Dreamachine experience explores the potential of the human mind

The Belfast programme is free and invites audiences to go on a magical journey of light and sound to create vivid illusions behind closed eyes

By Claire Cartmill
Thursday, 30th June 2022, 12:00 pm

Dreamachine, a powerful new immersive experience exploring the limitless potential of the human mind is coming to Belfast this month.

Presented in Belfast by Collective Act in partnership with NI Science Festival, 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 will provide audiences with a new way of reconnecting with themselves and each other. It is inspired by an extraordinary but little-known 1959 invention by artist and inventor Brion Gysin. His experimental homemade device used flickering light to create vivid illusions, kaleidoscopic patterns and explosions of colour in the mind of the ‘viewer’.

Tickets for the Dreammachine are free

More than 60 years on, Collective Act has brought together a leading team to reimagine the Dreamachine as a powerful new kind of collective experience that will lead audiences through an immersive environment of light and sound, where a colourful world will unfold behind closed eyes and created by and unique to each individaul.

In Belfast, participants can experience the Dreamachine at the Carlisle Memorial Church, one of the city’s most striking buildings, which has served as a gateway to North Belfast since 1875.

After ceasing to be a place of worship in the 1980s, the church fell into disrepair before a campaign in 2008 to secure its regeneration. This summer, Dreamachine will reimagine the space and contribute to the return of the building as a vibrant and shared community amenity.

NI Science Festival director Sarah Jones, explained: “Our festival exists to ignite curiosity and to engage audiences of all ages, and from all backgrounds, in the wonders of science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics – and curiosity is precisely what Dreamachine delivers. This wholly individual experience is a stark reminder of the remarkable potential each and every one of us possesses.”

Participants take part in a once-in-a-lifetime journey to explore the extraordinary potential of the own mind

While the Dreamachine experience is for over-18s, a free schools programme has been developed alongside the live experience by children’s educational charity A New Direction in partnership with the British Science Association, UNICEF UK and We The Curious. Dreamachine’s school programme is also championed by W5 in Belfast.

Collective Act director Jennifer Crook, explained: “Fusing science with arts, the themes of Dreamachine offer compelling classroom investigation - from the incredible power of the human mind to the everyday miracle of consciousness. Our programme has been developed to respond directly to under-resourced areas of the national curriculum to ensure it is relevant and useful for schools, with high-quality learning resources designed to be fun and easy to use that support both teacher and pupil wellbeing. We really want to excite and engage classrooms across the country, sparking children’s natural curiosity about the big questions in life and the unique ways we each experience the world around us.”

Schoolchildren can take part in Life’s Big Questions, an interactive five-part series hosted by Martin Dougan (CBBC Newsround) which features exciting science investigations and mind-boggling illusions, exploring our sense of self, how we see the world and how we connect with others. The programme also includes 30 free lesson plans for five-13-year-olds, across science, global citizenship and Learning for Life and Work (LLW) and a series of Teacher Professional Learning (TPL) sessions focused on wellbeing.

Dreamachine is one of 10 creative projects commissioned as part of UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK.

Martin Green, CEO of UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK, added: “We could not have predicted that we would be presented with Dreamachine, a project that seamlessly blends art and neuroscience to offer an awe-inspiring and truly unique experience for audiences as well as enhance scientific research in areas at the frontier of human understanding. We hope one of many welcome and surprising legacies that we will see across our ambitious programme in 2022 and beyond.”

In Belfast from Monday, July 25 to Sunday, September 4, Dreamachine has been a sell out experience in both London and Cardiff. Free tickets are available at www.dreamachine.world

UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK is funded and supported by the four governments of the UK and is commissioned and delivered in partnership with Belfast City Council, Creative Wales and EventScotland.