dream machine
August 4, 2004 5:46 PM   Subscribe

dream machine The dream machine is a creation of Brion Gysin, a Canadian-English expatriate colleague of William S. Burroughs and Paul Bowles. Timothy Leary called this device "the most sophisticated neuro-phenomenological device ever designed." A dream machine is being exhibited this week in San Francisco. If you can't make it there, you can perhaps build your own.
posted by F4B2 (20 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yes, I know Metafilter had a post on this on Feb 3rd 2003.

But I became interested in the machine on the weekend, bought the materials to make one with a phonograph record player, and now find BoingBoing has a link on one today. Coincidence?

By the way, does anyone out there have experiences, good, bad or inconsequential, with a dream machine or has made one?
posted by F4B2 at 5:49 PM on August 4, 2004

With one exception you used different links and a different emphasis. I wouldn't say this is a double. Good post!
posted by homunculus at 6:05 PM on August 4, 2004

Initially, most users observe something akin to a perpetually metamorphosing Persian rug.

Hella. I get that pretty much any time I close my eyes!
posted by five fresh fish at 6:14 PM on August 4, 2004

See also the Orgone Accumulator.
posted by swift at 8:00 PM on August 4, 2004

Could someone kindly explain to me what the appeal is? The thing is essentially a blinkenlights, possibly the least interesting sort of machine, ever. It ranks just behind the psychoactive properties of a pet rock. Why does its popularity, as a meme or as an object, persist?
posted by majick at 8:23 PM on August 4, 2004

Anybody know if there's an online version? Seems like it'd be easy to get the right number of hertz in flash or something. If it works, might be a fun distraction.
posted by condour75 at 8:43 PM on August 4, 2004

I tried a similar device once, with pulsing sound to go with the flashing lights. Amusing, but not as powerful as meditation.
posted by kozad at 9:23 PM on August 4, 2004

five fresh fish: Then you're just pretty messed up ;) Weren't you the same guy going on about mental orgasms too? Boy, some people's minds are much more responsive (related)
posted by abcde at 9:40 PM on August 4, 2004

For what it's worth: here's a homebrew flash version. I have no idea if the timing's right, and it would differ based on computer anyway. If it chunks, right click and set it to low quality.
posted by condour75 at 9:48 PM on August 4, 2004

I'm an idiot. Here.
posted by condour75 at 9:52 PM on August 4, 2004

Third time's a charm. Here.
posted by condour75 at 9:53 PM on August 4, 2004

Here's another on-line dream machine . I got some trippy green geometric lights inside my eyelids, but maybe didn't use it long enough (5 mins) for the full effect.

Here's some more links on Gysin's paintings, some of which done under the influence of the dream machine .
posted by F4B2 at 9:56 PM on August 4, 2004

Sweet jesus, I've got a stalker!
posted by five fresh fish at 10:45 PM on August 4, 2004

Indicators for fantasy proneness include: susceptibility for hypnosis, possessing imaginary friends as a child, having psychic experiences, having out-of-body or floating experiences, vivid waking dreams, visions, or hallucinations, encountering apparitions, and receipt of special messages. Metafilter obviously plays too large a role in my life.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:51 PM on August 4, 2004

Im too lazy to find the link, but its been said that this "dream machine" and similar devices can lead to depression...

the article was speculating that Kurt Cobain was a "victim" of this depression -- he met with and borrowed a dream machine from burroughs supposedly shortly before his death.

F4B2 is my new favorite mefite. Wheres BeatFilter.com? Lets team up with digaman and make it happen :)
posted by Satapher at 11:11 PM on August 4, 2004

also, check out the Burroughs DVD called "The Final Academy Documents" Has lots of video of the Dream Machine in action.
posted by Satapher at 11:15 PM on August 4, 2004

fff: Having imaginary friends as an adult is even worse, actually ;)

And don't feel creeped out that I remember everything you say, other people have been creeped out by it too ;) (oddly, I only remember unimportant stuff; if you told me I was on fire I wouldn't remember it)
posted by abcde at 11:19 PM on August 4, 2004

I get that pretty much any time I close my eyes!

I remember an article about Timothy Leary in Life Magazine, back in the 60s, when Leary, I think, was still a professor and LSD was still legal, where Leary was demonstrating how you could see trippy designs by closing your eyes and rubbing on your eyelids. Of course, kids are always discovering this on their own and find it mildly amusing when there's absolutely nothing else to do, but Leary was making a big point of recommending it and saying he didn't see why people didn't do it all the time.
posted by Alizaria at 4:51 AM on August 5, 2004

I made one about twenty years ago, it kind of worked in terms of optical patterns, but no real relaxation effects; you had to hold your head in a fairly precise position with regard to the rotating cylinder to get any effect, and any wandering would cause the effects to lapse. I can get similar optical effects holding flashing lights (e.g. flashing LED bikelight) to my eyelids.
posted by carter at 6:01 AM on August 5, 2004

Well, I've only got imaginary friends if you, abcde, are imaginary.

If you are, I'm going to be extremely concerned with my mental health, as it appears I'm being stalked and belittled by my own self.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:59 AM on August 5, 2004

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