Dream Machine

In the days before Coors Field and The Colorado Rockies, the neighborhoods just north of downtown Denver were quite different.  The streets were dark at night, and many of the warehouses were empty.

The neighborhood was adopted for a number of counter cultural uses – art, drugs, gangs, etc….Early on, there was a big industrial art scene in Denver, surrounded by a large branch of TOPY.  In the warehouse district, TOPY opened a few gallery spaces, and would use the empty buildings for performances and happenings.

One of the galleries was Edge, with the two E’s inverted to make a Psyhick cross, like this:

The TOPY network was grounded in the life and works of Genesis P’Orridge, Brion Gysin, Austin Osman Spare, and ReSearch.

In high school and college, I went to a number of exhibition, performances, and happenings in the warehouse district.

One weekend, my girlfriend Lisa and I went to an exhibition at Edge, a show dedicated Brion Gysin’s Dream Machine.

The Dream Machine was a psychic experiment of Gysin’s.  Essentially, a Dream Machine is built by making a large cylinder out of poster board, and cutting out a specific pattern of shapes.  The cylinder is mounted on a turntable, and then a light bulb is suspended down in the middle.

To use the Dream Machine, you switch on the light and the turntable, sit next to the cylinder with your eyes closed.  The patterns of movement, color, and light trick your eyes, and you start hallucinating.  Enough is suggested by the movement and pattern of the spinning machine that your mind starts to create new images.

There were half a dozen or more machines spread around the gallery, each with a different colored light bulb hanging in the cylinder.  Some people sat in front of the machines, unflinching, for long periods of time.  Others milled about randomly, stopping and trying each of the different machines.  Lisa and I walked around the gallery talking to friends and trying out the different machines.

Lisa kept a blue light bulb in the fixture above her bed. Before leaving for Edge, we fucked under the blue light.  I was 19 years old, and this was the first time I’d come from a blow job.  The flickering colored lights of the Dream Machines were full of meaning.

*Note:  There is a retrospective of Brion Gysin on view at the New Museum in New York City until October 3, 2010.


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