Blog Red Apple Creative Enters The Dreamachine

Red Apple Creative Enters The Dreamachine

Dreamachine is a new one of a kind immersive experience at Woolwich Works, London. With sound at the heart of the experience, the team at Red Apple Creative were keen to head down and find out what it was all about.

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Dreamachine uses light and sound to create cinematic experiences inside the viewer's mind and is based on the little known work of artist and inventor Bryan Gysin. Gysin passed away before his vision was realised, so Dreamachine reimagines this concept, created by Collective Act, in collaboration with Turner Prize-winning artists Assemble, Grammy and Mercury nominated composer Jon Hopkins, and a team of leading technologists, scientists and philosophers.

There are options for a deep listening experience (with minimal lights) and a high sensory experience with extreme strobing. Here’s the lowdown on what we experienced for both:

Kathleen Moroney, Executive Creative Director:

“It makes you feel a little vulnerable as you go in and you’re requested to put all of your belongings (including your shoes) into a locker.

When we entered the deep listening experience itself, we sat in chairs angled towards the centre of a circle and were encouraged to close our eyes. As the sounds and lights began I felt a wave of anxiety, I’m not sure if it was being with strangers in this vulnerable state, or the idea of not knowing what was to come.

After a couple of minutes I was able to disconnect and begin to really enjoy the booming 360 sound as it moved around the space.

At one moment I felt like I was watching my soul float up and out of my body. The next second I found myself seeing the profile of a face, one I had never seen before. I also saw some brie floating towards me (but that might have been because it was approaching lunchtime!). I felt a sense of movement through the universe throughout, interspersed with the odd thought about meetings that afternoon and things on the to-do list which I tried to recognise and let go, much like when you’re meditating.

Afterwards we were encouraged to talk to each other and reflect on our experiences, with a table set up with art supplies to draw what we’d experienced. It was really interesting to learn about the range of emotions people felt, as well as the personal visual experience. It’s something I’ll take into consideration when we’re building out our own immersive audio installations and presentations in future.”

Pierce Tully, Creative:

“The idea of experiencing partial disconnection from technology and the outside world has attracted me for a while. So when we were asked to place our phones in lockers before entering the Dreamachine, you can imagine my excitement.

When the reality of what it actually takes to disconnect settled in, that excitement was replaced with slight dread and anxiety. I found myself unable to get comfortable, follow the breathing exercises set out by our session’s leader, or even keep my eyes closed for long. It was as though having a visual awareness of the space helped to keep me grounded - great for my anxiety, not so great for my immersion.

When I did finally manage to take in the sound and light surrounding us, I found myself overcome with feelings of fear and confusion, compounded by a deep level of introspection which in all honesty felt cathartic.

Visuals didn’t come easily to me (keeping your eyes open leaves little to the imagination) until the very end of the experience, where I felt myself being drawn towards a swirling portal of light, contained within the entrance of my former university.

Shortly after this visual, the experience ended. In our discussion, we spoke about the importance and validity of the feelings we had - whether they were positive, or indeed negative.”

Luke McPeake, Sound Engineer and Composer:

“After a short taster of a couple of minutes I couldn’t wait to get started on the high sensory experience. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect as the reviews I'd read had been quite varied and it took a couple of minutes to completely relax and fully commit.

As the experience went on, I became more and more immersed. I did experience a few moments of distraction - being a composer I found myself zoning in on the quality of the music. In terms of the visuals I experienced behind closed eyes, these were mainly geometric shapes and kaleidoscopic patterns with a huge array of colours. The intensity of these visuals increased with the music and speed of strobing. I did experience a recurring visual of a desert scene, with sands outstretched in front of me and camels in the distance.

By the end I felt in a state of deep relaxation and it took me 5 minutes or so to come round and feel grounded back in the room.

I would definitely recommend that everybody experience it. If I get the chance I'll 100% be doing it again.”

John Hale, Senior Creative:

“The headline on the Dreamachine website invites you to ‘explore the extraordinary potential of your mind’, which immediately made me worry - what if my potential is limited and I’ll see nothing, whilst everyone else has some sort of Ayahuasca-like experience? So I felt a certain amount of nervousness heading into the unknown, heaping expectation on my brain.

As we were guided through the initial breathing exercises I found it quite difficult to stop my brain from going on about things like ‘I wonder if Pierce has his eyes closed?’ or ‘Is that guy going to cough all the way through this?’ But as we were plunged into the darkness I did manage to let go. First of all the experience evoked the sensation of being in a womb and as the huge light turned a warm orange and the music morphed into what sounded like muffled human voices, that sensation grew stronger. On reflection, this was quite a literal reaction but for me, it was a highly emotive moment.

Throughout the experience, I felt a warmth and light at some points, mostly from my left, as if love were radiating toward me and it came in waves of yellow, fringed with orange.

So did I explore the extraordinary potential of my mind? I don’t think so, I think I’d need longer than 30 minutes or so to get beyond the quite conscious experience I had. Having said that, I definitely appreciated the meditative time out from busy day to day life.

When talking to other people after the experience and seeing how it affected them in different ways, it brought to mind how context is important when you’re receiving a message and the emotive state a person is in should be always considered when they are being asked to do something or interact with a brand.”

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