Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wake Up and Dream

Just finished watching a movie tonight called Flicker. The film is both a biography of
fellow polymath Brion Gysin, and a history of his stroboscopic flicker device, The Dreamachine.

According to our good friends at Wikipedia:

The dreamachine (or dream machine) is a stroboscopic flicker device that produces visual stimuli. Artist Brion Gysin and scientist Ian Sommerville created the dreamachine after reading William Grey Walter's book, The Living Brain.[1][2]

In its original form, a dreamachine is made from a cylinder with slits cut in the sides. The cylinder is placed on a record turntable and rotated at 78 or 45 revolutions per minute. A light bulb is suspended in the center of the cylinder and the rotation speed allows the light to come out from the holes at a constant frequency, situated between 8 and 13 pulses per second. This frequency range corresponds to alpha waves, electrical oscillations normally present in the human brain while relaxing.[2]

A dreamachine is "viewed" with the eyes closed: the pulsating light stimulates the optical nerve and alters the brain's electrical oscillations. The "viewer" experiences increasingly bright, complex patterns of color behind their closed eyelids. The patterns become shapes and symbols, swirling around, until the "viewer" feels surrounded by colors. It is claimed that viewing a dreamachine allows one to enter a hypnagogic state.[3] This experience may sometimes be quite intense, but to escape from it, one needs only to open one's eyes.[1]

A dreamachine may be dangerous for people with photosensitive epilepsy or other nervous disorders. It is thought that one out of 10,000 adults will experience a seizure while viewing the device; about twice as many children will have a similar ill effect.[4]

The Dreamachine is the subject of the award winning 2008 feature documentary film FLicKeR by Nik Sheehan.

Brion Gysin was originally inspired to investigate flicker effects after being exposed to light streaming through the trees as he attempted to doze on a bus one afternoon. Many now believe that the ecstatic experiences that could occur via the same phenomenon during a simple walk in the woods have lead to such arborial-mystical associations as "The Tree of Life", or even the "Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil".

Here is Gysin's account of his experience:

"Had a transcendental storm of colour visions today in the bus going to
Marseilles. We ran through a long avenue of trees and I closed my eyes against
the setting sun. An overwhelming flood of intensely bright colors exploded
behind my eyelids: a multidimensional 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
December 21, 1958

Build your own Dreamachine on this site
. You'll find instructions and even printable .pdf blueprints.

Still a skeptic? Experiment with flicker phenomenon using this online Dreamachine.

If you are at all prone to seizures or fainting, please DO NOT experiment with these devices. You have the privelege of dreaming the old fashioned way, and your reveries come ready-made in a warm bowl of milk.

My new CD was also born out of a warm bowl of milk, carried by a buxom nurse, into a dark bunker, beneath a bombed out church, amidst the choking fires of the Last Secret War.


Use this slick toolbox to listen to - and purchase - my new CD at your favorite online outlet. Also click the VIDEO button to watch the short film REvolution featuring yours truly on the soundtrack.


Be gentle in your sleepy hands on this world.
Be a killer in Heaven.

Joe Nolan

Check out my profile at Reverb Nation to see my updated press and bio.

Listen to my earlier releases, and enjoy free downloads here!

Support this site! Buy Joe's Music! ...



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