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Johnny Smoke is photographed with a Dream machine on Oct 19 2012. The machine, invented in the late 1950s by Edmonton-raised Brion Gysin uses stroboscopic lights for visual stimulation. (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)
Johnny Smoke is photographed with a Dream machine on Oct 19 2012. The machine, invented in the late 1950s by Edmonton-raised Brion Gysin uses stroboscopic lights for visual stimulation. (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)

CULT ARTIFACT

It’s high time: The Dreamachine is no longer just a dream Add to ...

Filmmaker Sheehan, though, claims to have gotten to a kind of there via the Dreamachine, noting that he had “a great big miserable machine” built for FLicKeR. “It kept breaking down,” he recalled – but there was one occasion “where it absolutely worked … triggering hallucinations in my brain [including] angels flying at me through the air.”

“It isn’t a joke,” Sheehan asserted. True, when the Dreamachine first appeared, “stroboscopic light was a lot less seen, so when it was, it had a more dramatic effect. Now, we’re so used to it through video games and stuff that it seems almost normal.” As a result, not everyone is going to “storm the citadels of enlightenment” – a claim William Burroughs once made – but, Sheehan laughed, “I often say that on a nasty, dark November day in Canada, it’s extremely pleasant to have that blast of light!”

Besides, “the genius of the new machine is that you can turn off the rotation and use it as a ‘beautiful’ lamp, although Gysin would likely be horrified.”

Where to get one

Eager to trip the light fantastic, but don’t want to wait for the Dreamachine to show up at a Canadian Tire near you? Go to http://dreamachine.ca/, where you can order the Chinese-made, Canadian-bankrolled model for home delivery.

Europeans are recommended to place orders through brianjonesjoujoukafestival.blogspot.com. Brian Jones was, of course, was a member of the Rolling Stones, a friend of Dreamachine co-inventor Bryon Gysin and a fan of the Master Musicians of Joujouka, a collective of Moroccan Sufi trance musicians. It was Gysin who introduced Jones to the Masters in the late 1960s. A portion of the European sales is earmarked to support the Moroccan artists.

If you don’t want to spend the money for a ready-to-go Dreamachine, you can go on the Web, where there are numerous sites with instructions for building your own.

Note: it’s estimated that the device, when the rotation is activated, may trigger an epileptic seizure in one of every 4,000 users.

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