Frequently Asked
Questions

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. Learn more.

How do I visit Dreamachine?

Dreamachine will be reopening in the UK and touring internationally soon. To hear the news first, sign up to our mailing list below.

 

How can I support Dreamachine?

If you support our vision and would like to help us shape the next phase of our journey, please use this form to get in touch, or leave us feedback.

We’d love to hear from you.

Where is Dreamachine going next?

From 2024, we will begin to tour the experience internationally, having attracted interest from 33 cities, in 20 countries, across 6 continents – and counting. If you would like Dreamachine to visit your city, or would like to help us shape the next phase of our journey, please get in touch here.

Who can I contact for more information?

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

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.

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.

Who can take part?

Any adult aged 18 and over can take part in the Dreamachine experience.

The High Sensory Dreamachine experience uses fast flashing bright lights, known as strobe lighting, and loud music, and is not suitable for those who are pregnant or some people with epilepsy or other potential sensitivities to fast flashing lights and loud sounds. Before booking tickets, please complete our pre-booking form.

If you have any of these sensitivities we suggest you consider booking a Deep Listening experience, which is an immersive 360 degree surround sound audio experience with a gentle lightscape that does not contain fast flashing lights. If you are sensitive to loud music, ear defenders can be provided for both experiences.

The experience has been designed to be accessible to as many people as possible, including wheelchair users, those who use mobility aids, blind and partially sighted people, and d/Deaf and hard of hearing people, with staff on site available to guide your experience.

If you would benefit from a relaxed environment, alternative relaxed sessions are available. Please see our Access page for details of how to book.

How long does the experience last?

Everyone’s experience is unique at Dreamachine but people typically spend between 90-120 minutes, including time for reflection.

What is the Perception Census?

The Perception Census is a major scientific study exploring the unique ways we each experience the world around us. It is the first major citizen science project investigating perceptual diversity, and it is led by world-leading academics Professor of Neuroscience Anil Seth from the University of Sussex and Professor of Philosophy Fiona Macpherson from the University of Glasgow.

This ground-breaking study is part of the acclaimed Dreamachine programme. The study is made up of games, illusions and brain teasers that explore how you perceive sound and time, how your senses work together, how your imagination works, and much more.

By completing the study, you will learn about your own powers of perception and help our team of scientists and philosophers uncover why, and how, we all experience the world in our own unique ways.

Who is running the Perception Census?

The study is led by world-leading academics Professor of Neuroscience Anil Seth from the University of Sussex and Professor of Philosophy Fiona Macpherson from the University of Glasgow. It is overseen by Professor Anil Seth’s team at the Centre for Consciousness Science, University of Sussex (for the full team, click here).

It is produced and managed by Collective Act as part of the acclaimed Dreamachine programme. Dreamachine includes an immersive live experience that toured the UK this summer and will soon be presented internationally, a UK-wide schools programme reaching millions of young people aged 7-13, and the Perception Census.

The Perception Census has received ethical approval from the University of Sussex (project reference number is ER/ANILS/5). For more information on this approval, please contact: perceptioncensus@sussex.ac.uk.

Who is The Perception Census for, and what are you hoping to find out?

The Perception Census is a new citizen-science study exploring the unique ways we each experience the world around us. Anyone over the age of 18 can take part, anywhere in the world. Its goal is to uncover the fascinating but invisible ways that our minds are each unique – addressing questions that have baffled, and divided, philosophers and scientists for centuries. It is a unique exercise in citizen-science and aims to be the largest study into perceptual diversity ever undertaken.

Developed by a team that includes scientists, philosophers and artists, The Perception Census consists of engaging, fun, easy and quick-to-complete online experiments and interactive illusions. As well as contributing valuable data, participants can learn about their own powers of perception and how they relate to others. Importantly, The Perception Census goes beyond visual perception, exploring sound and music, emotions and how we experience the passing of time – among many other things.

Bringing to light our inner diversity could be as transformational for society as recognition of our externally visible diversity has been. Unlike the concept of neurodivergence, which tends to be reserved for specific conditions, perceptual diversity applies to all of us. There is no single way of perceiving the world against which others can be compared, and found wanting. With your help, the results could transform our understanding of how and why we each experience the world in our own unique way.

You can read more about the research ambitions of the programme from Professor Anil Seth’s recent article in the Guardian.

How is The Perception Census linked to the Dreamachine experience?

The Perception Census is produced and managed by Collective Act as part of the acclaimed Dreamachine programme. Dreamachine also includes an immersive live experience based on stroboscopic light that toured the UK this summer and will soon be presented internationally, and a UK-wide schools programme reaching millions of young people aged 7-13 years.

As a programme, Dreamachine aims to explore the potential of the human mind and the unique ways we each experience the world. The Dreamachine immersive experience unfolds behind your closed eyes, created by the power of your own brain and completely personal to you. After the experience, you are invited to reflect, share and visualise what you saw, how you felt and what it meant to you. The incredible stories from our audiences this year can be found in our online library of reflections.

As well as being beautiful acts of creativity, these reflections are also valuable research material. They help map, and make visible, the invisible – the diversity of patterns, colours, shapes and emotions that people experience from the same sequence of just white light. Browsing through the library, you will see many similarities, as well as many differences – revealing what connects us all, as well as what makes us unique.

This feedback, together with the findings and insights from The Perception Census, will help our research team paint a fascinating portrait of human consciousness –  exploring why certain people have certain experiences in the Dreamachine, and how this may relate to other aspects of their perception. No such study has been undertaken on this scale, and findings from the programme will provide a unique body of scientific and philosophical research that will be valuable to the fields of neuroscience, philosophy, anthropology and psychology for years to come.

What aspects of perceptual diversity and neurodiversity is the Perception Census exploring?

A unique feature of The Perception Census is that it explores many different aspects of how we experience the world. There are 10 different sections, each focusing on a different aspect of perception. Everyone is invited to complete the Fundamentals of Perception section, which provides a broad overview of many forms of perception including vision, sound, and time. The remaining sections dig deeper into these different aspects, covering topics such as music, emotion, body and beliefs, and much more. A good example of the kind of perceptual differences we are interested in is synaesthesia. People with synaesthesia experience what’s commonly described as a ‘mixing of the senses’: tastes may have shapes, or written text may evoke experiences of vivid colours. We’ll be looking at the prevalence of different types of synaesthesia, and the relationships between synaesthesia and other aspects of perception.

Altogether, the results from the Census will allow us to understand how people vary in many different ways of experiencing the world. We will also use the data to identify common factors that may underlie these variations: for example, it might be that the degree to which peoples’ expectations shape their perception could explain many aspects of how they experience the world. The Perception Census will provide a unique resource for asking – and answering – important philosophical and scientific questions like this – which explore some of the most fundamental aspects of our lived human experience.

By inviting as many people as possible to take part, The Perception Census aims to explore the differences in perception that likely exist among all of us. This exploration of ‘perceptual diversity’ provides a different emphasis from the concept of ‘neurodiversity’, which has tended to be reserved for specific ‘neurodivergent’ conditions, such as autism, or ADHD. Results from the Perception Census will allow us to better understand how neurodivergent conditions relate to the variations in perception that apply to all of us.

When will you share the results of the Perception Census?

Early results from the Perception Census will be released by the end of 2022. The Perception Census will be open into 2023, and as a major piece of research, the findings will be assessed over a 3-year period between 2023 and 2025. With support from Leverhulme Trust, the University of Sussex and the University of Glasgow, two dedicated PhD students will analyse the data sets generated by the Dreamachine Programme, conducting new studies to assess and corroborate their findings – leading into a major body of work on the nature of perception. We are continuing to seek funding and investment in the research outcomes from all Dreamachine research strands to support this 3-year programme to analyse and publish our findings. The findings from the study will provide a unique body of scientific and philosophical research that will be valuable for years to come.

How can I take part in the ongoing research on the Perception Census?

If you are an academic or researcher interested in collaborating with our team on the research findings and their potential applications – please contact:  perceptioncensus@sussex.ac.uk

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