1967. Mod meets freak. Here we see the late 20th century at that moment in time when Barney Bubbles first ingested LSD. This touching family scene shows the gang preparing in front of the mirror in my room at Leigh Court, West Kensington, London W14, for the Alexandra Palace all-weekend bash. Barney’s hair is being combed back down, mod style, by Lorry One-day-to-be-Sartorio, to give it that fluff-it-up bouffant, Rod Stewart look. Barney’s dopamine receptor induced glassy eyes stare from a mask painted on his face, on which another mask is to be affixed. He looks to be drying his nail polish. John Muggeridge to the left. I photographed the occasion thinking it to be historic, I was right.
Above the cosy scene is a lamp shade I bought at Conran’s store, Habitat. (Which I seem to remember was in Heal’s, could that be possible?) Barney, at this time, was working at Conran’s design studio and was friendly with a manager there, whom he advised on some purchases for the store. One of his recommendations was this lampshade, because it reminded him of the Perkinje Pattern based Dreammachine we had once considered making. This spinning optical illusion device, the Dreamachine, was invented by Brion Gysin, a writer and performance artist (and associate of William Burroughs), with scientist Ian Sommerville. The Dreammachine was a stroboscopic flicker device designed to be viewed with the eyes closed and produce visual stimuli.
I had bought the lampshade forgetting about the Dreammachine association, although it seemed familiar, so when Barney asked me, “Y’ going to use the Lampshade then?” I didn’t know what he was talking about. I figured it out and explained that it didn’t spin and the geometry was wrong so it wouldn’t work.
Reproduced here below for new readers who have not investigated the back story, is the post I previously posted explaining the workings of the Dreammachine and the Perkinje Pattern effects.
Perkinje Patterns: Great Flickering Fingers – it’s the Dreammachine
Here’s something for the Hawkwind crowd – how Barney amused himself. Gysin was the guy who taught Burroughs to do cut-ups. Here Gysin describes the lowdown heads-up on one of Barney the Entertainer’s (p)arty tricks. You probably all know that Barney got his cut-up text ideas for that Hawkwind booklet off Bill Burroughs, who in turn worked with and was influenced by poet Brion Gysin. But did you know that one of Barney entertainments used Gysin’s discovery of the Dreamachine? Read all about it here.
Strange News: Key to Hallucinations Found
By Jen Palmares Meadows, Scientific Blogging
Almost fifty years ago, the beat poet Brion Gysin (1916 – 1986), described a visual hallucination that he experienced while riding a bus:
…Had a transcendental storm of colour visions today in the bus going to Marseille. We ran through a long avenue of trees and I closed my eyes against the setting sun. An overwhelming flood of intensely bright patterns in supernatural colours exploded behind my eyelids: a multidimensional kaleidoscope whirling out through space. I was swept out of time. I was in a world of infinite number. The vision stopped abruptly as we left the trees. Was that a vision? What happened to me? (Brion Gysin, 21 December 1958)
Gysin, a writer and performance artist, though known for his discovery of the cut-up technique, which inspired writers like William S. Burroughs, was also the co-inventor (along with scientist Ian Sommerville) of the Dreamachine, a stroboscopic flicker device designed to be viewed with the eyes closed and produces visual stimuli.
At the end of his documentation, Gysin asks, “Was that a vision? What happened to me?”
According to Dominic ffytche of the Institute of Psychiatry in London, and author of ‘The Hodology of Hallucinations,’ a study recently published in an issue of Cortex, “Fifty years on we are able to answer Gysin’s question.” Gysin’s hallucinations were quite similar to what Jan Purkinje (1787-1869), the father of contemporary neuroscience, experienced as a child.
“I stand in the bright sunlight with closed eyes and face the sun. Then I move my outstretched, somewhat separated, fingers up and down in front of the eyes, so that they are alternately illuminated and shaded. In addition to the uniform yellow-red that one expects with closed eyes, there appear beautiful regular figures that are initially difficult to define but slowly become clearer. When we continue to move the fingers, the figure becomes more complex and fills the whole visual field. (Purkinje, 1819)
When Purkinje moved his fingers, he simulated an effect similar to that of Gysin’s Dreamachine.
And check this, out.
- Rebeca and Mike say: The Dreamachine eh? Looking at stuff with your eyes closed eh?Okay then, there was a poster Barney did for the fictitious band ‘The Image’ (members of the band were Roger, Pete, Colin, Roy and Wöll). The poster featured a silhouette of a guitar-weilding guy, and was printed in two strong colours (there are different colour variations of this poster). You have to stare for a while at a star-shaped badge the guitar guy is wearing and then shut your eyes. Low and behold, due to the magic of after-imagery, ‘The Image’ of a pop star you’ve just been looking at appears, as if on the back of your eyelids!
Before we’d come across this poster, we’d used a slightly similar after-image technique for a fashion shoot we did for Tank magazine in London. You stared at green tights (for example) and when you’d charged your eyeballs up enough you looked over to the photograph of the girl, and all of a sudden she was wearing pink tights!
- The Wöll, in RandM’s comment above is my pseudonym of the time. This ‘Image’ poster is another in the co-operative pieces Fulcher and I worked on together and which are only half credited in gorman’s ‘Reasons.’ In the absence of any obliging personnel to fulfill our grand ideas of impresariodom, we were inventing the band, The Image, in reverse, graphics first then the band.