Jovian Dreamachine, 2008
stained glass, light, 32" x 11" x 11"
The Jovian Dreamachine started for me as an idea born at the intersection of several fields of my interests. I have long been interested in the many diverse attempts people have made to probe the depths of their own consciousness. The dreamachine was invented by Brion Gysin in the 1960's as a means to produce a strobing light at a particular frequency that, when projected onto the closed eyelids of the viewer, would activate certain neural circuitry, leading to visual hallucinations. This interest in altered states of consciousness seems to have also been shard by artists of the Baroque tradition as far back as the 1600's. I'm thinking particularly of the concept of transverberation, where one is mentally transported as a result of religious epiphany. Artists such as Bernini (Extase de Sainte Therese) used ornate materials and physical depictions of immaterial phenomena such as light rays from the heavens to convey this altered mental state. Being interested in both of these chapters of human inquiry, I sought to produce an object that might suggest this nexus across times. The cylinder was crafted from Gysin's original plans, but the materials and techniques were chosen for the luminous qualities and baroque tradition of stained glass.
The title Jovian Dreamachine is merely a description of its appearance and function as the swirling red glass I used is evocative of the swirling clouds of the planet Jupiter. Without revealing too much in the title I'd rather this piece be perceived as a strangely otherworldly artifact from a time that never existed. Traditionally one would spin the dreamachine cylinder on a turntable at 78rpm with a light suspended inside to produce the particular frequency of flicker. This sculpture, however, is less a tool for altering one's consciousness, and more an object to reflect on the history of consciousness alteration.