• Miles Hedley

DREAMACHINE at Woolwich Public Market

Updated: May 14


It’s almost impossible to describe the extraordinary immersive experience that is Dreamachine, now on at Woolwich Public Market, without sounding like a shoo-in candidate for Pseud’s Corner, Private Eye’s notorious repository of all things pretentious. Still, let’s give it a try…


The first thing to say is that everyone’s reaction to the astonishing flood of protean light that you absorb through your closed eyelids is unique. Some liken it to a legal hallucinogenic trip. Others find it the ultimate chillout. Still more regard it as a spiritual journey. For me, it was massively stimulating and left me uncharacteristically energised for many hours afterwards.


The overwhelming vision I had throughout the Dreamachine experience was of being a compound-eyed dragonfly looking at far-flung nebulae through a swirling kaleidoscope of fractals, polyhedrons, sunbursts and orbs of every imaginable colour from deepest violet to bloodiest crimson - including, almost incredibly, coffee-brown and charcoal-grey - all flashing, pulsing, mingling, separating, surging, exploding or vanishing with a cosmic intensity. See what I mean about Pseud’s Corner?


But let’s be clear - I’m not taking the mickey here because Dreamachine is a truly wondrous show which you can enjoy for free in a domed rotunda built inside historic Woolwich Public Market until 24 July. Created by Collective Act with a team led by Turner Prize-winning artists Assemble and acclaimed composer Jon Hopkins, it is part of a nationwide Government-funded event called UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK – a rebrand of what was once dubbed the Festival of Brexit.

The politics may prove problematic for some but there is no question that the artistry itself is beyond reproach – indeed, beyond awesome. And a key part of its appeal for me is that it is a shared experience.


Small groups sit in a circle during the light-show itself and afterwards individuals are encouraged to talk about the effect on each of them and even draw an impression of what they have seen. It’s fascinating and in fact rather moving to discover just how different that effect is. In the case of the group I was with, the reaction was uniformly euphoric.


Tickets for the event - which is presented in association with arts hub Woolwich Works - may be free but they must be booked in advance and are available at www.dreamachine.world. You will also be asked to complete a medical form because this show is definitely not suited to anyone who is sensitive to bright and/or flashing lights or loud music. For everyone else, though, it’ll be a blast.


Picture: David Levene







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