1C – Dream Machine – Dream Illusion

Group Members: Alice Borie, Luke Hottinger, Horace Hou, Vivian Qiu, Rebecca Wolfinger

Roles: Alice Borie as Scribe, Luke Hottinger – Integrator, Horace Hou as Designer , Vivian Qiu as Designer, Rebecca Wolfinger as Tutor


For this project, we were given the prompt to create a dream machine. We took a twist on this prompt and decided to build a machine to create an unpleasant dream – a nightmare.

Our Dream Machine invokes both an ambient pleasant aura of a dream, as well as the unpleasant anxiety of a nightmare, both of which are depicted through change in light and sound. Once the viewer initially steps in, he/she experiences a pleasant soft glow of lights, which only lasts halfway through the dream experience. As the viewer continues to walk through the piece, the lights start to turn on and off at faster frequency. The pleasant soft glow represents the initial calm and peaceful feeling of falling into a dream while the unpleasant, more-frequent lights represent the uneasy and agitated feeling of a nightmare. The frequent nightmarish lights are interweaved with the pleasant dream lights because the experience of a nightmare can be confusingly pleasant. One only realizes that they are in a nightmare towards the end of a dream. The nightmare experience finally ends when the viewer steps out of the project, similar to the jolting awakening we feel once we exit our nightmares. This gradual change in mood serves to represent the progression of our dream experience.


Technical Notes

Our project is a rectangular walkway that hangs from the ceiling. The entrance and exits of our piece are open but our piece consists of two side walls. One side wall is black to shield the viewer from any external lights and the other side is a wall of LED strips that represent the different nightmare states. The LED strips are powered by an external power source and are programmed through an Arduino. The lull in the background is a Pure Data program that continuously runs during the exhibition of this piece.