What is ‘Dreamachine’ and why the heck is everyone talking about it?

Apparently it can make you hallucinate with sounds and lights

India Lawrence
Written by
India Lawrence
Contributing writer

A trippy new immersive experience has come to London. Running at Woolwich Public Market, ‘Dreamachine’ uses sounds and lights to make you hallucinate, tapping into the ‘limitless potential of the human mind’ – that’s right, no illicit substances are involved. It’s also completely free. Sounds like a wild ride, right? Strap in. 

What actually is the titular machine?

It’s essentially a big box with flashing lights and loud music. Think Berghain but make it science. The audience sits down in the comfy space, closes their eyes and lets the machine do the work. 

How is it immersive?

You sound like someone who’s been hoodwinked by an underwhelming ‘immersive’ experience in the past. As well as the flickering and hallucinatory lights, the machine is soundtracked by music from electronic king Jon Hopkins. The composer worked alongside Turner-winning art collective Assemble, who designed the space. Hopkins’ all new score proposes to take you on the sensory trip of a lifetime, enveloping you in a ‘unique, sonic world’.

Outside of the Dreamachine in London
Photo by Brenna Duncan

What’s the story behind ‘Dreamachine’?

This machine is inspired by the late artist Brion Gysin’s 1959 invention, which was the first artwork that was designed to be experienced with your eyes closed. The swanky 2022 experience was dreamt up by a collective of artists, composers, scientists and philosophers. 

But it’s got something to do with, erm, Brexit?

Part of what was formerly called the Festival of Brexit – yikes, we don’t want to attend a fiesta all about Brexit either – it’s now called Unboxed and is a celebration of the UK’s considerable gifts when it comes to creativity and technology. This is London’s only stop for the festival, with other events taking place across the country. 

So, am I going to trip balls, technically speaking?

You’ll have to find that out for yourself, but the goal is to get into some sort of hallucinatory state. And for those who don’t get on with flashing lights, there’s also a non-flickering light option (called ‘deep listening’). 

Dreamachine, May 10-Jul 24. Woolwich Public Market, SE18 7BZ. Free, book here

More interactive stuff? Check out our preview of Punchdrunk’s theatrical brilliance.

More innovation? You want ‘Mulan Rouge’, a drag-dinner mashup.

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