Frequently Asked
Questions

Can I listen to Jon Hopkin’s soundtrack outside of the immersive experience?

The music is an integral part of Dreamachine, designed specifically by Jon Hopkins for the immersive experience. We have no immediate plans to release the music, but are exploring possibilities for this in the future. Please sign up to the mailing list if you’d like to be kept in the loop about future plans and opportunities to take part in the Dreamachine programme.

What is the Dreamachine experience?

The Dreamachine is a seated, multisensory immersive experience with music and light, designed to be enjoyed with your eyes closed.

It is inspired by an extraordinary 1959 invention by artist Brion Gysin, described as the ‘first artwork to be experienced with your eyes closed’. The 21st Century Dreamachine has been created by a team of leading minds in architecture, technology, music, neuroscience, and philosophy, including Turner Prize-winning collective Assemble and Grammy-nominated composer Jon Hopkins.

The experience is now closed in all locations as part of our programme for UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK. Sign up to our newsletter to be the first to find out about future Dreamachine events.

You can still take part in the Perception Census and Schools Programme for other ways you can get involved in our programme.

Who can I contact for more information?

If you have queries about the Dreamachine programme, please contact dreamachine@collectiveact.co.uk.

What measures have you taken to make the experience accessible?

Dreamachine has been developed with extensive focus group research to ensure it is as inclusive and accessible as possible, including for wheelchair users, those who use mobility aids, blind and partially sighted people, and deaf and hard of hearing people, with staff on site available to guide the experience.

During our research and development, we have conducted extensive focus group research with blind and partially sighted groups, d/Deaf and hard of hearing people, those with physical and sensory access requirements and with relevant expert advisors. This research has informed both the design of our spaces and the experience itself, and has also led to the development of the Deep Listening Dreamachine experience to ensure Dreamachine is accessible to anyone who may have sensitivities to strobe lighting or high sensory environments. The Deep Listening Dreamachine experience has been designed and developed by the same creative team, and with the same rigour and artistic integrity as the High Sensory Dreamachine experience. For more information about both experiences, please visit our Immersive Experience page.

There is no sensitive content to be aware of.

Why is the High Sensory experience not recommended for all those with epilepsy, and not just those with photosensitive epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a relatively common condition that affects the brain. Over 600,000 people in the UK have epilepsy. That’s about one in every 100 people. There are around 60 million people with epilepsy in the world. Up to 3% of people with epilepsy can have seizures that are triggered, particularly for under 18s, by flashing lights (called photosensitive epilepsy).

There are many myths and misconceptions surrounding epilepsy and photosensitive epilepsy, and the condition is still an active and ongoing area of research. Most people with epilepsy do not have seizures triggered by flashing lights, but advice from expert consultants indicates that the combination of effects used in the High Sensory Dreamachine experience could have the potential to trigger a seizure for some people with epilepsy, and importantly, that the risk of an adverse reaction is increased if you have epilepsy. To protect the wellbeing of our visitors and our staff, we were only able to admit adults who do not have epilepsy or any known sensitivity to flashing lights, loud sounds or high sensory environments.

We continue to consult with epilepsy advisors, including specialists from UCL and Stanford University Medical Center, to design the Dreamachine experience. As the project is one of the first times an experience of this nature has been realised on this scale, we take all necessary precautions to support our visitors and our staff. Dreamachine provides an opportunity for further research and discussion around epilepsy, and if you would like to contact us to discuss this, please get in touch.

We have designed two additional experiences to make the Dreamachine as accessible as possible, and to ensure those with epilepsy can take part and enjoy the experience. The Deep Listening Dreamachine experience is an immersive 360 degree surround sound audio experience, with a gentle lightscape that does not contain fast flashing lights. It has been designed and developed to ensure that Dreamachine is as accessible as possible to those who may have sensitivities to strobe lighting or high sensory environments. The Deep Listening Dreamachine experience has been designed and developed by the same creative team, and with the same rigour and artistic integrity as the High Sensory Dreamachine experience.

All Dreamachine experiences are also available as a Relaxed experience. This means a relaxed attitude to noise and movement, where you can freely enter and exit the live experience when needed. This is suitable for anyone who would benefit from a more informal setting.

Can the experience cause epilepsy?

The effects used in the Dreamachine experience cannot cause epilepsy. They can only trigger existing sensitivities, so all participants must complete a pre-booking form containing information about medical conditions or sensitivities that may be relevant to your participation, prior to attending the experience. It is possible that you may have some relevant sensitivities that you do not know about. If you are in doubt about whether you should participate, consider booking for the Deep Listening experience.

If you experience a seizure as a result of sensitivities that were pre-existing, but previously unknown to you, this may have wider implications for you. If you drive, one immediate effect of having a seizure is that you may have to stop driving for a certain period – this could be between 3 – 12 months. This is true for all types of seizures, and whether you have a diagnosis of epilepsy or not. This may have an impact on your life, or your ability to work/travel, particularly if you are considering joining the Armed Forces, or for anyone working as a commercial pilot or train driver. Some activities may be restricted for your safety while the reason for the seizure is assessed and diagnosed. For further information on the implications of having a seizure and living with epilepsy, we suggest you refer to the following sources:

NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/epilepsy/

 

How does the High Sensory experience work?

The rich inner journeys created by the High Sensory Dreamachine experience are linked to something known as ‘entrainment’ – gentle changes to brain activity created by synchronisation to flickering light, which affects activity in the visual areas of the brain. The frequency of the light provides a ‘beat’ for the rhythms of the brain, similar to the ‘alpha’ rhythm – a brain state normally associated with relaxation. This discovery was first made by the pioneering British neuroscientist Dr Grey Walter in the 1950s.

The question of exactly why flickering light gives rise to such vivid experiences is still unanswered. Our scientific team at the Centre for Consciousness Science, University of Sussex, have been investigating this mystery for over a decade and exploring what it might reveal about the nature of consciousness. For a deeper dive into the subjects behind the Dreamachine, visit our Discover page.

How do I visit Dreamachine?

Dreamachine is now closed in all locations as part of our programme for UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK. Sign up to our newsletter to be the first to find out about future Dreamachine events.

You can still take part in the Perception Census and Schools Programme for other ways to get involved in our programme.

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