Dreamachine immersive art experience opens

Published: 10 May 2022

Dreamachine, a powerful new immersive experience exploring the limitless potential of the human mind, created by a team including UofG's Professor Fiona Macpherson.

Dreamachine installation showing a woman silhouetted by coloured light. Photo credit Urszula Soltys

Dreamachine, a powerful new immersive experience exploring the limitless potential of the human mind, today premieres in London.

Dreamachine will open at Woolwich Public Market in London on Tuesday 10 May to 24 July 2022. It will be followed by presentations in Cardiff (12 May - 18 June), Belfast (25 July - 4 September) and Edinburgh (13 August - 25 September). The live event will be free, for ages 18+

Created by Collective Act, it brings together Turner Prize-winning artists Assemble, Grammy and Mercury nominated composer Jon Hopkins, and a team of leading technologists, scientists and philosophers including the School of Humanities | Sgoil nan Daonnachdan's Professor Fiona Macpherson.

Dreamachine is commissioned and presented as part of UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK.

Dreamachine takes its audiences on a kaleidoscopic, visual journey through flickering light and sound, all experienced through closed eyes. Audiences take their seats in a space designed by Turner Prize-winning artists Assemble, creating a shared multisensory experience that is both highly personal, and collective.

Grammy and Mercury nominated composer Jon Hopkins has composed a new score for the work in 360-degree spatial sound, creating a unique and enveloping sonic world.

A team of neuroscientists and philosophers from the University of Sussex and the University of Glasgow have collaborated with creative technology studio Holition to develop unique creative tools for audience reflection, all designed to encourage connection and conversation.

The experience is inspired by an extraordinary but little-known 1959 invention by artist– 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.

Designed to be the ‘first artwork to be experienced with your eyes closed’, Gysin had a vision for his invention to replace the TV in every home in America. Instead of passive consumers of massproduced media, viewers of the Dreamachine would create their own cinematic experiences.

Over 60 years after its original invention, Collective Act has brought together a leading creative team, to radically reimagine the Dreamachine as a powerful new kind of collective experience, bringing this to audiences across the UK for free.

Dreamachine group - a group of people lying down taking part in the Dreamachine installation. Photo credit David Levene

Every experience of the Dreamachine will be completely individual. Research into these differing audience responses will shed unique light on how the human brain gives rise to our subjective ‘inner universe’, exploring the ways we each encounter the world, how this shapes our lives, and who we are. Even with the tools of modern neuroscience, the question of exactly why such vivid experiences occur is still unanswered. Dreamachine offers an insight into the everyday miracle of consciousness.

The programme is delivered in partnership with Cardiff Council, Northern Ireland Science Festival, Edinburgh Science, and Edinburgh International Festival, and in association with Woolwich Works and W5 Belfast.

Alongside the live experience, a UK-wide schools programme developed by A New Direction in partnership with the British Science Association and UNICEF UK will connect thousands of schools and pupils with the questions, ideas and themes explored through Dreamachine, inviting young people in every nation to join together to explore the wonder of how we see, and create, the world around us.


Dreamachine Ticket Information

Tickets are free but must be booked in advance on the Dreamachine website.

Tickets are now available for London and Cardiff, with tickets for Belfast and Edinburgh available from June.


Venue: Woolwich Public Market Plumstead Road London SE18 7BZ

Dates: 10 May – 24 July 2022


Venue: Temple of Peace King Edward VII Avenue Cardiff CF10 3AP

Dates: 12 May - 18 June 2022


Venue: Carlisle Memorial Church 31 Carlisle Circus Belfast BT14 6AT

Dated: 25 July – 4 September 2022

Tickets: Available to book from June on Dreamachine Tickets


Venue: Murrayfield Ice Rink Riversdale Crescent Edinburgh EH12 5XN

Dates: 13 August – 25 September 2022

Tickets: Available to book from June on Dreamachine Tickets

The Collective Act Creative Team

The project is a collaboration between: A New Direction (Award-winning not for profit Education agency) Assemble (interdisciplinary collective, Turner Prize winners 2015) Jennifer Crook (Director of Collective Act) Holition (Award-winning Creative Technology Studio) Jon Hopkins (Grammy and Mercury nominated composer) Dev Joshi (Technical Director, technologist behind Rain Room, Random International) Professor of Philosophy Fiona Macpherson (Director of The Centre for the Study of Perceptual Experience, University of Glasgow) Professor of Computational Neuroscience Anil Seth and Dr David Schwartzman (from the Centre for Consciousness Science, leading international researchers on consciousness, University of Sussex) Christopher Shutt (Sound Designer, Winner of a Tony Award for War Horse)

UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK

Dreamachine is one of 10 major creative projects commissioned as part of UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK. The UK’s most ambitious showcase of creative collaboration - across science, technology, engineering, arts and maths - includes free large-scale events, installations and globally accessible digital experiences, and an extensive learning programme reaching millions of schoolchildren. 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. 

First published: 10 May 2022