Thursday, January 20, 2005

Brion Gysin's Dream Machine in NY Times

Dreamachine enthusiasts - whose ranks have swelled recently thanks to chat forums and a book published last year - claim that it promotes a trancelike serenity, intensifies creativity and insight and even uncovers suppressed memories. Ms. Chapman's Dreamachine is one of more than a thousand that have been manufactured since the early 90's by a California composer and conductor named David Woodard. One is on display this month at the Clair Obscur Gallery in Los Angeles along with an exhibit of photographs of Burroughs taken by John Aes-Nihil, an underground filmmaker, and the premiere at the gallery of his film, "William Burroughs in the Dreamachine." Burroughs, along with other figures from the Beat Generation like Allen Ginsberg and Timothy Leary, was fascinated, even at times obsessed by the Dreamachine, which was invented in 1959 by their fellow Beats Brion Gysin, an artist, and Ian Sommerville, a math student at Cambridge. Mr. Leary called it "the most sophisticated neurophenomenological device ever designed"; Mr. Burroughs experimented with it for nearly four decades. (The film shows him using his Dreamachines at his home in Lawrence, Kan., shortly before his death in 1997).

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