dreamachine, a powerful new immersive experience exploring the limitless potential of the human mind, opens today at the Temple of Peace in Cardiff where it will run until June 18.
Created by Collective Act, it brings together Turner Prize-winning artists Assemble, Grammy and Mercury Prize-nominated composer Jon Hopkins and a team of leading technologists, scientists and philosophers. Dreamachine is commissioned and presented as part of UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK.
This one-of-a-kind immersive experience will take over the beautiful Temple of Peace building in the heart of Cardiff, which was built in the wake of the First World War and designed to ‘change the world’ by furthering international peace efforts.
Dreamachine will take its audience on a kaleidoscopic, visual journey through flickering light and sound, all experienced through closed eyes. Audiences will take their seats in a space designed by Assemble which allows them to enjoy a shared multisensory experience that is both highly personal and collective.
Grammy and Mercury-nominated composer Jon Hopkins, left, has composed a new score for the work in 360-degree spatial sound, creating a unique and enveloping sonic world. A team of neuroscientists and philosophers from the University of Sussex and the University of Glasgow have collaborated with creative technology studio Holition to develop unique creative tools for audience reflection, all designed to encourage connection and conversation.
Dreamachine is inspired by an extraordinary but little-known 1959 invention by artist and inventor Brion Gysin, left. His experimental homemade device used flickering light to create vivid illusions, kaleidoscopic patterns and explosions of colour in the mind of the ‘viewer’.
Designed to be the ‘first artwork to be experienced with your eyes closed’, it was intended by Gysin to replace the TV in every home in America – instead of passive consumers of mass-produced media, viewers of Dreamachine viewers would create their own cinematic experience.
More than 60 years on, Collective Act has brought together a leading team to radically reimagine the Dreamachine as a powerful new kind of collective experience, bringing this to audiences across the UK for free.
Every experience of the Dreamachine will be completely individual. Research into these differing audience responses will shed unique light on how the human brain gives rise to our subjective ‘inner universe’, exploring the ways we each encounter the world, how this shapes our lives and who we are. Even with the tools of modern neuroscience, the question of exactly why such vivid experiences still occur is still unanswered.
While the Dreamachine immersive experience is for over-18s, a schools programme has been developed alongside the live shows by A New Direction in partnership with the British Science Association, UNICEF UK and We The Curious
Fusing science with arts, the themes of Dreamachine offer compelling classroom investigation: the power of the human mind, our amazing brains and the big questions of perception and consciousness – our sense of self, how we see the world and how we connect with others.
The programme includes 30 lesson plans for 5-13-year-olds, across science, global citizenship and PSE (personal and social education), all linked to the new Curriculum for Wales framework; a series of Teacher CPD (continuous professional development) sessions focused on wellbeing; and an invitation to schools to take part in Life’s Big Questions – an interactive survey of the senses that connects children’s voices across the four nations.
The opening of the immersive experience has created a number of jobs and skills development opportunities for people in Cardiff who have been recruited by Cardiff Council to play integral roles in the artwork as Guardians of the audience experience, receiving a bespoke training programme as part of the role..
The Council is also determined to make Dreamachine as accessible to as many people in Cardiff as possible. “We know that Dreamachine will be an amazing event for Cardiff,” said a Council spokesperson. “It is being staged only in the four capital cities of the UK so we are thrilled that it will be here for more than a month, and in such an iconic venue.
“It’s important that as many people in Cardiff as possible are given the chance to attend and so we invited a number of community group leaders to special preview screenings and have allocated a number of performances especially for community organisations, including disabled groups.”