Turner Prize winner co-designs artwork to be experienced with eyes closed

The free immersive experience will premiere in London on Tuesday.

Ellie Iorizzo
Monday 09 May 2022 12:45
Turner prize winner designs first artwork to be experienced with eyes closed (David Levene/PA)
Turner prize winner designs first artwork to be experienced with eyes closed (David Levene/PA)

Turner Prize winning art collective Assemble has co-designed a new immersive experience exploring the “extraordinary” potential of the human mind.

The Dreamachine uses flickering lights and sound, composed by Grammy-nominated musician Jon Hopkins, to take audiences on a visual journey experienced through closed eyes.

The experience was inspired by artist-inventor Brion Gysin, whose homemade 1959 device was designed to be the “first artwork to be experienced with your eyes closed”.

The rich kaleidoscopic world of the Dreamachine will come from within, providing a magical insight into the extraordinary potential of our own minds

Jennifer Crook

He used flickering light to create vivid illusions, kaleidoscopic patterns and explosions of colour in the mind, and hoped his invention would replace the TV in homes across America as viewers created their own cinematic experiences.

More than 60 years after his original invention, Jennifer Crook, director of Collective Act, brought together Assemble, Hopkins, Tony award-winning sound designer Christopher Shutt and a team of scientists and philosophers to reimagine the Dreamachine as a new collective experience.

Ms Crook, who is overseeing the creative vision, direction and management of the project, said the Dreamachine “offers an insight into the everyday miracle of consciousness”.

She added: “Dreamachine will engage audiences across ages and cultures in a powerful and transformative collective experience.

Dream Machine (David Levene/PA)

“The rich kaleidoscopic world of the Dreamachine will come from within, providing a magical insight into the extraordinary potential of our own minds.

“Beyond the confines of screens or devices, our programme will creatively explore the most fundamental of human connections: how we perceive and make sense of the worldaround us.

“To explore one of the greatest remaining mysteries to humankind, all you need to do is to close your eyes.”

London-based collective Assemble, which won the 31st Turner Prize for its socially engaging and politically relevant art, has designed the space where audiences will sit and share the multisensory experience.

Assemble said: “The Dreamachine experience is unique in that it is highly personal and yet experienced in a group setting.

Dream Machine installation (Brenna Duncan/PA)

“It is not very often that people will come to a public setting and have such a deeply personal moment that is shared with strangers.”

Hopkins said composing a score for the experience was like “creating a kind of sonic palace”.

He added: “I’ve always been fascinated by the relationship between music and consciousness, and its ability to unlock the infinitely rich imagery that we hold in our subconscious.

“Dreamachine is also an incredible immersive audio experience – with an of array of 86 speakers to play with, I was able to compose in a whole new way, moving sounds around within a true 3D space.”

Dreamachine is one of 10 Government-funded creative projects commissioned as part of Unboxed: Creativity in the UK.

Arts minister Lord Parkinson said: “Dreamachine is an amazing, immersive sound and light journey that will capture people’s imagination and celebrate the power of the human mind.

“It promises to be a genuinely unforgettable experience for anyone who goes – and it’s completely free.

“We are pleased to have provided Government funding for this as part of our plan to open up access to arts and culture through Unboxed: Creativity in the UK.”

The Dreamachine opens at the Grade II-listed Woolwich Public Market in London on May 10 and will also travel to Cardiff, Belfast and Edinburgh.

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